Queer culture is an essential part of New York City infrastructure. And over the past decade or so, few New Yorkers have built more than Ladyfag. Her parties Battle Hymn and Holy Mountain carry on the city’s spirit of fabulous, big-room clubbing. Her annual LadyLand festival is a Pride-month lynchpin, countering Manhattan’s corporate pride monolith with a notably femme-forward, trans-focused roster of queer luminaries. It debuted in 2018 with a lineup boasting Kim Petras and the late and much-missed Sophie; everyone from Mykki Blanco to Christina Aguilera has played since then.
This year—one in which the very presence of trans people is being criminalized—LadyLand ditched its previous site, Bushwick’s yawning megaclub Brooklyn Mirage, and is making a home for itself beneath the Kosciuszko Bridge in Queens. It’s a spot beloved by Ladyfag herself, who lives nearby in Greenpoint and has spent the past three months working with local conservancy North Brooklyn Parks Alliance to figure out how to transform it into a party for and by queer people. “I can’t even imagine what it’s gonna feel like when there’s, you know, nearly 6,000 people underneath the bridge and dancing,” Ladyfag says. “That energy is what Pride is going to be all about for me this year. It’s going to be pure magic. Very, very New York underground magic.”
Since 2019, the space has become known as Under the K Bridge Park. “The space kind of lives and breathes,” Ladyfag says. “It’s the headliner, in a weird way, of the festival.” Perhaps best known as the site of 2020’s notorious “plague raves,” the seven-acre abandoned lot was reconceived by Toronto’s Public Work into an El-Space below the elevated subways, bridges, and highways. A “solar slice,” or open expanse between the bridge spans, lets in the light.
“The climate right now for queer people, and especially trans people, all over America is really dark and dystopian,” Ladyfag says. “The fact that there’s a state park hosting us reminds me that I live in New York, and that’s a special thing. The city has been really supportive.” She and her team will build out three spaces for LadyLand: around the mostly queer-owned and -operated food vendors and marketplaces, a structure she calls “the truck,” will host local DJs. A Creekside stage offers optimistic views of the gradually improving ecologies of Newtown Creek, while a main stage for performers Big Freedia, Peaches, and headliner Honey Dijon.
“Our story is really old,” Ladyfag says of Honey Dijon. “We started together, we could both barely pay our rent. We did parties where people didn’t even want to come and sit in back and laugh, we didn’t care. Then it slowly grew, and we grew together. You build a family. Honey was overlooked for so many years, and now suddenly everyone’s like Oh Honey Honey Honey! So for her, LadyLand is a homecoming.” And if there’s one thing queer people know, it’s that there’s no place like home.