50 Years of London Pride in 50 Tracks
In 1972 the first Pride march in London was attended by around 700 participants. Since that time, the annual event, which strives to support the diversity and equality of LGBT+ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, non-binary, asexual, polysexual, genderqueer and gender variant people [source: prideinlondon.org]), has continued to grow into an annual fixture in the city and across the country. There have been big developments since the first Pride parade; but it's not perfect, and there’s still a long way to go. Pride continues this weekend to do the much-important work of platforming and celebrating the variety, diversity and strength of the LGBTQ+ community.
To help us mark this half-a-century milestone we asked 5 figures and artists from the community to select some tracks that represent the evolution, eras and impact of Pride and the queer music scene across the past 50 years. Founder of LGBTQ+ Bollywood collective Ryan Lanji, south east London DJ, speaker, contemporary trained dancer and founder of B.A.D. NIKS, Manchester dance music veteran and staple at venues and parties over the years such as Hacienda to Homoelectric, DJ Paulette, and fabric residents Josh Caffé and Anna Wall, all contribute to this exclusive 50 track playlist commemorating 50 Years of Pride.
Featuring tracks old and new, from LCY, Octo Octa, Saoirse and more representing the contemporary scene, classic tracks from icons such as Sylvester and Tom Robinson who shaped created space for future generations to raise their voice and express with increasing freedom, to legends like whose voice and music has soundtracked the spirit and energy of the Gay Rights Movement like Gloria Gaynor, Donna Giles and Aretha Franklin. Listen below, and read more from our contributors on why these tunes make up their selections.
Join us to mark 50 years of London Pride this weekend with HE.SHE.THEY featuring Massimiliano Pagliara, Giulia Tess, TAAHLIAH, Cassy, Anna Wall, Hannah Holland and more. Tickets below and here.
Founder of imprints Dream Theory and The Bricks, with deep roots in the London electronic music scene, Anna Wall has been a club resident since 2019. This weekend (2nd July) she plays the HE.SHE.THEY Pride Special, set to bring her distinct stamp on forgotten deep house, reductionist dub techno and golden-era 90s house. Her picks reflect the sound of contemporary London, from the bassy energy of LCY, a wobby, off-kilter tune from Violet on naive, and Massimiliano Pagliara and Gulia Tess, who also join us for HE.SHE.THEY’s Pride Special – these tunes are a sheer sonic feast.
“Right now there’s many amazing queer collectives and artists that are doing great things both here and abroad, it’s exciting to see. Focusing on what’s going on in 2022 and the sound right now, this is a collection of music from artists I admire and that I believe are pushing things forward…”
Saoirse - You Can Come (Maricas Records)
Angel D’Lite - 303 Dalmatians (Planet Euphorique)
Violet - Espírito (naive)
Giulia Tess ft. Ell Murphy - I Feel You (He.She.They)
Josh Caffé - Do You Want To Take Me Home? (Phantasy Sound)
Octo Octa - Goddess Calling (T4T LUV NRG)
LCY - 22:22 (SZNS7N)
Discodromo & Massimiliano Pagliara - Samba Imperiale (Cocktail d’Amore)
Ryan Lanji is founder of HUNGAMA, the very first LGBTQ+ Bollywood club night in the UK and has since grown to become an empowering space of freedom for South Asian Queers and allies to express their individuality. What began at The Glory in Haggerston – a celebrated hub for East London’s queer scene – has evolved into a multifaceted rave and site for expressive activism. The party’s founder, cultural producer, curator, media personality and POC and LGBTQ+ activist Ryan Lanji, has grown the concept from the ground up. Ryan's selections reflect the sound of HUNGAMA and the artists who make up this dynamic collective.
“Nothing can encompass the power of reconnecting to your culture on the dance floor as a queer person of colour. HUNGAMA will always be the soundtrack of our visibility and celebration.”
Eva – Punctual
James Indigo & TAAHLIAH – Taste By Body
Heretix & Jordan Windows – Ascension
Seeva & HANDS – Outro (HANDS Remix)
ZAN – tu
Shivum Sharma – Diamond
Michael Calfan, HARBER, NISHA – Feelings After Dark (ft. NISHA)
NEO 10Y – Vapid Prophecy
Shivum Sharma – Words
Seeva – Twenty-two
With a career spanning nearly three decades, DJ Paulette has been a staple name at iconic venues across the world, from The Zap Club (Brighton), The Ministry of Sound, Queen Club and Mix Club (Paris), Cocoon (Frankfurt), Ibiza Rocks at Pacha and Pikes Hotel (Ibiza). Having originally cut her teeth at The Haçienda's Flesh night, the legendary gay night that paved the way for the iconic and thriving gay scene in “Madchester”. The tracks scope a real history of Pride; a song written for the 1976 parade by Manchester singer and poet Tom Robinson, a throwback to the ball culture and vogue houses of New York and more.
Tom Robinson - Glad to be Gay
“Written for the Gay Pride March in 1976 - has become Britain’s surprising and enduring, National Gay Anthem for the out, gay Manchester singer / poet.”
