Spanning Belfast, Dublin and London, Room for Rebellion is a political party collective making waves across the UK’s dancefloors. Campaigning for the reproductive rights of women of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, R4R’s club nights raise money for the Abortion Support Network, an organisation committed to providing support for women in accessing safe and legal abortion services in England. With the likes of Saoirse, ELLLL and Peach all featuring in previous line-ups, fun and forward-thinking electronic music has provided the perfect soundtrack in these spaces of solidarity. Ahead of their upcoming party this Friday at The Yard in Hackney Wick, we caught up with R4R founder Isis O’Regan to find out a little more about the project and the political conversations it hopes to inspire.
Can you tell us a bit about the origins of Room for Rebellion? When did you first start throwing parties?
The inception of Room for Rebellion stems from my involvement with the London Irish Abortion Rights group. Inspired by the waves they were making here & at home I wanted to help and dance floors are the medium I knew I could work with.
The first instalment was back in last February at Rye Wax and was mirrored in Wig Wam, Dublin - both have amazing basements feels. The second in the series were synchronised in Belfast & London. The event this Friday is a solo night before a triple threat in February next year when we go in with Dublin, Belfast and London.
Who is on the Room for Rebellion team?
A fucking incredible, powerful, inspiring and talented bunch. There's Jess Brien and Anna Cafolla who head up the Belfast night, Hollie Boston with myself in London and Cait Fahey & Emma Campbell in Dublin. Shout out to Rachel Botha who was my woman on the ground for the first Dub but is off travelling South America right now!
Got to shout out all the incredible DJs who have played too - Saoirse, Shanti Celeste, ELLLL, Peach, Jay D, Rory Bowens, Madison Moore, Marion Hawkes, re:ni, Dream Cycles, Cailin and H O'Dea. Eclair Fifi, anu & LORA are on deck duty this Friday with us R4R girls warming up.
Can you tell us a bit about the project’s cause eg. the ethos behind your parties, the organisations you are supporting etc?
Room for Rebellion believes it is time to remove the restraints of the church and the patriarchy from our bodies, and bring vital healthcare home.
We want our sisters to know we stand with them in solidarity.
All proceeds from the night go to the incredible Abortion Support Network who help women from Ireland, N.Ireland & Isle of Man gain access to safe abortion care here in mainland UK.
We also stand with the Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment and our first Dublin night was fundraising towards them too.
What types of support have you garnered from the worldwide community? Have you encountered any resistance?
I've had a couple of noses turned up at the idea of "partying for abortions". They've obviously missed the point completely. Honestly, in London there's not been much resistance but in Belfast it's a whole different story for Jess and Anna when they're sourcing venues. It's more of a contentious issue in N. Ireland due to the direct impact of the DUP.
How important is it that parties/clubs are used as spaces of political action? What kind of conversations do you hope to encourage in these spaces?
Dance floors are such an integral part of community building and bringing politics into such a space isn't a new idea. Look at Underground Resistance, Discwoman, Technofeminism, Siren... all perfect examples of engaging audiences with incredibly important messages whilst creating safe spaces.
So many people have approached me in shock & disbelief that it is happening right now, here in the U.K. I guess education is the starting point for us and from there opening the discussions surrounding abortion and women's rights. There's so much shame placed on women and the reality is: women aren't trusted and we're restrained by the (patriarchal) law, which is actually a violation of Human Rights. I'm fed up of the misogynistic language used in debates. The harassment anti-choice groups inflict on women on their way to a clinic. It's a difficult conversation to open as it's a heavy topic but can you really imagine being one of the eleven women a day travelling to the UK for an abortion? And that's the easy question. Women are constantly being betrayed by the justice system, put through distressing trials and receiving prison sentences, and needlessly dying when their right to choice is removed. We recently commemorated Savita Halappanavar's five year death anniversary. Savita died in my local hospital in Galway after being refused a much needed termination to a non-viable foetus. Are you really ok with women's bodies being used merely as a vessel?
What can we expect from your upcoming party - the “third instalment of angry dancing” - on the 10th?
Stomping, shaking, shuffling.
Also, if anyone wants to come as a human placard & write slogans allllll over their body I am so down for that.
What’s next on the cards for Room for Rebellion? Are there any other areas you hope to expand to?
Going to keep my cards to my chest on this one!
How do you hope future generations would talk about Room For Rebellion?
Damn, that'd be amazing if future generations will be talking about Room for Rebellion. This year is going to massive for Irish democracy with seven referenda's on the cards so I just want people to feel engaged, empowered and ready to tackle the patriarchy.
Words: Georgia Tobin
Artwork: Alex McCullough