The Death of Glitter: Cape Town’s Underground Queer Club Scene
Hope Street is quiet for a Saturday night in Cape Town. An old, nondescript building with sports-betting advertisements in the windows isn’t where one expects to find queer kids hanging out. But there they are, some in leather, some in drag, smoking cigarettes and standing in a queue that curls out the door and around the corner, waiting to get into a party called Death of Glitter (DOG).
Inside, there are two dancefloors. "CONSUME" is downstairs. Slot machines have been moved to make room for a small, basement-style rave. The DJ balances a crown of candles on their head; black wax drips down their bare chest as they dance. Upstairs is "KISS." This DJ, the party’s founder, is changing from a rhinestone-bedecked wedding gown into a pair of hip-high latex boots. The music is shiny, poppy, and erratic. People are laying out on pool tables and ashing rollies onto stained red felt. One of the performers is washing fake blood off their body in the sink. The phrase "SAY UR GAYERS" is written in red lipstick on the mirror. Votive candles illuminate kids wearing nothing but glitter. They are cutting lines of cocaine with a Smart Shopper card on the toilet seat.
There's someone statuesque, encrusted head to toe in silver paint. Some kids dressed in white lace lingerie, bridal veils, and sunglasses are vogueing. Someone is dressed as Jesus with pearl-embroidered white robes and a crown of thorns painted gold. Someone is pulling their boyfriend on a leash. "Is it Ash Wednesday or is that just dirt on your face?” Kids wear fishnet over their faces and rosaries on their heads.
By two in the morning, half the people in the club have shed their clothes. Lipstick smears. Platform heels crunch broken glass bottles. It’s hard to breathe on the dance floor. Kids rolling on MDMA close their eyes and get intimate with whomever’s close. There’s kissing and biting and rubbing up against one another. It’s hard to feel sober even if you are, so enveloped is the crowd in the slippy, trippy, drippy fantasy they’ve created.