NIGHTLIFE: Adomako Aman and friends
WHAT DOES the nightclub represent to you? This is a question asked by filmmaker Adomako Aman, as he ventures into the gritty club culture of black and Latino gay men in his indie documentary: Dancing In The Dark.
The 25-year-old created this film to document the gay nightlife scene in New York, and explore how these spaces are significant to LGBT+ culture, and specifically, to black and Latino gay men.
Aman spoke to Life & Style’s Leah Sinclair about the controversial documentary, the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando and how LGBT+ culture has influenced the majority of things you love; from fashion to music.
L&S: What inspired you to create this film?
AA: What inspired me was the lack of representation of black and brown gay men in film. In 2013, I began to brainstorm ideas about the documentary, and I knew that I wanted to create a film that revolved around LGBT+ culture, but I was uncertain about my approach. After a month of watching queer TV/film, I immediately recognised the lack of brown, gay men on screen and I felt that I needed to contribute to this narrative and help tell some very important stories from my community.
L&S: How long did it take to create, edit and release the film?
AA: It all started in 2014, when I began to organise a list of things I felt was important to address in the film. From there, I started shooting it in February of that year, and we finished filming in August 2015. So it took around a year and a half to complete and we had our first screening at the Latino Pride Center in Spanish Harlem in May 2016. So it was quite a lengthy process for me, and it was a creative and personal journey that I was happy to go on.
L&S: Did you have any key collaborators on this project?
AA: The key collaborators on this film were the men that shared their stories on screen. Not only did I get the chance to work with these beautiful, strong men, I got to learn about there personal experiences and perspectives about love, growth and strength in both life as well as in club culture.
L&S: How to you think black/Latino gay culture has impacted club culture as a whole?
AA: The thing we’re probably most known for is voguing, which is heavily used in popular culture and has gone beyond the club. Some of your favourite artists from Beyonce, Janet Jackson, Madonna and FKA Twigs have worked with prominent vogueing houses in the nightlife scene, and they are influenced by something that gay men have created.
I feel like LGBT+ club culture has affected all aspects of popular culture, from dance, film, music to fashion. There’s a lot of high profile designers who get inspiration from us and admire our artistic style when were out in the scene.
L&S: Do you think that nightclubs can still serve as a safe space for LGBT+ people after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando?
AA: Absolutely, no matter what community you come from, people are always looking for a sanctuary and club/ nightlife culture can easily serve as that. The tragedy that happened in Orlando was really heartbreaking and a lot of people from the community were sad and afraid to go out. We went from celebrating gay marriage to mourning the death of some of the people from our community. I think the conversation from our people is very important now more than ever, and we should be having discussions in light of Orlando.
L&S: Growing up, how did club culture personally affect you?
AA: Growing up in New York, I’ve always thought that there was something alluring about the nightlife scene in general. Being in a space with strangers who then slowly become acquainted with one another was always very thrilling to me.
L&S: What would you like viewers to take away from the film?
AA: I created this film to showcase some of the men in our community and to add to our narrative as brown LGBT+ people. This film was meant to be apart of the conversation of who we are as people and to hope- fully inspire people to want to share their story, and know that they have something tangible that they can identify with.
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