Global Pride 2020: The Future is…Seltzer
SoundCloud provides a platform for anyone, anywhere to express themselves freely and connect with like-minded creatives. Throughout Pride Month we’ll be sharing the stories of global collectives who are building networks in the name of inclusivity, while giving you ways to support their missions and create your own communities.
The future is…Seltzer
By the time Seltzer founder Bearcat touched down in West Philadelphia a few years ago she had already established a successful music career. The London-born DJ and producer has performed sets from Egypt to Oakland, earned a spot on Discwoman’s illustrious roster (that we featured on our 2017 Next Wave series) and provided creative direction at festivals like Afropunk and Glastonbury. Yet, the more she acclimated to her new home the more she sensed her next calling.
“There are many brilliant scenes in Philly,” she says, “but at that time there wasn’t anything specifically aimed at the black and brown community in the underground experimental club scene.” The deeper she meshed with the city, the more she dreamed of a space where she could “dance until 5 am surrounded by her people” while listening to the latest underground tracks, edits and remixes. “The majority of the LGBTQ party scene here is very top 40,” she explains, “While I respect everyone’s outlet, that isn’t mine.”
Up until that point, Bearcat had never wanted to throw parties. For her it felt like “risky business,” compared to playing sets and being paid no matter the turnout. In the end, it was her connection to the community and feeling the gap in the city that changed her mind.
With the seedling idea firmly planted in her mind, Bearcat sought her first friend in Philadelphia,
Chaska Sophia aka Precolumbian. Though it took some convincing, the pair decided to team up, settling on the name Seltzer for their QTPOC-centered experimental club night and collective – a tribute to their shared love of seltzer water. Together they began planning their first party, with the explicit intention of centering and exclusively booking black and brown LGBTQ talent.
Pride amid the crisis
As with other collectives across the world, Seltzer is working hard to navigate the pandemic. Bearcat is quick to shout out her agency Discwoman and all the venues that Seltzer operates out of for providing support. Yet, COVID 19 is not the only crisis her community is wrestling with.
“I can’t discuss COVID or really have any public dialog without mentioning the other pandemic which has plagued the world for centuries: systemic racism and it’s brutal effect on the black community.” She shares, “There is an outright war on my people and until it ends (which I don’t foresee in my lifetime) I will never not bring these issues to the forefront and fight for them, I plan on creating spaces beyond the dancefloor for black people to be heard, seen and be given greater opportunities. I am conjuring.”
“Now is a time for action and it is time to center black liberation and especially power. It has been time. You can support me by supporting black people, protecting us at all costs and seeing us beyond our pain and suffering. BLACK LIVES MATTER.”
The future is you, too
Since its kick off, not only have the parties been a success, others have followed Seltzer’s lead. Now the city is no longer a desert for those looking for such spaces. Seeing the ripple effect it’s had on her city, Bearcat encourages anyone who’s interested to follow suit, as long as they have these key qualities: clear core values, a strong work ethic, and total transparency with the people they work with.
And of course, a realistic mindset. “It’s really not at all as glamorous as it looks and it is risky. You will probably deal with things like losing money and facing obstacles with venues, but that has to be embraced.”
Local artists to support
If you want to stream and support local artists, Bearcat recommends checking out Marcelline, an incredible artist who works within the realms of performance art, sound and “the spirit world.” She has played Seltzer and recorded a mix for them that you can find on their SoundCloud page. She says she can’t talk about artists in Philadelphia without acknowledging the inspirational legend Moormother. BB Basura is another standout talent and one of her favorite DJs who has also played Seltzer.