If you've been paying even an ounce of attention, you've noticed Miami's queer scene has taken over the city. These sunny climes are home to a beautiful and thriving alternative community grounded in performance art and music that'll make you understand there's more to this town than uhntz-uhntz.
"Up until a few years ago, when we really started the parties, a queer scene didn't really exist in Miami," says Antonio Mendez, better known as Queef Latina, who along with Adam Gersten co-organizes the annual Wigwood Festival. "The only thing that existed was the South Beach scene, and that was what tourists and other people saw as Miami and Miami drag... but it wasn't up to par with other cities."
The Miami native spent six years living in New York City while going to school and then moved home. Queef says the scene she and her friends have helped grow in mainland Miami aims to create and foster community and safe spaces like those that were "readily available" in places such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta. Now, she believes, Miami's queer scene is "up to par and even above and beyond some other cities... Clubs in Miami only wanted to cater to tourists for a very long time. There was that age of Mansion, Mekka, and all of those big-name clubs... Now that that's all gone, it's kind of opened up a space for us to create our own thing, because for a long time, nobody wanted us... And now it's like, 'OK, well, fuck you — we're going to do it ourselves.'"
And she's doing just that alongside Gami and Miss Toto, for Red Bull Music Presents: Swetboxx, a steamy 12-hour warehouse party in Wynwood. Think Richard Simmons meets a neon gym set in the tropics. The three locals have joined forces with the brand as event curators for an experience where "inclusion, individuality, and sweat reign supreme." The three Miami luminaries hope to prove the 305 shouldn't go unnoticed. Queef says, "All we ever try to do is bring a lot of attention to Miami and Miami locals because sometimes we feel like we are shoved aside for whatever reason."
"I want everybody here to realize that Miami isn't fucking around," Queef laughs. "New York, we're coming for your gig. We're taking over."
Red Bull enlisted Internet Friends founder Gami to curate music for the event. In August 2017, Gami started the collective, featuring more than 18 trans, queer, and femme artists, when she wasn't satisfied with the music she was hearing at local events. Gami says, "We're teaching Miami how to dance."
The stacked event lineup includes headliner Mykki Blanco, with support from Quay Dash, Bronze Goddess, Gami, DJ Haram, Ariel Zetina, Lao, Debit, and others from featured local, national, and international collectives Discwoman, Papijuice, Naafi, Internet Friends, Space Tapes, Fempower, Catwalk, and Loveless Records.
"I have always wanted to bring in this very exceptional amount of talent to Florida," Gami says. "There's like this gap that needs to be filled, I feel, whether it is with alternative DJs, femme DJs, and trans and queer artists that is not filled in Florida enough."
The all-night bash will also include drag performances by Queef Latina, Miss Toto, and others; interactive installations by Miami artists D’ana Nunez, Aileen "Haiiileen" Quintana, Sleeper, and Veronica "Mokibaby" Gessa; and other diversions.
"I think that the reason Miami's queer scene is overlooked is because there aren't enough people trying to curate more queer parties, and their impression of queer is gay men," Gami says. "We are fighting for our space. Queer and trans women... we don't have our resources available to us... It's a man's world."
Gami is often denied space by other collectives, venues, and people. "It is so difficult out here for trans women and for queer-presenting people," she explains. "People think that our space is South Beach or gay clubs, but that's for gay men. That's not space for queer people and gender-nonconforming people... We are actually not even welcome at those spaces."
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The inclusive nightlong event at the warehouse will be divided into different areas featuring two stages and plenty of space for guests to move around. "It's going to be insane," Queef gushes.
Adds Gami: "We're here, we're fucking queer, and we're gonna fucking do it whether you like it or not."
Red Bull Music Presents: Swetboxx. With Mykki Blanco, Queef Latina, Miss Toto, Gami, and others. 9 p.m. Thursday, October 5, at C+L Trading, 555 NW 24th St., Miami. Tickets cost $10 to $15 via win.gs/swetboxx.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story misidentified the co-organizer of Wigwood.