Manila-based producer LONER finds his groove in a sacred queer space: the dance floor
Words and Art By MC Galang
Lean Ordinario’s LONER veers away from the high-testosterone, heteropatriarchy machinations of rock & roll and mainstream entertainment landscape to find solace in a sacred queer space: the dance floor.
On his latest video for “Catwalk,” a cut from his collaborative Manila Dance EP with fellow Manila-based producer Aries, LONER felt it strongly to pay homage to club culture both as a budding participant and an ally. “‘Catwalk’ is about dressing up. Growing up, I always felt judged for being picky about clothing as if I was doing something wrong. Masculinity gets quite toxic when you’re doing things that society has deemed ‘feminine’. I wrote this song to express that frustration,” he tells The Rest Is Noise.
Coincidentally, he himself was undergoing a creative transition, one that dance and club culture has always embraced, empowered, and promoted through diversity and artistic independence. He found this convergence of freedom and inclusivity when he discovered underground clubs during his tour as session drummer of no rome’s band in support of The 1975’s UK shows. He decided to learn more about it at home. “When my girlfriend brought me to an Elephant night in XX:XX, I was amazed by the unapologetic energy from the partygoers.”
The music video was shot during an Elephant pre-party, hoping to capture the authenticity and rawness of the regularly hosted queer night in its purest form. “They were a huge inspiration to me as I was writing this song and I thought this was the best way to pay homage to their confidence and pride in being themselves,” LONER shares.
Dance music owes so much to queer culture because they’re the ones that first nurtured it. It catered primarily to gay men of color before it made its way to the mainstream. Just like a lot of other music, genres are born when oppressed people express themselves. Now they’ve created a safe space for people that just wanna be themselves.
For director Jon Olarte, the video was also a way to re-experience the energy from these events. “Originally, I wanted to make it like the intro of Freaks and Geeks but the vibe didn’t match. It took me some time to figure out what to do with the edit. When the lockdown happened, I really missed going out to dance and meet people. I experienced endless amounts of swiping and scrolling on my phone. Then I thought about how that would make a cool concept for the edit of the video. I didn’t have enough footage of my own so I asked my friend Paolo Gonzales for extra footage of the venue. Luckily, they matched the red lights and lo-fi aesthetic of Lean’s recording for his live performance on Instagram. Paolo’s footage meshed well with what I had previously documented.”
LONER feels that there’s more to be done. “I want people to know more about this culture… Dance music owes so much to queer culture because they’re the ones that first nurtured it. It catered primarily to gay men of color before it made its way to the mainstream. Just like a lot of other music, genres are born when oppressed people express themselves. Now they’ve created a safe space for people that just wanna be themselves. As an ally, it’s my responsibility to educate those that are ignorant and help correct their prejudice. I believe in equal rights for everyone.”