A queer event Sissy Maiden Voyage at Thornbury’s newest live music venue Cafe Gummo was interrupted by noise complaints from some neighbours and even threats to get the police and council involved.

The event that featured DJs, performers and “an intimate COVIDsafe crowd capped at 50” took place a day after Melbourne’s five-day snap lockdown.

In a long post, the venue clarified that it did indeed have a license to play amplified music in the courtyard until 11pm and this was the first time they were making use of that license. They denied that music was being played in the alleyway or off premises.

“After neighbors approached us the first time that the subwoofer was too much we turned it off right away and turned the general volume down. Unfortunately there must have been a miscommunication on our end with one of the DJs cause once they started their set we realised the volume got turned up again (the subwoofer was still turned off tho),” said the post on Facebook.

“We apologise for that – the neighbors did reach out again and we then decided to actually move the whole setting, all the DJ gear, inside the building to continue the party in there,” they said.

The venue said that it was a community-minded space for whom happy neighbours were important. “Please always approach us if you have any issues, we’ll always try to do our best to find a solution, as we did yesterday! We’d only appreciate if you would not threaten us with police and council right away the first time you come over – We hope you know now that you can talk to us without making threats and we will listen and do our best.””

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 DJ Mel Marlow, one of the DJs at the event, confirmed the venue’s statement. The event had started off around 6 pm with some background music while the equipment was being set up.

“The energy amongst the staff and performers was electric.  Everyone was ecstatic to have survived yet another lockdown. At  the request of one of the venue owner, Lilly, we turned the music down to ensure it wasnt causing issues to the neighbours during the work day,” said DJ Marlow.

After the first DJ for the night, Jen Moore, started playing there were noises of someone banging at the roller door. The organisers, venue owners and the DJs decided to turn the subwoofer off.

“The crowd was appreciative of the new found luxury of being around other people, having a good boogie and celebrating that a brand new, infact Melbourne’s first new queer night since last year’s first lockdown, had managed to go ahead – despite coming less than 24 hours after Melbourne’s third lockdown was lifted. For every artist involved, we shared the same joy as our audiences. While the sound level had not been increased, the style and energy of the music had. It was a COVIDsafe dance floor, with people social distancing and adhering to wearing masks etc,” said DJ Marlow.

At 10pm there was a fresh complaint, followed by another 30 minutes later. “The organisers were so upset about the complaints that they contemplated stopping the entire event all together.  However they decided against this and continued the event inside,” added DJ Marlow.

Jessi Lewis, the organiser of the event said that it was a “baptism by fire”.

“After so long in lockdown, and knowing as I do many other people just like myself who saw a whole year of work in events and the like disappear in less than a couple of days since March 2020,  it was a proud moment on Thursday when things got into their groove. The dance floor was packed and we overcame the challenges thrown at us by members of the public,” said Jessi.

Jessi, a local resident who has lived in the area for five years, apologised if the neighbours were upset but pointed out that Thornbury does indeed get a bit noisy as venues have reopened after lockdown.

“I do wonder if those that made complaints did fully understand the current state of the arts in Australia. Perhaps a little more empathy would have been shown. As a queer event, that also provided paid oppotunitiees to artists after the lockdowns of 2020, events like SISSY are now more vital than ever as Melbourne begins to find its groove once again. It’ll take time, but the strength of our first event, provided a small but bright glimmer of hope.”

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 Jessi pointed out that nothing that was planned for the event was illegal and complied with the license for the venue.

“I do have lingering questions in the days since Thursday and having heard from some residents that noise has been an issue for the last couple of months. But some how they came into the venue to raise concerns (and make threats to the venue owners) on the one night that was openly marketed as a queer event, acrosss an eight week period,” said Jessi.

Jessi said that they had learnt from Thursday’s turn of events, but promise to return next month reinvigorated and with new plans.

“We set out to create an event which brought community back together, while both celebrating and supporting local queer artists, we achieved both last Thursday in equal measure. I am hopeful that the actions of some last Thursday, will not negatively impact what is an independent venue,  100 percent behind the LGBTQI communities, hit hard by this ongoing pandemi, in future times to come,” added Jessi.

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