Credits: Photography – Winchester Creatives & Jake Copier / Artwork – Tom Jager
The queer drum & bass movement continues to gain exciting and inspiring momentum, changing the game and making drum & bass a unified and boundary-free place where everyone feels included and feels safe to express, and be, themselves.
Following the work of Nathan X and the Unorthodox collective – who have just set yet another precedent by hosting (and absolutely smashing) a stage at Tomorrowland, one of the biggest EDM events in Europe – other movements are beginning to form and take root. Movements like PANACEA, the first inclusive LGBTQ+ drum & bass event in The Netherlands.
Launching on August 5 with headliners Urbandawn, Stay-C and AMA at Palace, Groningen, PANACEA is the first event of its kind in The Netherlands and will feature a diverse wealth of international talent including drag performers. With full focus on creating a safe space, the event will have designated safe space representatives in the venue as well as a number for attendees to contact if they’re unable to find security.
“I am very grateful and happy to be part of this event! It’s been amazing talking with Mailo and discussing their passion in wanting to focus on inclusivity. We have spoken a lot about our views on what needs to change and it’s amazing to be working with someone who has put alot of heart into making this event happen and I am very honoured to be playing the very first PANACEA.” AMA
PANACEA is the work of Mailo Baxx, the promoter who previously a series of events called AGORA. Unafraid to speak out about their own experiences, and in defence of other women, queer, non-binary and trans people who’ve experienced abuse and toxicity within drum & bass, Mailo has been a vocal advocate, fighting for much needed change and equality within the drum & bass scene both nationally and online.
Experiencing high volumes of abuse in return – both online and in real life – recent events in life presented Mailo with an option: either walk away from a music culture she has been inspired by for many years and quit drum & bass for good. Or level up and set a brand new benchmark. Fortunately she picked the latter. It takes place next week. We called up Mailo to find out more about PANACEA and their own journey that’s brought them to this point…
So this started with your AGORA events. They’ve been going for a while, right?
Yeah, they’ve been going on for quite a while now! It started September 2019. The first edition was a pilot-event to see if it would have potential in our rather small city. The headliner was Terrence & Phillip from Australia. It was their Dutch debut show, as my main focus is to book new names that most people have never seen before. I want people to discover new artists and music, while at the same time, these artists can reach a new crowd.
I also wanted to try to have at least one woman on all of my line-ups. I know that sounds bad, but the Dutch scene just isn’t that massive as in the UK or NZ and Groningen is not quite the metropolis, so my options were limited at that point. The reason for wanting to book women this is that our scene is very unequal and very male-dominated. I wanted to use my position as a promoter to make a small change in regards to this imbalance and inequality. I was able to book our Dutch moon princess Yue for my first ever event, which I found so cool! She is a great DJ and I see her as a role model for young girls/women in the scene, so I was very happy to have her in Groningen.
Overall, the crowd was really happy and it went really well, so in February 2020, I did the second edition in another venue with AC13 as our headliner, also doing his Dutch debut show. It was significantly bigger than the first event, everyone was super happy once again and even a little fanbase emerged. To maintain momentum, I had my third event planned for May 2020. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit and, from that moment on, we were in nightlife-lockdown.
I had to cancel edition three a total of four times but during lockdown I did two food events where people could eat while enjoying D&B. Fred V headlined our first event of this kind alongside CaitC and others! For the second one, we welcomed hønkboy Waeys as the headliner. MΛN, alongside others also played. The entire line-up consisted of Dutchies, which was quite the vibe. It felt a bit like a neighbourhood get-together.
Fast forward to April 2022! Edition three finally happened in another venue and the line-up was truly amazing; Shimon B2B Trimer, Alibi and Tweakz. As a surprise, we ordered a load of LED foam sticks to hand out to the crowd and this was definitely a success. The visitors were loving it! We ended the night in style with the biggest banger of all times: Dancing Queen by ABBA. You should’ve seen the looks on Shimon’s, Trimer’s and Alibi’s faces.
Ha! Do you DJ as well? What’s your route into D&B?
I’m not a DJ. I’ve only played for fun at some house parties and during the Unmute Us Protests. I think I could actually become a good DJ if I put my mind to it, but I don’t think that’s who I am as a person. I like organising events more, bringing people together, creating unique line-ups, etc. Being in the spotlight under that amount of pressure just ain’t for me, I think. But who knows what the future will bring?
My interest in event organisation sparked when I was working as a bartender at two underground nightclubs in Groningen. These were the clubs I always visited to attend drum & bass raves. To me, it was such a revelation finding out these clubs even existed and discovering the vibes there was a very memorable part of my life.
Before I came to Groningen, I lived in a shithole called Emmen and there was NOTHING there besides a handful of extremely basic clubs and bars. So moving to Groningen has been my best move yet, as it gave me the freedom to explore a better, more diverse nightlife, to discover more genres, to meet many different types of people and to become more and more myself.