Sylvester - You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)
“I could have picked the entire Sylvester back catalogue to be fair. Icon.”
Gloria Gaynor - I Am What I Am
“Gloria Gaynor, disco diva, totally nails it ‘your life is a sham till you can shout out, I am what I am’. This song never leaves a dry eye in the house.”
Donna Giles - And I’m Telling You (I’m Not Going) Stonebridge Poppers Delight
“Taken from the stage play ‘Dream Girls’ this showstopper was given a house music rebrand from the magical mind of Stonebridge. It became my end of set ‘Flesh’ record in 1993 and remains a part of my arsenal.”
Aretha Franklin - Pride (A Deeper Love) - Clivilles & Cole.
“The original Deborah Cooper voiced version was revocalled by the Queen Of Soul Aretha Franklin for the soundtrack to Sister Act II.”
Rupaul - Supermodel
"Activist and gay rights ambassador since the late 80s, Rupaul brought the glamour and the pride to the dance floor. You bettah werq beeyatch..."
Club 69 - Let Me Be Your Underwear
"Peter Rauhofer delivered a sexy ‘work me work me’ club anthem with finger snaps for days…"
Willie Ninja - Hot
“Remixed for 2022 by Louie Vega and Josh Milan, Willie Ninja was one of my favourite figureheads of queer 80s/90s NYC nightlife. From Paris Is Burning to Madonna’s Vogue and Malcolm McLaren’s Deep In Vogue / Waltz Darling, Willie influenced my dance and my club style. Willie always worked the door for MAW parties and it was a joy always to be spotted and ushered in by his all-seeing gaze. Much missed.”
Malcolm McLaren - Deep In Vogue
“The lyrics say it all - a dedication to the ball culture and houses of New York.”
Janelle Monae - Make Me Feel
"Could have been anything off Dirty Computer which was essentially a coming out and a coming to being album for one of the most outspoken out artists and Gay rights activists."
South east London based DJ, speaker, contemporary trained dancer and founder of B.A.D., NIKS is a versatile digger and avid thinker. NIKS’ name and face has risen to the forefront of the electronic music industry as a driving force and powerhouse. Dive into a selection of tunes from important figures in the Black queer scene.
Robert Owens - I'll Be Your Friend
Frankie Knuckles - Your Love
Marshall Jefferson - Move Your Bod
"Owens, Knuckles and Jefferson were all 3 leading figures from Chicago who pioneered and led the Black gay scene and movement. After interviewing Owens and discovering that he was brought up in the church, but used his voice and music to express his gayness and accept himself for who he is. Both Knuckles and Jefferson created the warehouses ("house" term coined) as a "church for people who have fallen from grace” or simply put it, as a safe haven for Black gay people and these songs re-create that energy of freedom."
NuYorican Soul, Jocelyn Brown - I Am the Black Gold of the Sun
Barbara Tucker - Beautiful People
"Both of these tracks sung by 2 of the leading Black female vocalists of the 90s, tracks which would have resonated with the Black queer community as a way of liberation."
Moi Renee - Miss Honey
"This song tells a Black drag queen in a ''beef'' with another queen, showcasing fierceness and sass, she performs wearing the most extravagant wig and make up, with vocals which would later on become Miss Honey Dijon's stage name and used throughout her career."
Androgeny feat. Michael M - Genderbender (Now Work It) - Strictly Rhythms
"This upbeat 90s Strictly Rhythms release, parodies the idea of breaking gender norms and runs through the various pronouns that people would use (mistakingly) - "he? she? girl? boy? what? where? how? her?" in an attempt to gender someone who externally opposes gender norms - "gender bender, big pretender, break the gender". This track I've had on vinyl for over a year now, a special find as it does not exist digitally."
Another resident here at fabric, Josh Caffé has brought his signature, driving, sleazy electronica and vocals anywhere from underground venues, to the English National Opera, to right here in EC1 on numerous occasions. His 10 tracks take us through a period of time in the early noughties in Soho, when electro was soundtracking the streets and the bars of what was at the time, the place to be in London.
“Back in the early 00's there was an amazing electro revival scene in queer nightlife. This scene spawned iconic queer London parties like Cashpoint, Nag Nag Nag and The Cock. As well as artists and DJ's that pioneered this scene like Jim Warboy, Princess Julia, Jonjo Jury, Fil OK, Peaches, Chicks On Speed. It was also a time when Soho was still a notoriously good place to hang out. It's an era I miss a lot, found my queer tribe during this time.”
Miss Kittin - Frank Sinatra
Adult - Love Sick Minors At Night
Avenue D - Do I Look Like A Slut
The Big Fake - Traffic Signs
Fad Gadget - Lady Shave (John Aquaviva's Robo-Sapien Vox)
Dogboy! - Transworld Electric (Pulsinger Remix)
Anthony Rother - Back Home
Linda Lamb - Hot Room
Chicks On Speed - Kaltes Klares Wasser
Mount Sims - Black Sunglasses