A dancing figure with a three-colour rainbow in the background jumps out from Ahmed and Aura’s tees. Ahmed Mahamed and Aura Lydon dance, as their collective’s name suggests, with pride—for who they truly are. Dance With Pride is bound by a “great passion for music and club culture”, but their cause is not “reduced to just T-shirts and parties”. The Amsterdam-based collective has a clear-cut agenda: they not only foster (dancefloor) conversations about LGBT+ inclusivity in greater society, but are also highly concerned with the LGBT+ among refugee communities and other minorities in the Netherlands. And one way to share this concern is by rendering party people to their captivating moves—and T-shirts. We met the duo for our “Modern Family” issue.
What is your conception of “Modern Family”?
Our definition of a Modern Family is those that accept you for who you truly are. We are very close friends and have our private and work lives blurred so we are constantly at work on the initiative. This closeness can at times be intense but we are able to sense when we need to support each other or allow ourselves to take breaks. This way of working could not have been possible had we not accepted each other fully.
What’s the passion/state of mind that binds you together?
Both: We both have great passion for music and club culture, which is also what brought us together. We are bound by our shared drive to have necessary and at times challenging conversations in order to create positive change.
What ideas, values, feelings, are at the core of your collective? And how do you explore them through your work?
Both: Community. This is a common thread that runs throughout all the work that we so and the projects that we support. Project queer welfare build and sustain social network for LGBT+ refugees and bi-cultural LGBT+ people. And the connections made at these gatherings are essential for building a much-needed support system. Supporting these kinds of grassroots projects is something that is important to us and at the core of our initiative.
Do you have any ritual(s) before, during or after participating in an event?
Both: During an event, we will have a short moment where we allow ourselves to bask in our accomplishments together before returning to business.
As a collective, what would you never do?
Both: We will not let the initiative divert from raising awareness for causes we believe in. This is the reason we started this initiative and we won’t let it be reduced to just T-shirts and parties. We will always be doing this with a bigger picture in mind—to give the proceeds to the causes close to our hearts.
Do you have a hierarchy? How do you achieve consensus?
Ahmed: We don’t have a hierarchy, we discuss almost everything that we do and make a decision together. Although we do have our own areas of expertise and so there are certain things that we don’t need to discuss, as we trust in the other’s choices. For example, when it comes to artwork or anything that has to do with the visual side of it, I know Aura has it on lock. She asks for my opinion here and there in a more general sense, but I know she is the best at it and trust her completely.
Aura: Awww… Ahmed is my muse! He inspires the visual side a lot with his use of colour and sunny personality. Ahmed has unrivaled enthusiasm when speaking about our initiative and is able to inspire others, make connections wherever he may be. He will always hit me up after a night out with good news about someone he has met that wants to get involved with our work in some way or another – he is a natural networker so I can always trust him to bring me exciting opportunities that we then discuss together.
Who would you like to inspire with your work?
Our intentions started very locally and soon enough we had people from all over the work in out DMs telling us how the initiative resonated with them. This inspires and motivates us, while at the same time reassuring us that we are doing it the right way.