You probably already got the memo: WHOLE is happening. From the 14th until the 17th of June, the queer electronic music festival is taking over the gritty grounds of Ferropolis, the German “city of iron” you’ve likely experienced before as the backdrop of MELT! Festival. For its third edition, WHOLE has invited the widest spectrum of queer artists and collectives from around the world to revel and rave in music, art and self-liberation. Chatting to the team behind this year’s experience, Glamcult got you the nuts and bolts of the weekend-long party—which is, more than anything, “an exercise in community building”.
When and where was WHOLE born? And what does the name imply?
The word “whole” literally means “unit” and is a declaration of intentions: to unite the queer scene of Berlin, Europe and the World for a 3-day camping experience, aiming to create an inclusive environment in which all gender identities and sexual orientations are welcome. The very first edition of WHOLE happened in 2017 at Bergheider See.
What makes this year’s edition of WHOLE unique?
WHOLE is already unique on its own. 🙂 It’s the first ever queer electronic music camping festival in Europe, you won’t find anything else quite like it!
Which artists on this year’s line-up make the WHOLE team (beyond) excited?
Needless to say, we’re thrilled to have The Black Madonna joining this year’s line-up: she loves what we’re doing so much that she immediately became a supporter, herself already being an advocate of the representation of women in dance music. We couldn’t be happier to have her headlining the festival, together with countless other amazing women DJs, like Jennifer Cardini, Noncompliant, Rroxymore, Violet and many more.
Music makes up the majority of the WHOLE weekend. But what else is on the festival programme?
This year we will have again a dedicated stage for performances: House of Living Colors—an open drag collective particularly for Black Queer and Trans people—and Trhans will be both part of Friday’s program, while on Saturday there will be more art performances and live acts (amongst others, Mister Wallace and Karma She) hosted by Olympia Bukkakis. A series of panel discussions are also planned for both Friday and Saturday, plus a number of workshops and activities. You can find the complete list of performers here!
Next to a number of Berlin-based queer collectives, you have invited the likes of Mina (Lisbon), Horoom (Tbilisi), Spielraum (Amsterdam) and Unter (New York). How did you go about selecting and teaming up with these organisations? What sets them apart and, mostly, what do they all have in common?
It’s some kind of a mission we all share. What we’re trying to do with WHOLE, we also do at our monthly parties in Berlin. So do all these collectives we invited, and it’s the reason why we’re having them: each of them struggle in their own cities to create situations where people are free to be and coexist peacefully for a night or a weekend. It can be harsh, as the Bassiani story and many others are showing us. Because of this, on Saturday afternoon there will be a panel by Lecken’s Wanda Vrasti and Zoe Harris together with Bassiani’s Horoom, about the importance of building a safer space in queer nightlife and the political meaning of the dancefloor. Dancing in Berlin, dancing in Tbilisi, dancing in Mexico City: what does it REALLY mean for queer people?
Your bio reads: “This is a festival that strives to represent the best of Berlin and the greater scene. Act accordingly”. Beyond personal responsibility, how does WHOLE—on a very practical level—ensure an open, liberating and safe environment for all?
WHOLE is run almost entirely by queer people, so everyone is working towards this. This year the head of security, who is also queer and usually works as a bouncer at a number of parties in Berlin, will bring in some of his folks to join Ferropolis’ local security team. For extra safety, there will be also an awareness team, which people can reach out to any time for help.
The (ecological) footprint of a festival might have been intentionally or unknowingly overlooked some years ago, but today this has become a more and more important matter. Being a queer festival, how does WHOLE approach accountability?
We have reached a point in climate history that is absolutely critical. It’s pretty clear if we don’t change things fast, the consequences are gonna be devastating and even worse, irreversible. For this, as a festival we’re trying to reduce our carbon footprints as much as possible. In fact, one of the reasons why we decided to do WHOLE at Ferropolis is that 70% of its energy comes from solar panels. This year we also added extra buses connecting the festival site to the closest train stations so that people will be encouraged to come by train or bus. On top of that, we’re getting more vegetarian and vegan food stands and we’re planning to use compostable cutlery and plates for the backstage.
When someone leaves the beautiful Ferropolis grounds after WHOLE ’19, what’s the feeling, thought or new perspective you hope they’ll take home?
We hope they will feel somehow reassured a better world is possible. Like they time travelled to a utopian future, in which all kinds of people live peacefully, no matter their race, gender or sex… and it can actually happen.