This Festival Is Celebrating Sillyness and Supporting LGBTQ+ Charities

HALO mini-festival is transforming The Cause into a 12-hour immersive and inclusive queer utopia.

ARTWORK Rory Donnelly

Prepare to immerse yourself in hedonism at HALO festival this Friday 25th August. The new mini-festival is transforming London’s The Cause with an immersive array blending art and music and prioritising pleasure, positivity and queer pride.

HALO is the brainchild of London-based, Northern creative Christopher McCrory and is supported by British Pakistani multi-hyphenate Aadam Sheikh. The duo met on the dance floor and have been creatively connected ever since. “I was quite young and not too aware of what was going on in the scene but Chris took me under his wing for a few raves and introduced me to the family that was the rave scene,” says Aadam.

The event was concocted as a direct response to London’s existing clubbing scene, which in the last couple of years has seen a sharp decline in LGBTQ+ venues and club nights, no doubt impacted by the pandemic’s after-effects on the capital’s nightlife industry. “We feel some club nights have become so focused on being super cool and elite – with the type of bodies or cultural capitals that need to be present to ensure it’s a ‘cool’ night,” Aadam explains.

For HALO, this means centring inclusivity and positivity at the heart of the event through a host of activities, including an art exhibition, slow-fashion pop-ups, beautification stations and even a giant inflatable unicorn. “We decided to curate a small gallery space where we found artists we love that make us and others smile through their work,” says Aadam. “Chris is curating this and has assembled some really fun artists to fill a space at the Cause. We also have Jamie of Scarrie World to curate some fun vendors and services with Zoe of ZMM Agency to also work on some fun sponsored services.”

The varied roster of activities and installations provides a plethora of entertainment, decentering alcohol as the only means to engage with the queer clubbing scene, making it an ideal Friday night to bring the whole group chat to.

As for the music, HALO will play host to an impressive roster of international DJ talent curating an eclectic soundscape designed to help party-goers celebrate what it means to be queer today. The line-up includes headliner DJ Aiden while inclusive community 2Cperrea, established to celebrate Latin America’s perreo sub-culture, will also be performing. The Hungama, Lexii, AllyXpress and collectives Jungle Kitty, GGI, Pay IT, and HALO itself will also join the decks for 12 hours worth of dancing.

Besides the good vibes and inclusive representation, HALO is also encouraging what Aadam jokingly refers to as “ethical hedonism”. “As much as our mini-festival is centred around this idea of ‘hedonism’, we also want it to shine a light on some of the angels who provide us this joy even though they’re still fighting themselves,” he explains. “The community as a whole owes a lot to the trans community for what they have fought for and are still fighting for and, in turn, that allows us to do what we do. We wanted to create a way we can not only celebrate the freedom they are giving us but also create a space that can, in some way, emulate that bricolage of freedom that we will one day all have.” 

HALO will donate a portion of its profits to six LGBTQIA+ charities including Mermaids, which supports some of the most vulnerable members of the trans community, trans and non-binary youth, and the Trans Legal Clinic, which provides free, accessible legal help to transgender and non-binary people in need, who, due to society’s prejudices and systemic failures, often struggle to cover their legal fees. Profits will also go to charities Gendered Intelligence, Galop, We Exist and The Outside Project.

“The whole idea of HALO is to recreate the club as a silly space for joy,” says Aadam. “We want our guests to come in with their friends and have a fun time with our music, our set and our energy. We have some set moments that will come across quite random but they will all serve the purpose that is ‘this is stupid and fun so just go with it and let loose’.”

You can support HALO festival here and get your tickets for Friday 25th August here.

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