SLICK Exists Because a Good Party May Lead Us to a Better World

«In a good party everyone is a chosen family for the night. In a way it’s like a tiny microcosm of an ideal society.»
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SLICK’s (@slick.party) first edition was held in September 2020 at Chidori Park, Kawasaki. Photo: Toshimura (@toshimu_rar on TwitterInstagramFacebook).

SLICK (@slick.party) is a party concept that started with a rave in 2020 in an industrial area in Kawasaki. It could have been just one more rave, but it was quite the opposite: SLICK was more than just a rave, in many ways.

For most of us who were at SLICK, this rave marked another way to enjoy a party. It made us aware that having a really good time, at a party and in life, happens when we are free to be ourselves and at the same time we feel loved by those around us. This state of consciousness did not arise spontaneously, it happened because the organizers of SLICK led us to it thanks to their approach when organizing the rave.

7e, Mari Sakurai, Midori and Elin are the team behind SLICK (@slick.party). Photo: Toshimura (@toshimu_rar on TwitterInstagramFacebook).

The experienced clubbers and WAIFU founders Midori (@dolly3o3) and Elin (@elin.mc), alongside the DJs Mari Sakurai (@_marisakurai) and 7e (@7e_romanescos) teamed up to organize SLICK. They thought of a lineup that would include proposals for different tastes and generations, they chose a place that would inspire new sensations and they ensured a technical equipment that would provide the best sound. However, there was much more: SLICK made clear in a statement the open and inclusive philosophy of the party and in addition to defending this position, they took action to make it real by contributing donations to movements that support it.

The second edition of SLICK is about to be held, and tickets sold out quickly. I spoke with the organizers and together we reflected on how a better party can lead us to a better world.

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SLICK (@slick.party) first edition’s flyer and lineup. Design: IPPI (@ippi_matsutani).

Chorareii: How would you describe SLICK?

Midori: A cozy home for those who love the club scene. A place where you can be as you are or as you want to be without worrying about anything.

Elin: With SLICK we aimed at creating a space where people could feel free and also be free, with amazing music and amazing people. A space where everyone is able to express themselves freely, and where there are all kinds of people: queer, straight, drawn from different parts of the club scene.

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SLICK’s (@slick.party) attracted people from different generations and scenes. Photo: Toshimura (@toshimu_rar on TwitterInstagramFacebook).

Chorareii: What reasons made you organize SLICK? Also, how was the process that led to the rave?

Midori: Me and Elin hold WAIFU as a queer party. WAIFU has some constraints because of the kind of party it is and somehow it didn’t feel appropriate to make a WAIFU party to “just enjoy the club scene.” We wanted to have this kind of queer party, so we asked 7e and Mari Sakurai, who are always out in the underground scene in Tokyo, “Would you like to have a new queer party?” I was convinced that this team would satisfy the true clubber.

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SLICK’s (@slick.party) aims to be a party where everyone can feel free. Photo: Toshimura (@toshimu_rar on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).

Mari: As I mentioned a little in my last interview [for Chorareii’s DJ ID section], Midori invited me to think about the fact that there are almost no queer parties in Japan where you can dance with cool music, so I definitely wanted to do it.

Elin: Also Mari and I had been talking for ages about doing some kind of new party with more of an intense or Berlin-style vibe. All these things came together and we started doing the party.

In the aforementioned interview with Mari Sakurai for Chorareii’s column DJ ID, when asked about SLICK, she shared this thought: “Every party is held with the desire to have a ‘fun party,’ but in order to make people feel that, what exactly can we do other than playing good music?” What did SLICK do in this regard?

Elin: What is a good party? Obviously the music has to be good but as Mari said that’s not enough. For me a party has to be safe, but not too safe, or rather it needs to be safe in certain directions but with the possibility of chaos and danger, but only the good kind. You don’t want people spontaneously fighting but it would be ok for them to be spontaneously fucking! [laughs].

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«In a good party everyone is a chosen family for the night.» Photo: Toshimura (@toshimu_rar on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).

In a good party everyone is a chosen family for the night. That means no one is left out and no one is insulted or pushed aside. In a way it’s like a tiny microcosm of an ideal society. I think that’s a key feeling. 

To make it happen we worked hard on our statement —antiharassment, sex-positive, queer, antiracist— and made it clear the party isn’t about money by setting ticket prices as low as we could given the costs. We also tried to show this by donating the money left after we paid everyone (including ourselves).

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Mari Sakurai performing at SLICK’s (@slick.party). Photo: Toshimura (@toshimu_rar on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).

Midori: I think the best party has good sound, there are no bad vibes between people who know good sound! Other big commitment for us is the ticket price. We want to pay a sufficient fee to the performers, for the construction gang, and staff including ourselves. 

The price is much lower than what we would like to request. That’s because the customers we want to come to SLICK are not those who can buy expensive tickets without question, but those who are used to going to cheap underground parties. That’s why we reduced the ticket price to the minimum possible.

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«There are no bad vibes between people who know good sound!» Photo: Toshimura (@toshimu_rar on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).

