It was a great time and a terrible time to be queer in London. Thatcher… that was a common enemy. — Debbie, in Rebel Dykes
REBEL DYKES is a terrific documentary about the large cohort of pre-Riot Grrrl BDSM lesbians who carved out spaces of action, creativity, and pleasure in Great Britain in the 1980s and ’90s.
Interviews, vintage footage and photographs, and innovative animation take us to the “lesbian houses,” the marches and sites of protest (such as the Greenham Women’s Peace Camp), and, of course, the clubs: Sistermatic—run by four Black women—and The Bell in King’s Cross, the only “truly mixed” gay and lesbian bar, where Sinéad O’Connor came through and picked up style tips. Then there was Chain Reaction, a BDSM club-cum-cabaret that, rare for its time, was also comparatively trans-inclusive. (The club also drew fire from feminist groups opposed to “violence.”)
We really needed to reclaim space then. Everything seemed to be owned by the patriarchy. And I was a separatist then. I wouldn’t even have a male cat. — Fisch, in Rebel Dykes
REBEL DYKES is screening online as part of this year’s NewFest Pride. See link below.
Directed by Harri Shanahan and Siân A. Williams.
NewFest Pride 2021
Rebel Dykes images courtesy of Riot Productions. Photograph below © Della Grace.