#33: Dan Lee (Night Sweats)
This week we are joined by multidisciplinary creative and historian, Dan Lee of ‘Night Sweats’, who tells us more about Speed Garage, being a hater, wearing earplugs in the club, and more!
Dan Lee is a multidisciplinary creative and historian, working as a public historian, DJ, and promoter. Across all these disciplines, their work focuses on queer nightlife — from running the up-and-coming queer multi-genre party ‘Night Sweats’ to their MA research on Soweto’s Queer Nightlife between the 1970s and 2000s. When DJing, they play an eclectic mix of euphoric dance music, from the Disco and Hi-NRG of Queer Nightlife’s past to the techno, gqom and house of its present. A love and reverence for queer people and their history runs at the heart of everything Dan does.
We welcome them to The FRM Newsletter to share what they’ve been into recently.
🎶🚴♀️ NIGHT SWEATS
To start with some shameless self-promo, I want to talk about Night Sweats. I’m really trying to build something special here — a queer-forward party that cultivates more diverse sounds within a club setting. Sonic diversity and a freer approach to DJing lies at the core of this — at Night Sweats, we mix Gqom with Speed Garage (more on that later) and Detroit’s Techno with Luanda’s Kuduro, fostering a sound that reflects the melting pot that is Joburg, and the relatively consistent practice of appropriating international trends in dance music through a cosmopolitan, forward-thinking lens.
It’s easy to look to Europe and the US and feel jealous or as if we’re missing out. Clubs there accommodate the entire spectrum of queer nightlife sensibilities — from full contact sex-positive clubs and darkrooms to multi-stage festivals, day raves and week-long campouts. There are a number of factors at play which have allowed their scenes to flourish while Joburg and Cape Town seem to lag behind, but at the core of these scenes are authenticity, consistency and community. Night Sweats is trying to foster those values, without necessarily attempting to replicate the parties we see online or overseas; to do so would be anachronistic to the realities of Joburg’s nightlife — a reality of declining venues, vastly different socioeconomic contexts and, most importantly, a different nightlife history.
There’s a new wave of queer nightlife hitting the shores of Joburg right now — one centred on authenticity, home-like spaces and sonic diversity. I feel so honoured to be running Night Sweats in the same spaces as parties such as Nadia Sanetra’s Love2Love, the long- standing P_ssy Party and Disco De Moda, and the emerging Eden kink-friendly party which is set to start running in April. I’m very excited to see the spaces a new generation of promoters carve out for themselves and I can say first-hand that the process of growing. Night Sweats over the last 6 months has been exceptionally rewarding. The next Night Sweats will be taking place at Kitcheners on the 20th of March, from 20:00 - Late.
🤝🦻 EARPLUGS IN THE CLUB
This one is basic science and I won’t be taking questions. It’s well-documented that clubs almost universally play their music too loud — and especially if you’re one of the girls who like to stand front-and-centre, even 15 minutes without earplugs can cause lasting damage to your ears. Earplugs don’t compromise the sound quality of the music either — if anything it helps to muffle overly-crisp high notes in a way that drastically improves the club experience.
Try them out next time you go out and when you’re in bed post-groove, think about how grateful you are that you listened to me. You can get a reusable pair from Dischem for R35. Also, some people talk too much on the dancefloor — block them out.
📲 Watching Reels instead of TikToks
We don’t need more apps, I’m sorry. I’m also not interested in trying to train an app for a week so my FYP isn’t atrocious. Reels are right there in front of you, and you’ve definitely had your Instagram account for more than 5 years. I don’t care if it takes 2 weeks for a TikTok to end up on Instagram, I can wait.
Lilies has secured a very unique position in the pirate radio space. More a community than a radio station, its commitment to high-quality, concept-forward programming has allowed it to develop a potent roster of both seasoned & up-and-coming resident DJs. Pirate radio is so important for many reasons — it’s anti-commercial (we Marxist!), it allows for complete broadcasting freedom for contributors and often acts as a direct line to the underground DJs that keep our music scenes alive. By forgoing platforms like FM broadcasting or Apple Music podcasts, Pirate Radio stations are able to foster unique, meaningful radio shows for the heads and weirdos out there. Recent highlights include the Circles and Squares show, NGIYINHLOSO’s Nebandla Lakhe and the first episode of Lilies’ new podcast series with Bridge Books. Check them out, as well as all our amazing residents and guests on wearelilies.com. There really is something for everyone.
