Zine Scene: No One Mag

For this edition of our Zine Scene series, we have an international dispatch from No One Mag, a queer dance publication based in Amsterdam but with a global focus.

Why did a print publication seem like the best format to share your exploration of queer dance cultures around the world?

No One Magazine is intentionally a print publication for two reasons: its physical presence and its intentional nature.

Regarding print’s physical presence: As two design professionals who work primarily in the digital space, we have first-hand experience with the fleeting nature of digital content, which nowadays is entrapped between algorithmic discovery and varying economic incentives.

Being a physical artefact of modern queer history (in the context of nightlife), No One hopes to help liberate us from modern digital chokeholds, taking up physical space and creating a tangible platform for queer stories of today.

Regarding print’s intentional nature: From the cover, No One Magazine has stickers which represent its featured collectives and communities, but this connection only reveals itself when a reader actively flips through and engages with the issue’s stories.

Unlike Instagram Reels or TikTok videos, our stories aren’t written to catch people’s attention in the first seconds but are created to take readers on an intentional journey about what’s being told. In short, we hope our physical medium makes mental space for deliberate connection.

How healthy is the Queer events scene in Amsterdam, what change needs to happen?

Before we share this, it’s important to emphasize that our observations of the scene only reflect our personal experiences and our experiences with writing this magazine. Our thoughts are by no means comprehensive, nor entirely representative. With that said, there are two observations we’d like to share about this city’s queer scene:

Firstly, Amsterdam’s underground queer nightlife is diverse in expression, concepts, music, space, and certainly crowds. From illegal raves and trans-led programs to body-inclusive parties and sober events, Amsterdam has a wide range of experiences, catering to its many types of people.

Secondly, Amsterdam’s queer collectives, communities, and individuals understand its intertwined relationship with the politics of the day, both on and off the dance floor. Being part of nightlife here doesn’t just mean dancing together. It also means mobilizing for Palestine, coming together to mourn the loss of trans lives during the Transgender Day of Remembrance, crafting safety guidelines and protocols to protect artists and partygoers, fighting against bureaucracy to protect queer spaces, and so much more.

Regarding changes that need to happen: there are many. During our magazine’s recent launch event at Club RAUM, we hosted a panel titled “Building Tomorrow on our Queer Dance Floor” with nightlife experts and contributors; one of the key takeaways was the importance of collaboration between different constituents of the night.

From diverse communities to the municipality, if different concepts and expertise come together to fight the same fights for those who are most marginalized, (night)life at large can benefit.

No-one mag

What niche do you see No One Mag filling in Amsterdam’s zine scene?

No One Magazine seeks to fill the intersection between historical archives and queer nightlife. In doing so, we hope to preserve and dimensionalize conversations around nightlife beyond the dominant narratives of hedonism and escapism.

Five key topics that we cover in each issue of No One Magazine are music, arts, and their intersection, self-expression and aesthetics, venues, spaces and ambience, physical and mental health and nighttime politics and policies.

Each issue of No One focuses on Queer dancing in a particular city. How did you come up with the selection criteria that you use to choose which cities to feature?

One of No One’s key beliefs is that queer wisdom exists beyond the surface and the West. As a result, we seek to bring a global perspective to stories about queer dance culture. That said, we also recognize that current stories about the scenes in some Western countries aren’t always representative of the entire spectrum of queerness. In those cases, we aim to counter mainstream narratives about these places with stories that are less covered or have been misconstrued.

Although we’re eager to cover as many places as possible, we use three considerations to guide our decision:

Feasibility: With a two-person core team, we prioritize locations where travel is feasible, within our means, and where we have connections to help us navigate the local scene.

Diversity: Given feasibility, we want to cover places less discussed in popular media, in English and/or local languages; places that provide safer havens for queer individuals from neighbouring, more conservative regions.

Dimensionality: When covering less discussed places isn’t feasible, we seek to offer multiple perspectives that might affirm or challenge a city’s dominant narrative about queerness to represent its many facets.

Did you have a specific look or visual language in mind for the zine from the start? Or did you develop its style as you put it together?

Great question! Yes, we had a comprehensive brand and visual identity deck developed before we reached out to all featured collectives and individuals. We felt like having our concept articulated clearly was important to having interviewees feel more comfortable sharing their stories with such a new publication.

Our brand ethos is built on two pillars: community and individuality, building connections without generalizing or erasing others’ uniqueness. No One tells stories of the few in the context of their communities that support and make them possible. Like beats come together to form a track, people dance together to make a party, and parties connect together to make a scene. Our magazine is called No One because our brand idea is:

“We’re no one without each other,
And none of us is like another.”

Our visual identity is built around the world of party stickers; artefacts often found at (queer) parties. These stickers are placed over attendees’ smartphone cameras to discourage capturing the party; to respect others’ privacy and to encourage the notion of living in the moment. These stickers help create a feeling of freedom, giving queer folks a sense of comfort to express themselves in these spaces.

Each sticker represents a collective or initiative’s concept and stories, and when seen together, they create a glimpse of the scene, at the time of our magazine’s production. The stickers on each of our covers are also applied by hand and always in a different order—going back to our brand ethos.

What can readers expect to find in your next issue?

We can’t reveal too much just yet, but we can say that No One is likely to be visiting somewhere in Asia next.

Any other zines you’re into at the moment?

Unter: Rave Posters Volume 1 & 2 (from 2015-2020 and 2021-2023), Smos & Baby Bee: Party Flyers And More. Reminiscences Of A Unique Era In Belgian Nightlife Culture. (1993–2010) and Roots to Fruits.

Do you have any upcoming events in the pipeline?

We are in discussion with a bookshop in Amsterdam about organising a launch follow-up event focusing on the role of archiving queer culture in print. Additionally, we are in the process of applying for funding with an NGO in Prishtina, Kosovo, to participate in an upcoming queer exhibition’s public program.

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