interview by Breon Jones
illustration by Justin Hager
We spoke with Juliana Huxtable, a 28-year-old multi-media artist and DJ from New York City.
Using Nightlife to Create a Gender-Hybrid Space in NYC
"SHOCKVALUENYC is a party that I started a few years ago. I was working in nightlife and felt a sense of segregation happening in the scene. There were a lot of great faces but select parties had mostly gay dudes, while some were more lesbian heavy. There were some that were more mixed, but they were a very white-oriented crowd. I was hopping between these spaces, socially, and realized most people weren’t speaking to my generation in New York, a younger generation that’s representative of what’s happening culturally, a kind of hybrid relationship to the city, urban culture and music. So I wanted to create a space that reflected that sort of hybridity, and also create a space for gender variance because at the time I was becoming really aware of myself as trans, and the things that I was dealing with and how my desire plays out. So I created a party representing the space that I wanted: generally uplifting, women, gender variant people, and a variety of different types of DJs."
Growing Up A Huxtable
"Both of my parents were super into preserving and making sure that me and my siblings grew up with a really strong idea of black cultural history, so we listened to a lot of jazz, a lot of funk, a lot of disco, a lot of gospel. I think gospel was my favorite music growing up. I grew up in the church. I think it’s some of the most brilliant, beautiful, emotional music that I’ve ever heard. Neither of my parents were really listening to pop or rap, so that’s something that I discovered on my own. They kind of had a Huxtable, Cosby idea of what hip hop signified. Because my mom was really Christian, she didn’t like us listening to hip hop, or listening to music with cuss words, and so all of the music I found on my own was a response to that."
Love Yourself Like No One’s Watching
"One of the nice things about nightlife is that dancing is how I express my self-love, and self-care. You know, you like “get ready! And wear outfits!” That whole aspect, but I have a really spiritual connection to dancing and all of the different ways that being in a space, and even in the context of intoxication, can be a productive way of really exploring yourself, dealing with yourself, working through yourself, being able to find ways to love yourself in that context."
Soundtrack To Her Life
"I don’t really think that’s possible for a single song to really represent me. The mixes that I put out are kind of a reflection of what I’m feeling, although it’s only one facet. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy being a DJ, I think that’s also a reflection of a generational moment. For me, the idea of songs being these singular static things that invoke an emotion or event or something that could be recreated, for me that’s just impossible and a bit dated. When I listen to a song, I think of the song in terms of all the tempos that it can be mixed with, and all the different ways that it can create different emotions."