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How Pantless Partying in Victoria Supports HIV/HepC Poz Youth

In the capital city of British Columbia there’s a movement going on. It’s a political, cultural and very social kind of movement. It’s inclusive of all body types, gender expressions and ways to dress up (or down.) This is an inclusive, body positive, queer-centric party that takes a stand for youth living with HIV and hepatitis-C.

Pants Off Dance Off accomplishes all of this with a righteous groove. This is a party that encourages everyone attending to take off their pants.  Underwear party is the name of the game, but don’t be afraid. This kind of environment will support whatever you want to wear: tutus, leggings, one-piece fruit costumes, or even kink gear.

It began in April 2016 as a fundraiser for a symposium called Youth Unleashing Power (YUP). YUP is run by and for HIV or HepC positive youth aged 18 to 32. YUP is Canada’s first and only national peer-led meeting for positive folks. It provides a space for positive youth to engage in community healing and build networks for political organizing.

PODO’S inaugural night was hosted in Victoria’s own Lucky Bar, raising a total of $575. As a result, PODO helps positive youth from across the country afford to attend YUP. Since then the event has raised just under $5,000 for HIV/HepC positive youth in Canada. Now at the historic Copper Owl, it’s a nightlife favourite for Victoria’s queer and house music community. At the moment, it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down.

Photo: Amus Productions Inc.

Partying with a purpose

PODO takes it’s inspiration from Jessica Lynn Whitbread’s No Pants No Problem (NPNP.) These parties, started by Whitbread after her HIV diagnosis, were her way of creating a space where she could flirt and feel good about her body. Through the bridges she built a space that was inclusive. Whitbread merged art and activism in a unique space to push boundaries around how communities can be built collectively.

As an homage to NPNP, PODO is another way for building community and bringing people together. PODO uses the spirit of NPNP as a social art project giving opportunity to question what kind of spaces we want to hold for each other, and how we want to relate to each other. All of this magic come together through the help of a collective; The PLUR Collective.

The PLUR Collective is a response to a lack of queer party spaces in Victoria. They choose to acknowledge the history of activism within the dance community and create inclusive spaces. To this end they make a meeting space at the intersections of social service delivery, art, radical politics, and the rave. According to The PLUR Collective, these events are an opportunity to acknowledge the roots of dance music culture.

By recognizing these genres and making spaces to include the communities involved, The PLUR Collective aims to make Victoria’s nightlife more inclusive, compassionate and safe. In the same fashion, they make a space where queer, trans, non-binary and femme-folks can shake their booties and dance up storms.

Photo: Eric Clark Photography

Would you ever party without pants? What if it was for a good cause? Let us know on Twitter, @DanceMusicNW!

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