The Many Moods of Juliana Huxtable

‘Berlin’s Juliana Huxtable returns to Paragon’s mezzanine…,’ wrote a blurb on Resident Advisor.

This is probably the oofteenth time I’ve seen the doll “play.” But let’s be honest, who’s counting? Anyway, she was in New York City from Berlin to play two parties and while I had to be up inappropriately early the next morning for housing court—I JUST HAD TO BE THERE!—Nothing will ever stand in my way of losing myself or from receiving spiritualistic messages from her. Resident Advisor is wrong: Juliana Huxtable is a New Yorker returning to New York. Plus, I was invited by a friend who works the bar which means I had the opportunity to take in the moment within 6 feet of the legendary purveyor in the infamous “mezzanine.”

2015 was the year for identity and transgressive performance. Everything felt like an institutional edging of Identity politics and its performative diaphanous blanket wrapping every(one) victim in its emergence. It was the first year I witnessed Juliana Huxtable in real life. Art Basel Miami 2015. She was a baby tranny sitting silently on a panel entitled “Transgender In the Mainstream,” in conversation with Gordon Hall and Kimberly Drew, David J Getsy, moderated by William J. Simmons. She sat with her legs crossed, arms folded and smiled with an impish glee the entire one hour and seven minutes of the redundant conversation because she, like every trans or gender-variant attendee was profoundly confused when the moderator evoked a performative “moment of silence” for Transgender Day of Remembrance (which was nationally honored slash celebrated weeks before the winter panel???). Juliana barely spoke during most of the panel that evening. Her presence was admired enough that when she decided to speak, everyone in the room paid attention and listened closely.

Juliana’s identity and performances are (will always be) an exception. Without an identity category, she builds sanctuaries for society’s outliers and marvelous misfits. Her reputation and engendered positionality represents the pinnacle of a flutter pulse and granted access to the soigne multi-hyphenate trans denizen-class to pollinate the dance floor and to destroy the archives. She reminds us that there is no future of the rave space or art (re)production without us, if we—if I—can not locate myself in its history.

(Escape) Paragon

I arrived to Paragon early because Juliana has the keen ability to draw unexplainably interesting and large crowds. Usually, the kinds of the crowds that possess some sort of liberal arts education and a nostalgic pervasiveness that is often reminiscent of ‘old new york’ (no shade). But these girls are the kinds of ravers that are slightly older and only show their passports as IDs. The kinds of ravers that are still talking about important events that happened in 2015 (lol). Half of the line is drenched in Solomon hiking sneakers, some kind of moveable spandex fabric, like biker shorts or Yohji Yamamoto and the other half: descended upon us in Deconstructed, post-apocalyptic utilitarianism or Gogo Graham. Oh, and tall Boots! The line represents everyone’s relationship to the parasocialite. One half of the line exhibits her iconic repertoire as a performance and visual artist in the New York academic/ art-world and the other: a reputable trans nightlife deejay.

“Why are you here? Are you here often?” I asked a stranger while waiting in line to enter Paragon. “I am here for Juliana Huxtable? Do you know her? I was supposed to see her in LA but didn’t make it,” they replied. “Oh Interesting,” I replied. I ran inside, looking for friends with faith, praying I didn’t miss her set. I screamed at a friend working the bar, we took a shot or two and I headed toward the floor. The floor is packed. I slide into the front and immediately enter a cesspool of all of the community’s hottest trannies. We are all standing before the decks but beneath the mezzanine, oozing in sweat and commotion. The girls are closing their eyes and dancing lucidly to the beat. But, I am not feeling it, so I decide to escape the floor and head to the “green room” for safety and, let’s be honest: To take more speed!

I receive the text ‘WYA? SHE’S ABOUT TO TEAR!!’ Naturally, I decide to have a moment alone before the highly anticipated cross-pollination and a long night of endless meaningful hyper-social engagements. I rush back out but the vibe is still the same: immensely hot and claustrophobic? On an addictive substance but without its aphrodisiac powers. The collective buzz is missing, there’s nothing illegal happening; I don’t feel like a co-conspirator!

In disbelief, I decide to move closer to the music. I go upstairs and stand right behind the booth in hope and fear of a portal opening and taking us out of our turbulence.


When I finally received the discreet location for Merge, I was triggered. A friend had sent the address of the formerly known, Chaos Computer: an arts collective and DIY community performance space, now defunct, that had been squatting in a warehouse on the water at the edge of Williamsburg. CC was the last of its kind. Venues of this genre, without rules or security, don’t exist as much anymore. I smoked an American Spirit on my walk over.

When we moved past the door, it was all happening! It was dark enough that I didn’t have to perform an identity position. No one wants to be what, or be where, they are. The Underground doesn’t particularly equate to the counterculture or political left. Rave is a post-socialist activity. Raving is spectatorship is performance is resistance to presence. The line for the bathrooms was so long it intersected with the floor. The bar was distressed and the community-staff were on the ground consoling someone who appeared dehydrated as if they were overwhelmed by too many uncontrolled substances. I was overcome by the collective excitement and organized chaos that I forgot to take care of my own desires and needs. Then there was an outburst of joyful clapping and uproarious whistling that reminded me that I was a tweaker chasing the night for a reason.

Juliana had woken up and it showed! She was changing the track every 45 seconds of her set making it impossible to become too attached to a rhythm. Gleefully staring into the crowd and occasionally mouthing “P E R I O D,” as if she was casting a spell on us. Upfront, standing before the decks were all of my favorite ravens: Ley, Zora, Geoff, McKenzie Wark, J, Adriel, Will, and the parasocial muscle gays with their tank-tops tightly tucked behind their oversized JNCOs. They were moaning while flagging their chinese fans as if they were trying to distill the precipitation created from the evaporated heat of the building into fog.

The struggle between intelligent techno and hardcore is always a bitter contest, but Juliana Huxtable never fails to sedate the dance-floor into a twilight zone malaise. She made it hard to retain a critical self-conscious analysis. Suddenly, I was politically neutral. All of my problems had disappeared until it was time to do my final bump. I was rolling in a corner near the exit when I saw small beams of light peeking through the cracks of the abandoned building. There were only a few hours left in the night-morning-day until the hard truth that I could potentially become unhoused would hit me. At that moment, I was not concerned about stable housing or the conditions of how to maintain it. The desire to live felt like a political decision. When I glanced into the eyes of the strangers standing beside me I was conditioned with instability, with trespassing in the dormant space, with dealing with the cops, with looking out for each other. We were on the other side. We were together non-linear.