Duckie: Border Force

Brighton Dome Corn Exchange, Church Street, Saturday, August 1

LAST year immersive club night Duckie recreated its own drag version of the battle between the Mods and Rockers to mark the 50th anniversary of the bank holiday clashes on Brighton beach.

Now, with the addition of artistic director Joshua Sofaer, they are casting a satirical eye across the world’s border controls, in a clubbing spectacular which received its premiere at London Pride in June.

“We were gearing up for the election and there was all this panic language about the borders of the UK,” says Sofaer about the creation of the nightclub experience.

“When people were talking about migrants dying in the Mediterranean and benefit scroungers coming to the UK we wanted to show the other side of the equation.

“We wanted to bring the politics back to Pride.”

Dressed in appropriate tourist or holiday garb, clubbers try to get into a different country.

The experience is designed to underline the privileges of being a UK passport holder.

“The UK passport is first equal to the US, Germany, Sweden and Finland in giving access to 174 countries of the world,” says Sofaer. “By contrast an Afghanistan passport gives you access to 28.”

On entry everyone is given a passport containing a random visa to enter one of four countries – Brazil, China, Russia or India.

“They are known as the BRIC economies – the economic superpowers of the future,” says Sofaer.

“There may be a global powershift away from the West in the future – and those may be the countries people want to migrate to. People are already migrating from the West to China for business opportunities.”

The room is divided into these four countries which each features live shows by 60 drag acts and performers with connections to that nation, many of whom were sourced through the young theatre workshop DHSS (Duckie Homosexualist Summer School).

The fun really starts when clubbers try to move between countries.

“They have to go to an embassy and apply for a visa,” says Sofaer. “To get one they need to do something fun or performative – and not everyone will pass. Two are about showing off a skill, whereas the other two are more of a dare.”

Overseeing it all is Amy Lame, who will be providing the musical soundscape for the night, and as Prime Minister of the world will also be making pronouncements.

Sofaer is keen that everyone stays until the end for the full experience – when Lame decrees all the borders are pulled down.

“In London people were crying,” he says. “It felt particularly utopian – a vision of what we might work towards as oppose to reinforcing barriers.”

When it comes to representing the different countries Sofaer admits it’s more of a drag take on each nation.

“We can’t hope to do justice to the complexities of these countries in the space of a club,” he says. “We want to provoke the idea of nationhood and play with drag. It’s almost like the first page of Google – what countries have become when we think of them.”

And there are some political and satirical points being made throughout – not least certain countries’ records on LGBT rights.

“In more than 75 countries across the world homosexuality is illegal,” says Sofaer. “We hope we can remind people that while our politicians panic about our borders, there are people that share our sexual preference in other parts of the world who are being murdered.

“Many of the visa requirements to prove you’re gay in the UK are ridiculous – if someone answers yes to the question if they have ever slept with someone from the opposite sex then they are considered not to be gay!

“This is all under the surface – we are trying to balance the politics with having a good time. It’s about offering a nightclub audience a space in which they can begin to think about the global situation.”

Starts 9pm to 3am, tickets £15. Call 01273 709709.