Time to fix your mug… Dress and Dance returns!

We love a beat face. ‘Beat’ as in make-up, not as in black eyes, bruises and broken noses!

After last year’s successful first run, Dress and Dance is back! This local initiative allows queer party people from Amsterdam and beyond to dress up and do their make-up in a safe(r) space at the Reguliersdwarsstraat, a street famous for its many queer bars and clubs.

WINGS sat down with Stemin, spokesperson for Dress and Dance, to find out more!

Photography by Mimi van Amerongen

Stemin, what is Dress and Dance?

“Dress and Dance is an initiative organized by the queer community for the queer community in Amsterdam. It takes place at hair salon Who Cares (Reguliersdwarsstraat 54). Dress and Dance allows you to put on make-up and slip into your party outfit before going out on Saturday nights. We have a security guard at the door, and you can dress up from 22.00 to 00.30. Our guests can leave their belongings at the salon while partying, and dress down and pick up their stuff until 5.30. Entrance is free of charge to anyone from the LGBTQ+ community.”

You promote Dress and Dance as a safe(r) space. Did you receive a lot of signals from the queer community that this initiative was needed?

“Unfortunately, yes! Crimes against queer individuals have increased, and numbers are still rising. People who visibly stand out have to deal with homophobia, transphobia and other forms of hatred. Our initiative makes it possible to dress up however you like without having to deal with unwanted reactions on the streets. We’re trying to find a more permanent solution with the city, taxi drivers and the police. In the meantime, people can use our space to get ready.
Dress and Dance is not just about putting on make-up and dressing up. It’s about building community, and exchanging ideas and experiences. I strongly believe in leading by example, that’s why I dress up at the salon every Saturday night as well, even though I live close by.”

You talked about ‘exchanging experiences’, is there a particular story from one of your guests that has touched you?

“There’s a person who regularly joins us from outside of Amsterdam. They’re gender bender and like to wear a lot of make-up. Without Dress and Dance, they would have to take the train in full outfit which isn’t safe for them. This person really appreciates our space. Stories like that encourage us to keep going with this project.”

Is there any entertainment at the salon to get you in the right mood for a night of partying?

“There are always one or two drag queens present to welcome you and to show you around the salon. Starting this year, we will have a DJ. Every now and then, we connect Dress and Dance to special events like Pride, Amsterdam Dance Event and Halloween, and we organize theme nights. We also try to collaborate with bars and clubs. (Bar) Soho for example is nice enough to invite our guests to a free shot.”

The new season of Dress and Dance runs for 12 weeks and starts on Saturday, June 1st. Follow Dress and Dance on Instagram @dress.dance.amsterdam and check out their FAQ for all your burning questions. Follow Stemin’s personal Instagram @steminmusic while you’re at it.