A Festival, A Platform For The Underrepresented
    • TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017

    • Posted by: Chris Deverell

    One doesn't have to look around too much to get the feeling that, more often than not, concerts and music scenes are dominated by men. There is nothing inherently wrong with cis-men attending shows and participating in music scenes. Yet as with other aspects of culture and society, music does not exist in a bubble, and there is an intersection of the issues facing our society and the spaces in which they occur.

    Representation of women-identifying and non-binary persons has long been cited as an issue by concert and festival participants, and was highlighted in this year's Vans Warped Tour where out of 386 performers, only 15 were women.

    Additionally, there is a disturbing trend of sexual assaults occurring at shows and festivals. These assaults have become such an issue, that in the wake of several assaults at the Swedish music festivals Bråvalla and Putte I Parken, there is even a plan to create a festival in Sweden entirely prohibiting cis-men.

    Three years ago, in Northern New Jersey, these concerns were heard, and similar plans were formulated for a festival for femme and non-binary-identifying persons—though cis-men were permitted and encouraged to attend. Thus, Not Just A Boys Club was born.

    Now in its third year, Not Just A Boys Club is a one-day hardcore and punk mini festival, this year being held in Teaneck, New Jersey.

    As co-founder Michelle Mancuso described it, Not Just A Boy's Club is "...meant to give women and queer folks a voice for an entire day. To be in the spotlight the entire day. To raise awareness to women's and queer issues for the entire day. To create a sense of community, which is sometimes lost at punk and hardcore shows."

    While the festival is open for persons of all identities to attend and enjoy, all bands must have at least one non-cis-male member, and all the vendors are women and non-binary identifying. Besides the bands, the festival includes art and merchandise vendors, a bake sale and raffle.

    In addition to providing a platform for those who are often underrepresented, the festival is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. After covering expenses for the venue, all profits raised are donated, and in the past two years, nearly $2,000 dollars were raised for organizations such as the Essex County RAIN Foundation in Orange, New Jersey and the SWAG Project in Newark, New Jersey.

    Perhaps most importantly though, Mancuso said that in the first two years of the festival, people came up to her afterward to tell her how included they felt, and how they were able to connect with others at a show in a way that they were unable to previously.

    "The tenor of the day reflects the purpose of the fest, inclusion," Mancuso said. "So again maybe biased, but it always feels like people are significantly more inclusive that day than usual."

    Not Just A Boys Club III will be held on November 4 in Teaneck, New Jersey. Information and tickets can be found online here and here.

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