Our Guide To The Summer Festivals Of 2012

Dance music has roots in queer Midwestern spaces. Today, a crop of underground house and techno parties in the Rust Belt region is adding a new chapter to that genre’s history.

“It’s amazing that you can pull something off with this level of diversity in the middle of nowhere,” said Shane Christian, a 22-year-old D.J. from Cleveland, of Honcho Campout, a weekend-long party in the woods of southern Pennsylvania. “Everyone’s there for a reason, and the energy is so palpable.”

Now in its fourth year, Honcho Campout has become a cult destination for those who prefer weird and intimate dance spaces, much like the regular parties at Hot Mass, a gay bathhouse turned after-hours club in Pittsburgh, out of which the event was born.

Think of it as an antidote to the selfies-in-the-V.I.P.-section festival: cameras on the dance floor are discouraged, booze sales are cut off at midnight while subwoofers go till sunrise, and tickets are kept affordable.

Lineup-wise, this year brings D.J.s from Los Angeles’s Spotlight Party and San Francisco’s Honey Soundsystem, as well as from Chicago, Detroit and Washington, D.C. “It’s kind of a D.I.Y. annual report of the queer dance scene,” said the organizer Aaron Clark.

Early Honcho parties were populated largely by men; for its first two years, the party was held at Roseland, a clothing-optional gay resort in West Virginia. The current location, the Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary, was chosen with expanded queer inclusivity in mind.

You can still get naked. “I’m not usually at ease with that at queer parties because I’m so self-conscious. I’ve had dysphoria since I was a kid,” said Eris Drew, 42, a house D.J. from Chicago whose music includes references to shamanistic techniques as well as to 1990s rave culture, and who played Campout last year. “But I felt free dancing with my partner. My body wasn’t ridiculed or even overly focused on. It was the lunar equinox, and you could hear the drone of the insects melding with the kick drums. It was magical and healing.”

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Our Guide To The Summer Festivals Of 2012

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Our Guide To The Summer Festivals Of 2012