Nightclubbing @ Summerhall

Rachael Young's Nightclubbing is a performance art exploration of race, intersectionality and the dream of a radically inclusive future

Live Review by Carmen Paddock | 06 Aug 2019

Over the course of one mesmeric hour, three women transform Summerhall’s Old Lab into a radical future where one’s skin colour, presentation of womanhood, and space in this world are interrogated, celebrated, and forever changed. Nightclubbing takes two separate events – the release of Grace Jones’ iconic album Nightclubbing in 1981 and the barring of entry of three black women to a London club. The former is a definitive entry in music history; the latter one personal occurrence that is nonetheless all too recognisable. Rachael Young and her band knit them together to contextualise the daily injustices faced by people of colour, women, and the LGBTQIA community before building a truly liberated world.  

Nightclubbing occasionally narrates the events that inspired the performance, but more often operates in the performance art sphere, using literal boundaries and bonds to communicate the unseen forces acting against the performers’ bodies. The show’s understated opening gives way to grief, anger, and ultimately triumph. There is no room for shame in this new world; costumes, space, and speech literally transform as their future unfolds as if emerging from a cage or chrysalis, leaving no space for apologies or explanations. Even seeing two black women performing the constant club music underlying the action, speech, and song is quietly revolutionary considering the modern club scene’s dynamics.   

A performance art exploration of race, intersectionality, and the dream of a radically inclusive future, Nightclubbing envisions freedom by examining a multitude of interlocking oppressions,  before casting each aside with fury and love. It is a joyous and thought-provoking addition to this year’s Festival Fringe.

Nightclubbing, Summerhall (Old Lab), until 11 Aug, 3.45pm, £8-12