All images Lois Cohen
Styling Nightclub Disaster
Growing up amongst the who’s who of Amsterdam’s rave, alternative, raw club culture, NIGHTCLUB DISASTER (a.k.a. NCD) is the brainchild of budding fashion figures Indiana Roma Voss and Dennis Schreuder.
NCD’s glorious, dramatic, hysteric beauty can only be described as a new age experimental performance art version of the old pop cult that encompassed the 1980s and 1990s’ love for powerful imagery, fluidity and the rise of the genderless icon. With club nights in Amsterdam, Europe’s seemingly party capital, Indiana and Dennis have something else to say about beauty, club culture and living like life’s art.
Artists interacting with the audience and world with stimuli going refreshingly haywire; NCD’s aesthetic, fluidly curated by it’s imaginative young fashion/art culture thinkers takes (now popularised) drag from the media to create an ambience of loud, tastefully thought out performances that take the progressive club night to a place from where there is no return. After all, isn’t performance, fashion and about making a difference to perspectives and changing, evolving with the ever fast paced world? Time for some serious fun and then some more (if you have the eye to see past the obvious).
In your words, what is NCD exactly? A group of cool club kids who perform? A medium for art or style?
INDIANA & DENNIS: Nightclub Disaster is a creative outlet for Dennis and my collective vision on gender, sexuality, performance, fashion and nightlife. This is an idea that has manifested itself in the form of a group of performers/artists who have been lucky enough to act out our creativity and be our medium.
Amsterdam has always been a center for attracting clubgoers, party animals, artists and sometimes ick..tourists. What is the ‘language’ or nature of your collective and why Amsterdam?
INDIANA & DENNIS:
Though Amsterdam is always seen as this great party city, Dennis and I felt deprived of a non-judgmental freeing nightlife scene. We missed the creativity we read about in books, heard from our parents or saw in the movies — the costumes, the hysteria, the drama. We felt all the parties we attended were homogenized and there was no power in ones’ individuality.
Where did you grow up, respectively?
INDIANA: Hailing originally from New York City I was fortunate enough to be raised in one of Amsterdam’s poshest neighborhoods. Once puberty set in, I found my identity in the city’s underground scene. You could say I grew up in Amsterdam’s punk and rave scene.
DENNIS: I too was lucky in the sense my family was well off, though the twist was, we lived in one of Amsterdam’s oldest junkie neighborhood. My Father owned coffee shops and bars throughout, so I was raised in a fairly wild environment. Quite the juxtaposition you could say.
Are there any social, sexuality or bias barriers that you look
forward to breaking or is it simply all about keeping the old school club cult alive?
INDIANA: The old-school club cult will always be there. There is always going to be a new generation coming of age to inhabit the club kid scene and make it their own. As we have gotten older and wiser (ha-ha) we now see what once started out as something we did for fun can serve a higher purpose. We learned to use the Nightclub Disaster to express our social and political opinions through our looks and characters as
performers. The front running barriers we like to tackle are gender roles sexuality, and to disrupt people’s perception of their comfort zones.
DENNIS: For us it has all been about growth, like Indiana said, we never started this to show off our political agenda — it organically came up around us, how could we not run with it? How could we sit idly by with what’s happening here and around the world and not express ourselves? Expressing oneself is the core message of Nightclub Disaster.
What influences from pop culture, people, specific eras and drag history made you start it?
INDIANA: We started after I saw the film “Party Monster” which was based on a book “Disco Bloodbath” written by one of the original Club Kids, James St. James. I became incredibly intrigued with the NYC club kids of the 1980’s and 1990’s researching by asking my parents’ friends in NYC, finding photographs even some videos amongst other archival items.
The process was a bit slow in the early days of Nightclub Disaster; we had no idea what we were doing on stage or in the looks and characters we had created. We just went for it and trusted our instincts. Dennis and I never spent much time having to agree with each other’s vision. We have been blessed with a relationship, shared creativity and sense of style that doesn’t need much communication. We have a short hand language between us; we understand each other and look at things the same way without having to discuss it.
DENNIS: After Indiana told me about the movie, I familiarized myself with club kids and like Indiana, researched like crazy. Because my mother was raised by drag queens, the fascination with drag was something I’ve had ever since I was a child. A year or so after we started NCD, “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” became insanely popular with the masses which opened a lot of doors for us. In a roundabout way, the show helped us build our own personas — though I wouldn’t describe what we do as drag.
A google search for NCD shows up a Facebook, YouTube and Instagram page. Is it your prerogative to keep NCD underground and purely experiential or would you expand further?
INDIANA: We are specific about what parties we perform at and don’t say ‘yes’ to every gig. We need to feel like the party is right for us and the audience will understand what we are doing while being open to a new experience. We have considered deleting all social media but in the end, we just have too good of a time taking pictures and making videos to delete all media!
DENNIS: The reason we still have social media is to spread our message and put ourselves out there. Like Indiana said, we are selective in where we perform but also in what we post online. Our social media accounts should be viewed as a sneak preview, not as the whole shebang.
What is the most mad thing that has happened out of nowhere during a NCD session?
INDIANA: Probably when Dennis got into a fight with a homophobe on the dance floor during one of our performances dressed as crossdressing pregnant alien…
DENNIS: That time when one of our performers broke her vagina bone (aka pelvic bone) was iconic also.
As creative individuals apart from NCD, what have you been up to?
INDIANA: I am working on designing my first couture collection as we speak. After winning the Elle Style Awards this past September, I have been working non- stop as both a stylist and an art + creative director, which has been incredible and I am loving every minute of it. Look out for a calendar collaboration with Lois Cohen coming out this June!
DENNIS: I am currently interning at fashion house Maison the Faux as a part of my Bachelor in Fashion Design at Design Academy ArtEZ. I am extremely excited and very much looking forward to realising my graduation collection this September.
If your respective careers took a sharp corporate turn, would this still go on?
INDIANA & DENNIS: We really don’t feel our careers would necessarily go in that direction. If we get to a point where we both feel like “okay it’s time to pass on the baton”, our hope is that all what NCD represents, will spread to the next generation and they will pick up where we left off and put on other Disasters to keep our vision alive for generations to come.
By Vona Roberta