🔪😈 BEING A HATER
Hating has direct, undeniable benefits for your health. Once you accept that everyone’s a hater, it allows you to process your frustrations and will definitely make you a funnier person with clearer skin. Holding onto that shit fosters resentment and bad energy for no good reason at all. Being a hater when you’re with your closest friends doesn’t make you fake, it makes you real. Even if you’re nice to someone in public, hating doesn’t mean you think anything less of them — it’s nothing personal. Their vibes were simply off and you need to talk about it. We all do it, so embrace it.
🎼🎚 SPEED GARAGE
SG is the best genre in the world — followed closely by Gqom and Big-Voiced Diva House. Born in the mid-1990s as Garage House cemented itself in the mainstream, SG mixes House vocals and Jungle-style sweeping basslines with Garage’s signature breakbeat mania. The result is a housey, euphoric, manic genre full of long breakdowns and heavy sample usage. I’ve never played SG out and received a mild reaction to it.
For me, Speed Garage captures the essence of Dance Music — a DIY approach to making music where producers like Neil Rumney and Armand van Helden were bootlegging pop vocals and time-stretching them for no other reason than because they could. Speed Garage also interests me because of how regional it was — it emerged out of a tiny part of Northern England, and, to this day, finds its most consistent base of support in cities like Salford and Manchester.
You can catch a two-hour-long Speed Garage special on Night Sweats Radio on Lilies, live from 15:00 - 17:00 on Saturday the 18th of March. For further listening, check out producers like Finn, Big Ang, Neil Rumney (Trotters Independent Traders, DBX) and Double 99.
📀 RECORD SHOPPING
Online streaming services have drastically changed music, automating discovery and exploration in a way that pushes algorithms and marketing onto the listener with little opportunity for chance or randomness to influence what we come across. While I’m ultimately ambivalent about this development, it has resulted in something which I consider unforgivable: we’ve stopped listening to bad music.
I get it, we’re busy, and Spotify’s daily mixes push the boat out just far enough for us to discover a new artist every now and then. If that’s all you want, there’s no shame in that. But there’s something very special about sifting through beat-up record sleeves and asking the people at the record store to play something for you, only to hear the worst song you’ve ever heard in your life. Every now and then you’ll find a real gem, and it can send you down a rabbit hole filled with producers, record labels and music that hasn’t ever been digitised.
If you’re trying to branch out, channel your palaeolithic hunter-gatherer instincts and spend the afternoon with the second-hand bins at ‘RecordMad’ in Linden, or on Facebook Groups like ‘Back2WaxSA’. I promise it’s worth it.
💯💰 HAVING 18 SIDE HUSTLES
Because who needs financial literacy when you’re too burnt out to spend money? On the real, I strongly believe that our 20s are for getting burnt-the-fuck-out. While the pandemic forced us inside and to commit to a level of work that wasn’t sustainable, the post-Covid era is ripe for us to try new things, start new projects and diversify. Current trends like quiet quitting and doing the bare minimum at our jobs shouldn’t be taken as a suggestion to be idle, but rather to reprioritise our time, and invest it in the side-gigs that enrich our lives.
Start a YouTube channel or a club night, start sewing, do anything that takes your mind off of the emails and excel sheets that await at 8 AM on Monday. Dodge toxicity by avoiding the urge to commercialise every hobby, and make your side hustles creative if you can. Only do what you’re capable of doing, but if it’s possible to make some extra cash, go for it. Side hustles also enrich your CV, and that’s important to consider in a job market filled with university graduates and entry-level experience.
🎧 EXPENSIVE HEADPHONES
If you’re anything like me, you spend a good portion of your day listening to music. We’re all overstimulated and riddled with anxiety, and oftentimes music helps us function. It makes sense therefore to put as much as you can into your listening gear, and the return on investment is clear — higher quality sound, better noise cancelling, and more comfort. Ask yourself how much you’d pay for a 2-hour long high-quality listening experience, and multiply that by how many days you’d expect the headphones to last. There’s no use working on financial literacy and our jobs if we aren’t using that to make our lives better and more comfortable.
I try to apply this principle to all of my daily ‘consumables.’ Forget the latest Nike Collab, buy expensive linen or nicer plates and cutlery. Make the things you use most frequently higher quality, and you’ll replace them less often (thus saving money in the long run) and have a better time using them.
🥃 Gin Shots
People who do Tequila shots should be studied for their commitment to drunkenness at any cost, and for their seeming invincible stomachs. Gin is smoother, goes down easier and is less likely to make you run to the closest toilet to cradle the bowl thinking about your hubris. Gin is made from Juniper Berries, so you’re basically just drinking cold-pressed juice, which yoga moms do so you know it’s good for you. Argue with the wall.
what she said
amazing and well thought out curation 💞 gotta disagree on the gin shots tho😦