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Yes Yes Y’all (left); Aneela Q
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YES YES Y’ALL + DUDEBOX PRESENT NICE UP! at the 519 Church Street Community Centre (519 Church), Friday (May 30), 10 pm. $5 (50 per cent of profits donated to the 519).
Last October, six friends threw a Halloween party at a car wash at King and Bathurst. Around 700 people showed up to dance to hip-hop, and the organizers raked in over $10,000, which they donated to the Manifesto Festival.
The bash was Dudebox, an event that evolved from house parties Daniel Tal and five roommates threw when they lived in a massive Chinatown loft space in 2007. As their numbers outgrew the apartment (the floors were caving in), they started organizing pop-up parties in unorthodox venues, giving the proceeds to charity.
Since then, Dudebox has raised more than $80,000 for various Toronto-based organizations through blowouts that draw a cross-section of revellers. But the last one was different.
"We noticed there was a ton of gay people. That's a new development," says Tal. "To create such a safe environment - that's a huge accomplishment."
To build on that momentum, Tal reached out to Aneela Q (aka DJ Nino Brown), one of the promoters behind the monthly queer hip-hop party Yes Yes Y'All, and suggested they team up.
"What stood out the most was how much they care about the events and how they aren't doing it for money," says Q. "That's hard to come by these days."
On Friday, the two join forces for what they hope will be the first of many events. The location - and recipient of 50 per cent of profits - is the 519 Church Street Community Centre, a Village hub for over 35 years.
Tal and Q both gush about the vibe the other has fostered at their respective jams: inclusivity, which was also a focus when indie promoter Dalton Higgins and Wavelength's Jonny Dovercourt teamed for the cross-genre NICE show in April.
Both Dudebox and Yes Yes Y'All are run by friends of different ethnicities, genders and sexualities, which comes in handy in attracting crowds but also in dealing with venues and conflict.
Over five years, Q has watched Yes Yes Y'All become more diverse. "There was something about the vibe that made all different walks of life feel comfortable. It was our job to make sure everyone felt safe," she says, adding that openness in dealing with things like security issues, fights and politicking goes a long way.
"We took [those things] very seriously," she continues. "We dealt with it privately. We dealt with it publicly. It's our job to be transparent."
Above all, both promoters believe their intention is key to their success.
"You go into it with the right attitude. We aren't there to make money. We really just want to have fun," says Tal. "It's not easy throwing these pop-up parties, so if you're gonna do that and not get paid, you better have a good time."