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2023-12-22 2:05 pm
A dance event in Collingwood town hall. There are a group of people doing a choreographed dance number.

From disco to ballroom, All The Queens Men are dancing for change

March 19, 2024
March 18, 2024

A monthly dance club might not sound like an obvious space for sparking social transformation. But that's exactly what Bank Australia customer All The Queens Men (ATQM) are doing through their LGBTIQ+ Elders Dance Club

From day doof discos to marathons with a Greek tragedy twist, ATQM are not afraid to embrace unconventional ideas in pursuit of change. “ATQM is about bringing different people together through the arts,” says Artistic Director Tristan Meecham. “The projects that we make are really around supporting and celebrating different communities.”

Founded in 2010 by Artistic Directors Tristan and Bec Reid, ATQM is an artistic group advocating for diversity and inclusion for marginalised groups through performance-based projects and experiences. Think music, dancing, and uninhibited expressions of spectacle and sparkle. They unite people of “all shapes, sizes and identities,” to create art that is purpose-driven and collective.  

“We're joy generators,” says Tristan. “Our work connects people and celebrates people's differences and similarities at the same point in time. It's absolutely acknowledging diverse community experiences, while making sure that people can be together in a unified space.”

ATQM is an unassuming, yet deliberate genre of social advocacy. With a commitment to elevate inclusive queer culture at its core, their projects diminish stigma and empower diverse communities that are frequently overlooked in society. 

“We try to create work that allows people that may not necessarily have the microphone to stand up and be heard and listened to in different ways,” Tristan explains.

ATQM are firm believers in the strength of artistry and creativity as vessels to spearhead social shifts. “Artists are always looking at spaces in community and in the world and commenting on them so that there can be some collective change, thought, or consideration – or seeing those things in different perspectives and ways,” says Tristan. 

Since its inception, ATQM has evolved into something bigger as community members and allies have become increasingly united. “It's for anyone that really wants to celebrate and honour a diverse group of people and be part of that.”

And that's where ATQM’s LGBTIQ+ Elders Dance Club comes in. The Dance Club is a social transformation and dance project for LGBTIQ+ people and allies over 65 years old, held monthly in Collingwood. 

“It's a cultural space, but it's also a social initiative responding to research around LGBTIQ+ elders feeling socially isolated,” says Tristan. “In a lot of queer events five or six years ago, you may not have seen a lot of work that was specifically for older people. So these projects were about addressing a gap, and making sure that everyone could feel that they were part of a community and celebration.”

ATQM successfully applied for one of Bank Australia’s 2023 community customer grants, which aim to elevate the social, environmental and economic ambitions of customer organisations. The grant will be used to support the Dance Club, allowing older LGBTIQ+ people to continue attending the Dance Club for free, learn new dances, and connect with others in a safe space.

By advancing the recreational and social rights of older LGBTIQ+ people, the Dance Club strengthens its community by promoting their visibility and challenging social stigmas such as ageism. It also provides important physical, cognitive and emotional benefits for those that attend, through its creative and physical practice. 

“People are coming to this space because firstly, there aren't a lot of cultural spaces for older LGBTIQ+ people. So there's a great need for it. And that's why it's continued for so long, despite the challenges that hold for two artists to keep doing that year after year.”

The Dance Club offers an opportunity for the older LGBTIQ+ community to discover themselves in a capacity that many have not experienced. “They're able to celebrate themselves, they're able to be who they want to be, without any judgement from the outside world,” explains Tristan. “They're able to enjoy their bodies, dance, and celebrate and move.”

Tristan says that Bank Australia’s support has demonstrated an active approach to aligning values through action for the betterment of the community. Thanks to the grant, ATQM can continue to facilitate the Dance Club for another year. “If we didn't have it,” he says, “there'd be a sort of natural conclusion to it. So it means that it can keep going.”

“Through our work, we're discovering that people really feel like they have been celebrated and acknowledged and seen,” Tristan says. “That's a really powerful thing.”

Learn more about
Bank Australia’s community customer grants.

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