Eventually I got to work for a big organisation in Leiden called LBC Events. I had a nice encounter with a stranger there. Apparently this was Luuk from the act Lifecycle, I learnt later. He was one of the promoters of the event. He had noticed how passionate I was when I talked about D&B and gave me the chance to gain some experience through working for LBC. To this day, I’m still thankful for that chance he gave me. It’s unbelievably difficult to get somewhere in Dutch drum & bass, let alone as a woman, so this was very important to me. I got to do their social media marketing and communications and I was leading the promo team as well. This was a stepping stone for me to eventually organise my own events in Groningen.
Now looking forward, tell us about PANACEA. What makes it different to the previous AGORA events?
The concept is that it’s an inclusive event, mainly focusing on queer people, women and people of colour. The goals are: safety, diversity, equality and inclusion. My team and my line-up reflect these values as much as possible. The team consists of trans/non-binary people and (queer) women and men. The line-up is very diverse and safety is essential. I want everyone to feel safe; the crowd, the artists, the team. I wish everyone the freedom to be able to wear whatever they want to wear, to kiss whoever they want to kiss, to dance however they want to dance and to just be who they are. I obviously already felt this way when I was doing AGORA, but I never ‘marketed’ the event as such. I now felt the need to do so.
Panacea means ‘cure-all’ or ‘universal remedy’. I chose this name, because with this concept, I want to try to ‘cure’ all the bad and/or toxic things within our scene and make PANACEA the happiest and safest place possible for marginalised groups and for all of their friends and allies. A place where everyone can be themselves, in all freedom. A place where they are celebrated, supported, taken seriously and treated as equals.
It’s different from AGORA, because I have faced an insane amount of hate, harassment, sexism/misogyny, threats and bullying online, in my DMs, but also through phone calls and in real life. I even lost a good friend over this. I was already aware of a lot of issues in the D&B scene and industry, of course, but as a promoter who pushes equality, supports women, speaks out about sexism, sexual harassment and sex offenders, I became the focus point of these ‘attacks’.
It’s so upsetting and disappointing to read this
It’s makes me really sad that so many women can’t be safe in drum & bass. Women who take up space get to deal with so much resistance. It’s like they don’t want women to be there or they just see women as objects instead of human beings.
I’ve reached out to women myself as well when I needed someone to talk to. For instance, Dynamics and Workforce have helped me a few times when the amount of hate I received got too heavy. I’m very grateful that they were always right there when I needed them! On top of that, EQ50 has given me way more insights in certain issues within our scene, such as racism. Furthermore, there’s also lots of homo- and transphobia and other types of discrimination within our scene and industry. I think it’s safe to say that our scene pretends to be all about love, unity and open-mindedness, but when you take a closer look, you will find that this is make-believe. I can give you an example of the transphobia I’ve experienced, if you like…
If you’re comfortable to do so…
Sure. So in January I launched a crowd-funder to ask for support in me legally changing my name as I wanted to distance myself from my old name for several reasons. People can choose to help, or not. That is the beauty of crowdfunding projects. But a really weird thing happened… Someone actually donated 5 Euros just to insult me.
Yes. Just imagine. A bitter, frustrated adult man on his couch scrolling through his social media looking for posts on which he can comment. He spotted my post because this is exactly what he’s looking for: someone who is vulnerable and looking for help. He wants to leave a nasty comment on it, but he can’t, because you first have to make a donation in order to be able to leave a comment. So yeah, he donated money just to write a comment saying ‘There’s 2 genders’.
I have to look on the comedy side of this. What kind of pathetic human being pays to insult people? But on a much more serious note, this man is known for similar incidents in the past and he is a drum & bass DJ here in The Netherlands. He’s still getting booked. Promoters and the industry all know what kind of person he is, but they don’t seem to care. That’s the state or our Dutch scene in a nutshell. This person is not alone; there are other people who are known predators, sexists, misogynists, racists, homophobes, transphobes who still get bookings. None of them face any repercussions, none of them are being fired, banned from venues or excluded from our scene.
Instead, they will be defended by the masses, while the people who speak out about these things will be silenced through harassment, bullying, exclusion or even threats and they will keep doing this to the people who speak up, until they either shut up or leave our scene. ‘Problem solved.’ If that isn’t the most backwards thing ever, I don’t know what is.
So, from the outside, D&B looks like paradise. But in reality there is so much toxicity and negativity. That’s been a hard pill to swallow for me. I think that’s why some people get mad at me, too. I’m criticising their paradise and this causes a defensive response. Instead of being progressive and open-minded, most people show conservativity, anger and hate. I wanted to give up on drum & bass altogether a few times because of all this. The last time being a few months ago, in May of this year. I was so sad and heartbroken, but I turned it into motivation and love once more. Frustration lead to creation and that’s how PANACEA came to exist.