Still, it may seem expensive to the clubber, but outdoor parties have to assemble stages and sound from scratch, which is very expensive. I think that a good party is measured by the “quality” of the people that come. Therefore, I think that it’s most necessary to set up to attract “quality attendees.”

Mari: Certainly, we are very conscious of the price of the entrance, and every time the four of us have talked about the appropriate price carefully! The price of the ticket is actually quite important, and it can completely change the number of attendees. Therefore, we made the decision while thinking about what kind of people we want to come to the party.

Also, by putting up a statement we can share the mindset of the party we want to create. The people who come also have a role to maintain safety so that harassment and discrimination do not occur. 

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«By putting up a statement we can share the mindset of the party we want to create.» Photo: Toshimura (@toshimu_rar on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).

Let’s talk about SLICKS’s statement in detail. Please tell me about it, its content and its importance! [SLICK’s full statement is included at the end of this article].

Elin: It was very very rare to see statements like this at parties in Japan before we started doing WAIFU, which has been 2 years ago or so now. The scene has changed a lot since then and it’s become much more common for parties to post anti harassment policies.

I think it’s really important, not just because it sets expectations for what is out of line in the space (and makes it easier to deal with situations where someone is not respecting boundaries), but also because it positions people to be aware of their behavior, so I feel like in settings where these kind of policies are explicitly posted the kinds of situations they’re meant to address often just don’t arise in the first place. That, at least, is the hope. 

More importantly, for creating a (chosen family) community feeling, it lets people know what kind of space it’s going to be and how the organizers think.

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7e performing at SLICK’s (@slick.party). Photo: Toshimura (@toshimu_rar on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).

To be true to that statement, SLICK donated part of the ticket money to different causes, and you also asked for donations on site. Could you tell me more about this?

Midori: The last SLICK happened during a moment where the Black Lives Matter movement was very active. We also saw hard news about black women and black trans women who are particularly vulnerable among black people. At the same time, we were also distressed by the news that trans women being held in the Immigration Bureau under Corona were being treated unfairly. We felt we had to do something. 

«We wanted to pay a sufficient fee to the performers, for the construction gang, and staff including ourselves.» Photo: Toshimura (@toshimu_rar on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).

We wanted to donate as much as we could. Some performers asked us to donate all their fees. Fortunately we were able to donate a total of over 150,000 yen to the following three organization:  Free Ushiku, an organization that protects the human rights of foreigners detained by immigration; R.E.S.I.S.T., an organization that supports black women after their release from prison; and Marsha P. Johnson Institute. an organization that supports black transgender women.

At the next SLICK, we would like to use the proceeds to support the venue. It’s still a secret, so I can’t tell you clearly, but the venue is a place that has historically been very important. As the place needs a lot of maintenance and work, we would like to donate a portion of this SLICK revenue to help fix up the place.

Elin: Also, this year we will make a donation to Free Ushiku again. Worrying news has emerged recently about immigration law in Japan and we want to help change the situation.

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After SLICK (@slick.party), many parties started to include statements. Photo: Toshimura (@toshimu_rar on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).

Let’s talk about the lineup. What makes an artist suitable to be part of SLICK?

Mari: We care not only about the sound, but also about what kind of thoughts and behaviors the artists we want to book have. Also, what kind of effect the person will have on the party. For example, will this artist dance in front of the booth after her or his turn? Will this person enjoy talking to customers and having a drink? Will this artist listen to the sound quietly and focused in the corner of the dancefloor?

We try to imagine if the artists will enjoy the party itself even when not playing. Everyone in the location will make the party, so we are conscious of not only the “sound” of the artist, but also the way they play and the vibe they have. DJs and live performances are done by real people, not AI or robots, so it goes without saying that the “sound” must be cool, but I think it’s very important what kind of person the artist is.

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SLICK (@slick.party) coming edition’s flyer and lineup. Design: IPPI (@ippi_matsutani).

I want to remember now SLICK’s first edition. How was it for you?

7e: We wanted to organize a rave outdoors while there were almost no summer events due to the corona situation. It was a party that was driven by an initial impulse, the speed from the idea to the realization was extremely fast! I think it wouldn’t have been possible without this team.

Midori: We chose the first lineup because we wanted to give it an edgy feel. Actually, there were some DJs who I listened to for the first time, but only those who listened to the mixed sound source at the recommendation of 7e and Mari and unanimously selected all four. Actually, on that day, I was the first to organize outdoors, and I couldn’t enjoy it because I was nervous, so I would like to enjoy it with a little more time next time.

Elin: It was magical, it was a wonderful night (afternoon, morning).

Mari: I felt that my place was in SLICK. I felt very free and liberated, and I was full of love for the people who were there!

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«We try to imagine if the artists will enjoy the party itself even when not playing.» Photo: Toshimura (@toshimu_rar on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).

The venue that you chose, Chidori Park in Kawasaki, was famous before? I have the feeling that after SLICK, a lot of other raves were held there …

Midori: I heard on social media that local area people were doing small-scale illegal raves there. I went to see the place with the members and we all loved it. We decided on the spot that this was definitely the place. After that, we searched all over to get the official permissions. It came to be used in big events, and I’m proud that we could have contributed a little to the club culture in the times of coronavirus. By the way, the person who gave me the first information on social media was invited to SLICK to come and visit us.

