I called this session because I sometimes perform in, and go to a lot of, drag king nights. They all happen in the basements of gay men's bars on the weeknights that the queens don't want. I think there's only one venue that is wheelchair-accessible for audience members, and to my knowledge no wheelchair-accessible stages. King nights sell out, platform amazing work and are inclusive, intersectional and wonderful things but also marginalised and often lacking basic tech support. It pisses me off. I'm done with begging men for space and done with watching amazing artists getting exhausted wading through the treacle of marginalisation.

So I thought, we need a space. Not a theatre show. A pub, a bar, a community centre. Somewhere for drag nights, live music, dancing but also for hanging out, building on/with a community that already exists but finds itself once a month in a basement that not everyone can access.

This is quite a London-centric conversation because that's where most of us were based - and where I'd be focussing efforts to find/make space, but we also spoke about Liverpool, Paris and Manchester. I hope our dream venue chimes with other folks elsewhere and would love to hear about any plans or existing venues elsewhere.

About maybe 10-15 people came along and got excited and angry about this idea with me and Mallin. We started by acknowledging that this space doesn't currently exist in London. We agreed that nights are good but we want a home. We need a home.

We listed all the venues that already supported queer AFAB work. We came up with the following:

Supportive theatres with at least some amount of access:
Theatre Deli
The Yard
Jackson's Lane

Other venues:
Colours (Hoxton)
The Appletree Pub
VFD (queer space in Dalston but no wheelchair access)
Hackney Showroom
Matchstick Piehouse
DIY Space
Bishopsgate Institute (me and Mall have already started a promising conversation with a programmer at BI about a drag night, but it's not the end-goal home)

We identified Matchstick Piehouse and Appletree as especially good places to talk to about setting up and running venues as they have interesting models and queer-centric events.

People mentioned Bar Vanilla in Manchester and La Mutinerie in Paris as good queer AFAB/lesbian spaces that already exist.

No one in the group had experience of running a pub/bar venue, so a next step is meeting some folks with that experience and learning more.

Next we imagined that our home already existed and dreamt about what might happen in it. As well as drag king/thing nights and music/dancing, we dreamt about:
Strong programming that acknowledge intersections of marginalisation and supported people of colour, Deaf and disabled folks, fat folks, elders...
Fatness and fat activist events, including clothes swaps and fat nights.
Toilets that are accessible to everyone - including fat people and disabled people.
A changing place with a hoist
Deaf queer events eg BSL music nights and vibration packs
Queer sex ed for disabled and Deaf people. Accessible relationship talks.
Chilled community events like speed friendship/mentor dating
Daytime events and dry/sober events
Elders - finding them, being them
A massive library. Loads of books. Space to read and chill and think and study.
Movie nights
Rehearsal space
Zines and zine-making - a photocopier
Craft supplies and craft skill-swaps
Queer history events
Comedy (someone requested Hannah Gadsby)
A Buffy Buffet
Showers, launderette

On my way in this morning I also dreamt about:
Quiet days when there's no programmed activity or music playing but the building is open for anyone to hang out, chat, read, be safe.
Live music and open mics
Sound and light tech classes
Parenting events/workshops - perhaps connected to Mothers Who Make, perhaps other things

We went on to talk about ways this might all happen. We want to connect with Amy Lamé the Night Tzar, or any really rich lesbians that might want to matronise it.

We talked about other interesting models, like Repair Shop on Camberwell that runs shed-based activities for isolated older men, and W.A.N.C. who run alternative events for women, and Duckie's history nights.

We also talked about who gets in and how - is there a membership model? But allies are very much allowed! We talked about how one drunk cis man can really ruin the night and how to make sure the space stays safe. We talked about location and safety - safety as an access issue. We talked about codes of conduct but not ending up feeling like an exclusive place or an unwelcoming space.

Someone suggested talking to Regard - like Stonewall for Disabled people - as they might have some good advice.

We shared our emails so that we can stay in touch about this whole idea and make happen.

Next steps: I'm going to email everyone so we're all in touch.
I'm going to ask the room today to point me at people with experience of running pubs/community centres