Sound Cistem review – a heady disco of trans stories

“They say it’s trans people who are obsessed with gender, but it’s cis people who are.” Featuring the unfiltered voices of young trans and non-binary people, this searing, sweaty disco is a heady exploration of identity through dance.

Ayden Brouwers and Lizzie Morris interviewed trans and non-binary people aged between 18 and 25. Distanced from the assumptions and expectations that come with being seen, the interviewees speak freely; their disembodied words are revealing, insightful and emotional. Over pumping synths and hi-hats, their audio unpacks the performativity of gender in dance, the constant awareness of how they’re perceived, and the choices they have to make in nightclubs to stay safe.

On stage, Brouwers and Morris don’t speak, they just dance. Around them are strobing lights and kaleidoscopic, computerised slides. Sometimes their movements echo the words – when people ask them invasive questions in the smoking area, they slide into downward dog; when they’re confronted by the potential of being kicked out from gendered toilets, they switch places over and again – while at other times their movements are more abstract, throwing their bodies wildly to the beat.

Fear seeps in from all corners: of attracting violent attention in straight clubs, of being denied medical treatment, of media hysteria. The descriptions of dysphoria are hard to hear, and the reality of constant transphobia sobering. But through it all, they keep going, resilience and determination in every kick, every jump. The sheer exhaustion of having to wait for external validation is palpable in their knackered limbs. Still, they dance.

Overriding it all soars a sense of joy, both in their movements and in themselves. We need more of this: trans stories told by trans performers with space for freedom and delight.

Comments are closed.