How was SLICK’s audience last year?

Midori: There were various age groups, from Gen Z people of the same generation as my child to veteran ravers of the same generation as me, but there were also many generations of queer people who came. I felt that we achieved what we had in mind.

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«I felt very free and liberated, and I was full of love for the people who were there!» says Mari Sakurai. Photo: Toshimura (@toshimu_rar on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).

Elin: One of our goals was to bring different parts of the scene together. The Tokyo scene can be a little fragmented; at this moment, there are parties for people in their early 20s with fast techno, parties for people in their 40s where the music is more old school vibes, and not much overlap between those groups … One thing we wanted to do was book DJs from various parts of the scene so everyone could come together. This was a success and a lot of people told us how happy that made them. I feel like this is something you see a lot more overseas and it was wonderful to get to make that kind of communication happen, or start to happen, here. Also our organizer group itself contains one person in their 20s, one in their 30s, one in their 40s and one in their 50s, so we also cover the whole scene! Lol

Mari: It was fun to see a mixture of people of all ages, both older and younger than me. I go to many outdoor parties in Japan, but I haven’t seen the balance of SLICK attendees at other parties. The vibe was peaceful and positive. Since it was my first time to organize an outdoor party, I had a lot of worries about whether there would be any problems and whether the limited number of toilets could be kept clean from beginning to end, but the manners of the people were very good. Nothing I was worried about happened. I appreciated it very much.

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«SLICK (@slick.party) wouldn’t have been possible without this team» says 7e. Photo: Toshimura (@toshimu_rar on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).

Do you have the feeling that SLICK made a difference in the Japanese raving or party scene?

Midori: I’m glad that Gen Z people who came to SLICK have started parties with statements at Spread, Forestlimit, Mitsuki, etc.

What learnings and feedback did you get from the first edition? I don’t want you to spoil any surprise but … will this second edition be different in any way? We know that the venue is different!

7e: Since the previous theme was “RAVE”, it was edgy and based on hard dance music overall, but this time we have made the lineup so that you can feel the variety of dance music as a story throughout the night. It’s an ambitious lineup that will make people feel freshness and euphoria while having some hard moments and dope time! [laughs]

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«One of our goals was to bring different parts of the scene together.» Photo: Toshimura (@toshimu_rar on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).

Midori: Last time, it was too edgy! [laughs]. There was a part where the veteran ravers didn’t feel very comfortable. The location this year it’s a very small and lovely place, so we will lower the BPM a little more overall than the last time. Besides, this year we are inviting a wonderful VJ from Osaka. In this edition, it should be a space where you can enjoy not only the sound but also the visual sense.

Mari: We valued the lovely vibe from last edition’s venue, but this time you should be able to enjoy a more dreamlike space while maintaining the SLICK character! The sound of the DJs will make it more possible to dance ceaselessly than the hard and edgy feeling from last time, the vibe is a little softer than last time.

Elin: Speaking of nonsonic input, there will also be a performance by Choco Erika! It will be on the sex-positive side of SLICK. We are super excited about it!

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«It was magical, it was a wonderful night (afternoon, morning)» says Elin. Photo: Toshimura (@toshimu_rar on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).

Because of all the reasons you already explained, SLICK feels more than a party. Why should parties be more than parties?

Midori: I think club culture is the origin of culture. I think that culture is very important not only for so-called party elements such as music, art and fashion, but also for all internal parts such as thought and philosophy. For those of us who want to make SLICK the birthplace of a new culture, it’s natural that ideas and ways of thought are important.

Elin: Spaces build families and communities. Everyone who was at the first SLICK is part of a family that only existed, in that form, on that day; this is something we will all carry with us going forward. Every party is like this, just like every space: they all have the potential to change us, our communities, and our futures. In this sense, every party is more than a party. We are just so happy as organizers that the space we were able to make on the day has been so good and so transformative for so many people.

We, the organizers of this rave, are aiming at a party where people of any gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age and abledness can feel safe and free: we reject homophobia, transphobia, racism, ageism, and ableism. The party is a queer, antiracist space. In this party all people will be respected. Everyone with an open mind and who wants a space to feel and act freely is welcome. The party is open to all people who are willing to approach others with respect and a free and open spirit, regardless of gender / sexuality / ethnicity / age / abledness. We aim to create a space where all people can feel happy, open and free. We welcome everyone who is supportive of transgender and queer people and people of various sexualities, regardless of their own gender and sexuality. However, anyone exhibiting any form of misogynist, transphobic, homophobic, racist or other bad behavior will immediately be kicked out of this party. But: this is a sex-positive party where sexual activity and approaches are welcome!!! Everyone please love each other!!!! The profits from the party will be donated to organizations active in the BLM movement and in the support of trans people of color.

SLICK’s First Edition Statement

Follow SLICK on Instagram and Twitter

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