Club Kali is unique, and still going after a quarter of a century. Despite threats, objections, discrimination, this secret tight knit club grew, people shared about it by word of mouth across the world. Battles with Section 28, HIV were added to the mix of racism and attitudes toward minority LGBT people. Club Kali emerged in this landscape of divisions and took on, as the name suggests, a battle against forces demonising LGBT people, and Black/South Asian communities.
Walking up those steps and through those doors at Club Kali felt like a real home, one big colourful community united. Although held one night a month, you came away stronger, knowing you belonged, you were part of a family that cared, that accepted you, allowed you to grow and escape. That sense of connectedness stayed with you long after you left Club Kali at the end of the night. The faces of individuals walking in for the first time, often lit up with exclamations of
“OMG, there are other people like me!”
At Club Kali, people opened up, shared their fears, worries, stories, hopes, wishes around coming out, or not, and about life and struggles as a LGBT person.
The Dome venue in an off the beaten track North London location became our Home. A genuine sprung wooden dancefloor big enough to do all the Bollywood and Bhangra moves you could desire, to really let your hair down, to discover and be your true self. Club Kali’s Chutney Queens (Trans community) were born and came out on stage, along with professional mainstream artistes who also performed, there was a lot of coming out on stage! Club Kali drew a multi-cultural following, non-Asians with Asians who yearned to hear Bollywood. Differences, languages, cultures all united on the dancefloor, through the mixing of Eastern beats with Western classics, and celebrating festivals from Eid, Diwali, Halloween to Christmas. This was and remains a privilege to witness, and a blessing.
Over time, we spread our wings to collaborations with events at The ICA, Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate, BFI Flare, Artists presenting album launches.
CLUB KALI NIGHTS
Our notable nights include:
- Parents Night where yes, parents joined us. One of the Queens went over to receive a “blessing” as someone else next to them took off his clothes down to one remaining item as it was so hot. Mother asked politely if this was a ‘normal’ occurrence.
- A building evacuation. Imagine the cheering when the fire engines pulled up, uniformed fire fighters with equipment. Need we say more?
- West Side Story! Southall Sistas vs the Brummie Beauties. The wigs, the nails, the “bumping on the dancefloor” leading to us become mediators!
Age of the Internet! Decades on Club Kali came out. After much deliberation, we went online and social media.
Club Kali continues to support the journey of all LGBTQ people and has in this time inspired Club Kali off-shoots in Birmingham, Manchester, clubs in London, New York and Canada.
CLUB KALI ACTIVITIES
Now, as Club Kali Network, we have built on our activities such as
- Socials events such as Bowling & Pizza, Queer Quiz nights, Meet-ups which help to reduce the isolation and enable peer support away from a club setting
- Partnerships Collaborations with campaigns such as Naz & Matt Foundation’s Walk, sexual health testing & awareness and programmes with Naz Project, Spectra-London, CLASH/CNL NHS Sexual Health teams
- Open Events for LGBTQI+ members and Friends & Allies eg, at BFI Flare Film Festival
- Pride events having hosted the first real World Music Tent at Pride in 1999, we were due to co-host the World Area for Pride London 2020
- Speaking on Panels, Company events, Conferences, Universities etc to raise issues faced by BAME/South Asian LGBTQI+ communities
Co-founders DJ Ritu & Rita
DJ Ritu has firmly established herself over three decades; winning numerous international awards, pioneering live music/artistes/DJ bands Asian Equation and Sister India with tours over 30 countries and performing at Tate Britain, Spiritland, WOMAD. Broadcaster at BBC Radio, Co-Founder of the cult label Outcaste Records signing up Nitin Sawhney, compiler for A Rough Guide series and creator of the UK’s definitive global music show, A World in London.
Currently DJ Ritu is a member of the GLA London Music Board, the European World Music Charts Panel, and works as the SOAS Concert Series Producer and freelance Consultant / Speaker.
Rita’s inspiration for Club Kali came out of her work in the field Domestic Violence (DV). A Social Psychologist, she established innovative projects including BAME Refuges and services, Outreach Projects. She re-established the UK’s only National LGBT DV Helpline. As a Consultant / Trainer, and expert in this field she understands the prevalence and impact of issues on the lives of LGBTQ people.
The need for a safe space drove Rita & DJ Ritu to establish Club Kali as a safe, and celebratory event space welcoming all LGBT/Queer people. Club Kali’s unique model provides a sense of belonging and support for this community, now more than ever on issues such as coming out, prejudice, HIV, mental/physical health, domestic violence, forced marriage, discrimination, and issues to reduce the isolation we face, an dto work with partners to address the gaps toward creating a more just, and equitable world for our communities.