Be Your Own Traumfrau

Photo by Eleonora Cecchini

The last time I wrote about Traumfrau was over two years ago, which was also the last time I wrote anything here. It’s no coincidence that writing took a bit of a back seat once Traumfrau started; events take up a lot of time and energy, especially when the 9-5 work gets in the way of what you (I’d) rather be doing. Although it’s been over two years and I’m no longer part of it, Traumfrau was such an incredibly important experience that I really wanted to bring it full circle and write something at the end as well as the beginning of my involvement.

It might be news to some people that I was so connected to Traumfrau, especially right at the start. Although I don’t live in Brighton, Roni and Giorgia asked me to help them put their idea together because I had the experience – and I was really happy to come out of retirement to brush off my records and create something fun again. I think we managed that straight away, but that didn’t stop me from feeling like a voyeur at the first party, wandering around feeling both self-conscious yet stealthily invisible. The only time I really had fun and stopped feeling so anxious on that first night was when I got to hide in the DJ booth, play music and dance. Watching people enjoy themselves to the music I play has always been a buzz, and DJing at Traumfrau nights has certainly been the highlight to many of my weekends spent in Brighton since that first sweaty night in The Tube.

But it’s more than playing tunes that’s made Traumfrau special: I’ve been able to spend more time with my friends, make new ones, hang out in Brighton (always a welcome escape from London) and – most importantly – been inspired by so many of the people I’ve met and artists I’ve seen. If I tried to list all the people that have had an impact along the way we’d be here forever, but artists like Lazlo Pearlman and Sabrina Chap are most certainly up there, and I kicked myself for missing the spectacular Rubyyy Jones when she performed earlier this year. Above all, Traumfrau has led to so many other ideas and gave me a route to developing aspects of myself that I was sorely neglecting.

I’m proud that the single biggest contribution I made to Traumfrau is the name. I offered it as one in a list of possibilities and it’s the one that stuck. I’ll be honest, I did get a few odd looks from people when I told them the name of this new night I was helping to put on, but I think it’s served its purpose well and is now something that so many people in Brighton and beyond are now familiar with that it speaks for itself. Most people that know me also know that there is an original Traumfrau and that I’ve been promising to write about that. One of these days I will, but it’s too long for now. I do sometimes feel like writing to tell her she’s inadvertently inspired this brilliant thing in Brighton, but (aside from potential creepiness of that) it’s not quite true: Roni and Giorgia are responsible for developing the local community around it, and turning it into something bigger than the sum of its parts.

Once the name was set, the concept for the identity fell into place: ‘Traumfrau’ means ‘dream woman’ in German, so I developed a concept where each poster would feature a woman who had a connection, whether intellectually, culturally or both, to the specific event. The choices were made collaboratively, and some might be considered a bit risky; not all of the choices were self-identified feminists nor were they all queer, both things that the night definitely is. However, they were all important, iconic women in their own right who merit the accolade of Traumfrau and that I knew we could defend if we needed to (early on, the choice of Betty Friedan for our second event created some interesting discussions on Facebook). There are still so many other ideas that have never been used, including (my personal favourite) the Pride poster featuring Divine, that I’d really like to spend some time making a whole new series just for fun.

Until earlier this year, I’d designed almost every poster and flyer for the nights we put on and, while I’m the first to admit that they are definitely not great pieces of graphic design, I am proud that they gave Traumfrau a distinctive personality and something for people to talk about. This is a DIY effort, after all, and I definitely embraced the DIY spirit in making them. (There’s a full gallery below, but I’ve omitted the full story behind each of them because I figured I’m the only one interested in those.)

In the end, being in London and trying to stay involved in the organisation of Traumfrau just became too difficult. At the beginning, I’d been closer to the planning and ideas, but as time went on this started to lessen and I felt disconnected. I’m happy I managed to do what I could while I could (getting JD Samson to play close to my birthday was pretty sweet and DJing using only my mobile phone was an interesting experience when we got to run the disco at Supernormal Festival last year) but eventually it started to make me feel sad that I couldn’t give as much as I wanted. It took a long time to let the idea of walking away settle before I could do it, because it had it become such a significant part of who I was and what I did. Staying up until 2am to write this right now feels very much in the spirit of Traumfrau, whether staying up until 2am to make changes to a poster to get it off to the printers in time, or getting back on the decks to play the final hours of the party.

I’m proud of how Roni, Giorgia and the extended Traumfrau family have evolved the Sugar Rush-inspired party (that’s another story you probably didn’t know) into something much more than being just another club night where you go to get drunk, and I’m excited to see where it will go next. I’ll always be glad I have such brilliant memories (and a fail-safe way of remembering who I was dating by which Traumfrau they came to) and will definitely be back to play some tunes now and then, but for now it’s gute Nachte und gute Träume.

 

 

 

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