“You need the human touch and the human connection, seeing people and dancing is such an important thing.” Jono begins. For years now Jono has been one half of the team behind one of Melbourne’s banging queer parties.

“I’ve been with my partner Carlos for 15 years, and we started Barba five years ago. It all started with us throwing parties in our house, bringing people together. We always wanted to be really good hosts, maybe that comes from being Colombian? I don’t know

“Even though its clearly not a house party anymore, you still feel like you know everyone, and the sense of community is still there.”

With the vibe of an intimate house party still central to what Barba is so much about, it may come as no surprise that party’s thrown at Melbourne’s Sub Club, still remain among Jono’s most treasured memories.

“Late last year, we had a residency we were doing there. I just remember looking around and seeing everyone breaking free and thinking that I’d never seen people expressing themselves so much and being so comfortable.”

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 For those not in the know, the venue itself is the very definition of Melbourne. Tucked down an inner city graffiti covered laneway you enter the subterranean space via a long flight of stairs, Sub Club for years has been a haven for freaks, loved for its alternative vibe.

“The music was heavy techno, it was 6am and the dance floor was packed” Jono continues “Barba is where you get to see people who are not from your bubble. That’s important, because if your always in your bubble it can be nice but you’re not learning from other people, it’s not challenging you enough.”

Hailing from Mackay in North Queensland, Fraser Lockman – otherwise known as Grimmer – had their life changed when they stumbled upon Barba.

“I moved to Melbourne to become immersed in more queer culture because I’m from Queensland, and Barba was exactly what I was looking for. For people like myself who are artists, Barba is the perfect little temple.

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 “I started DJing with Barba about a year ago. I met Jono and Carlos and they have really encouraged me, but it was something I was always inclined to. The type of music I play is a mixture between trashy pop and hardcore industrial techno, which is perfect for Barba” Grimmer tells Star Observer. “People are really up for whatever, you can really get experimental and throw the vibe around a million different places. People like to be taken on that ride and crowd is always so supportive.”

With Melbourne’s party scene well and truly on ice Jono and Carlos recently turned their energy and recourses toward the community once more. In partnership with Thorne Harbour they have launched the Stay Homo campaign, which brings together a list of free community resources as Jono explains.

“The dance floor is gone, but we still need to bring people together somehow. Stay Homo is not about staying home, it’s about staying queer and fabulous, it’s about sharing that message. You have to reach out and connect with friends, and that it’s important to know that it’s ok to not be ok.”

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