“As a firm believer in highlighting the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in all spheres of life, it is an honour to be involved in PANACEA. The more representatives of all humans an event has, the more I feel like a human being instead of being ‘female’ or ‘of colour.’ The more people are invited to be themselves, the more comfortable I feel being myself, and that always results in the best music and experience for all. Variety creates quality; I’ve seen this at work, at music events, and personal life. I look forward to this inclusive event next weekend, plus I’ll have some amazing drag performers accompanying me for my set; how cool is that?” Stay-C
PANACEA is the first event of its kind in The Netherlands, right?
Yes, it is! It’s the very first queer and inclusive drum & bass event in The Netherlands. It’s quite exciting! I hope it will be accepted and supported by our scene. It would be the most beautiful thing in my life to see everyone there being happy, dancing the entire night, enjoying the best music genre in the world, played by the most kind and talented artists, accompanied by the most beautiful drag performers. That’s a dream right there. But we’ll see! If only 200 people will be there, we will still have the best time ever. I don’t care if I go bankrupt; I have to do this and it will either be the extraordinary start of something new or the beautiful end of an era.
I believe this has to happen for us to see progress. We have to create a safe space as it’s 99% men running the scene, who have no clue what it’s like to be a minority, let one being capable of understanding things like sexual harassment/assault or racism. The diverse team I have behind me right now is amazing and there are some people who support me and the event from a distance. I couldn’t have done it without them. Together we can do it. We can create that safe place.
I also want to shout out Nathan X from Unorthodox. My heart jumped a little when I saw the video about Unorthodox on UKF’s Instagram and it’s sick to see what Nathan is doing. To see where he and his crew are now, hosting stages on massive events like Tomorrowland, leaving all of those jealous haters behind, is just epic to me. What a power move. What an inspiration.
Nathan X and the Unorthodox collective are a huge inspiration. They’ve genuinely changed the game! Tell us about the line-up and everything else people can expect from the night…
First of all, all of the artists on the line-up – as well as my designer Tom Jager – are in full support of the concept. We have six artists from six different nationalities, we have 3 Dutch debuts, plus I’ve booked two beautiful drag performers – Eleanor Aurora and Miss Mystique – who will be performing alongside the amazing headliners; Urbandawn, Stay-C and AMA.
“Music is universal and it’s probably the best way to connect people from different cultures, backgrounds and genres; even if you don’t speak the same language. Jungle and Drum&Bass came from an inclusive and incredibly welcoming environment, so I believe it’s extremely important we support events like PANACEA – it’s all about love and music.” – URBANDAWN
Urbandawn is just so wholesome and has been very supportive towards me. I actually got into contact with him through Alibi, who I booked for my previous event. He linked us up and that’s how I was able to get involved in Urbandawn’s EU Summer Tour. Stay-C, AMA, Dava, Synoxis and Yue have also shown so much love and support. Every one of them is behind me and they are super excited and hyped for this night. I’m so happy having these kind people on a lineup together. I’m sure it will be the most wholesome night I’ve ever experienced within drum & bass!
Venue-wise this time we will have be at PALACE Groningen. This is a beautiful nightclub right in the city centre of Groningen. Since we focus on safety a lot, there will be two female and two male security guards at the venue. In addition to that, AGORA will provide a few ‘Safe Persons’ who function as points of contact for whenever something bad happens on the dancefloor, we will also have a ‘Safe Number’ in place which people can text when they’re unable to reach security in case of emergency.
On top of that, there will be gender neutral toilets and toilets just for women plus trans/non-binary people. We will also follow a zero-tolerance policy in regards to sexism, sexual harassment/assault, racism, homophobia, transphobia, violence and any form of discrimination. If something like this happens, the person will be kicked out and banned.
Brilliant. What else does the world need to know about PANACEA right now?
Well, firstly the world needs to know that my designer Tom Jager (who has done all of the artwork for AGORA Events) has made another stunning piece of art for PANACEA. It features a futuristic witch with bright, glowing elixirs floating around her. I wanted the character to be a tribute to my personal role models in D&B. Therefore, this character is a depiction of AMA. To me, she is such a big inspiration. I see her breaking through the glass ceiling in such a rapid tempo, she’s mad good behind the decks and her energy is something else. I asked her if she would be okay to be depicted on the artwork and she was! I think it turned out really cool.
But above all, the world needs to know that things can be done differently and better than how it’s being done now. You’ve just got to be willing to look yourself in the eyes and ask yourself if you’re doing enough: if you’re treating others with respect, if you’re taking responsibility as a label manager/promoter/agent/artist or even as a friend/family member/just as a human being to keep minorities safe. And if not, ask yourself why. It should be common sense to speak up when you see someone sexually harassing someone else – no matter the gender, by the way. It should be common sense to end business relationships with sex offenders, to ban predators from events and to not work with racists, homophobes, transphobes etc. The world needs to know that women, queer people, people of colour are here, will forever be here and will never not be here. If anything, I hope that people will learn from PANACEA that diversity is absolutely beautiful. Just look at our line-up; it’s a dream come true. I hope that the future generations will do better in regards to diversity, equality, inclusion and safety than the current people who are in positions of power. Let’s not wait for the next generation though! All of us can start right now. Literally right now. Let’s fucking go.