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BBZ: the duo repping queer women of colour

04 May 2016

Yero is still on so much of a high after last month’s art exhibition and dance, BBZ at Buster Mantis, she decided to interview both founders about why they wanted to create a space celebrating women of colour of all spectrums.

“BBZ is the kind of night where you can expect to experience art, good conversation and hear those tunes you always wish got played in the rave instead of your bedroom. The kind of night lead by cis, trans, queer AND/OR genderqueer/non-binary women of colour but open to anyone who is open.

The exhibition element of the night is there to immerse every guest into the thoughts and experiences of those very people and incite a level of respect and compassion for those around them.”

Photographer and fashion producer, Tia Simon-Campbell and filmmaker Nadine Davis are the dynamic brains behind BBZ (Babes). Nadine and Tia are both creative partners, but they’re the kind of duo you can tell are also close friends. After initially meeting on the set of a “dire first year film in the form of a Cheryl Dunye-esque music video directed by Nadine that will never see the light of day”, they became good friends.

Tia Simon-Campbell of BBZ

Tia Simon-Campbell shot by Ian Davies

Tia is a third generation South-east Londoner and humbly calls herself an “all round creative and professional blagger”, but it’s obvious the Fashion Photography graduate has always been a hard-worker. “I grew up with a young mum on a mission to give her cub the best start in predominantly white spaces, her determination has certainly rubbed off on me.”

Nadine Davis of BBZ

Nadine Davis shot by Ian Davies

Nadine, who has always gone by her birth name but is steadily working on an alias, is a fellow South-east Londoner. “I’m the youngest child of two hard back Jamaicans and an inherent lover of all things queer and a film fiend from early, both of which feed my everyday.” After graduating in Film at Ravensbourne University, Nadine has constantly been working in film production, “I’m actually in the midst of creating a documentary web series focusing on black British MOC’s and Trans Men, so hol’ tight for ‘UNDONE’ the series.”

BBZ came about from a mixture of frustration in a lack of spaces for queer women of colour and anyone in between and a bit of an ode to South London. It’s not to say of course, that there are no queer spaces for women of colour in London, let alone south of the river. Nadine says she had her come up in Vauxhall’s black gay scene, “but I needed something different, a reflection of me and mine.”

BBZ Pola 1

The night [at Deptford venue, Buster Mantis] is centred around the celebration of queer, non binary women of colour who are killing it in their respective fields, carving out a space dedicated to creating a community and cutting shapes in the process. I’m a straight woman, and at BBZ, I felt like I was bumping in to different versions of myself on the dance floor. There was no pretence or social hierarchy, people were just getting down and it genuinely felt like a massive family gathering.

“I went to a queer day party in San Francisco called ‘swagger like us’ that had me gassed.” Nadine was amazed at how the night was able to master both safe space culture, whilst still being authentic and creating a welcoming vibe. “I’ve been desperate to make that happen here with queer women of colour at the heart of the curation.”

“The fact that it’s a black owned business holding its own in south London and in the face of such rapid gentrification, is something we can’t help but admire. Finally there is a Caribbean restaurant where every element has been considered, it’s staying true to its roots while pushing boundaries and bridging societal gaps.”

Buster Mantis seemed like the perfect space to accommodate BBZ’s vision. “The owner Gordon is the ultimate honorary BBZ, he gets what we’re trying to achieve and whole heartedly supports and understands what we are doing, which is exactly what you want in a working relationship.”

Photo: Tia Simon-Campbell

Photo: Tia Simon-Campbell

BBZ isn’t just a night, it’s a collective and extremely integral movement that transcends London and moved to the online sphere. The duo put their emphasis on the curators rather than the audience: “By creating a strong internal BBZ family it means that everyone is a friend of someone. We’re not interested in numbers. We would much prefer a strong network of loyal BBZ, coming together to support and slow wine on one another.”

In the true and honest words of both Nadine and Tia, “BBZ is essentially trying a ting and trusting that London is full of people who want just that. The next BBZ is gonna be more vibes, more laughs and more female excellence.” So see you all at the dance.

BBZ Pola 2

The next BBZ is this Saturday night, May 7th at Buster Mantis.