Mari Navarro of Gothess

Along with the holidays already being a dark time for many people (literally and figuratively), and with so many shows being postponed at this typically robust holiday time for our Arts & Culture scene, we thought we better connect with Mari Navarro (they/them) aka DJ Q, the creator of dark dance night parties Gothess. Here’s a lot of insight into the event scene at the end of 2021 and a little bit of hope, too.

DISPATCH: You have two big parties coming up this weekend—Dead Zone on Thursday night at Icehouse and GOTHESS New Year Eve Goth Party (Tarot Theme) at Mortimer’s on Friday. Is this back-to-back extravaganza a manifestation of your readiness to move into 2022?
Mari Navarro: I did have two shows back to back, but the Gothess NYE event has been postponed till next Friday Jan 7th, 2022. Mortimer’s made a tough call today (12/28/21) to postpone all events for this week. The Thursday event “Dead End” at Icehouse is still on, which will showcase all the resident DJ’s of 2021, which include DJ Q from Gothess (aka myself), DJ PERSEPHONE, DIE/ASPORA, DJ DAZZLE. These are DJ’s that I have had guest DJ since the birth of Gothess, and I’m in a good place where I can give a platform to BIPOC Queer artist and something worth celebrating while closing out the last Thursday of the year.

Our friends from Mort’s have said that Gothess parties are some of the most fun events that happen at that bar. 
Places like Mortimer’s and Part Wolf have really shown up for BIPOC queer artist and promoters, and it really has made an impact on the dance scene. The goth scene itself can tend to lack diversity so I wanted to utilize Gothess as a vehicle to create a different vision of what a dark scene could look like and be. I love the staff at Mort’s and that they are so open to letting me transform their space for my events. Creating an atmosphere for people to visually navigate and enjoy at my events is important. I don’t have a huge budget so little things go a long way, and create most of the things I utilize for the night. So working with venues that value my vision and work has been a blessing as the night grows.

Dark dance parties are on the uptick here in MPLS + STPL—any insight why? Is it just the dark days? Is it a new generation catching up to the elder goths and new wave punks? 
The goth community keeps growing and it has a loyal following because it doesn’t play up to all the binaries most dance communities do. I’ve been in the goth scene for decades and my coming out story felt more welcoming in the goth community then the queer community. And that honestly made an impact on me, so now I’m mindful of that and work on creating nights that are inclusive in every way possible. I definitely believe that has been one of the driving forces of the growth and interest in the dark MPLS + STPL that folks are seeing themselves represented. Showing up to a Gothess night and seeing Trans BIPOC Queer artist will make an impact and will bring out those that feel unseen or feel the lack of community. The music helps too, but we are always looking for community especially during the harsh realities of the pandemic. And I’m always overwhelmed with gratitude that I have been able to provide a place for us even during the dark days.

You recently mentioned that the industry is still in such a fragile state and that you’re offering discounts for folks who also have boosters, which is *Awesome*. Do you think we can continue like this if this is the new normal? What do the cards say? 
Yes, the industry is still in a fragile state, everything is really. We’ve all had to step up in some form or another. I remember doing events outside to just keep us all mentally sane during the first wave of COVID without a vaccine. Marking down 6ft apart dancing spots outside with tape, and requiring a mask outdoors kept us all from losing all sense of reality. And you just don’t forget that. A lot of us are still struggling with the impact of being in lockdown for so long, so getting back to things even with a vaccine has been a complicated and evolving situation to heal from. But, we all experience it in many ways, it’s a domino effect. But, it also shows how resilient we are. And that is what I try to remind folks is that we’ve gone through a lot together as a community, and to not forget that. This is just another set back we need to get through. Everyone wants to get back to normal, and I believe someday we will. Pandemics do end, but right now we are in one, and all we can do is try to find ways to stay connected outside of our screens. So, creating standards that can be implemented to drive up the incentive for folks to look out for one another while keeping our spaces safer from a large spread of the virus is important to consider. I made the call this week to provide a discount from the entry cover for folks that showed proof of their booster shot. I hope that other nights and venues follow suit.

Despite things, I believe 2022 will be a very creative and good year for many of us, because we are more resilient than we give each other credit for. 🙂

Dead Zone is still happening this Thursday night at Icehouse (see above) and the GOTHESS New Year Eve Goth Party (Tarot Theme) at Mortimer’s has been rescheduled to the 7th.

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