Leilah Weinraub’s debut feature SHAKEDOWN takes us inside a biweekly party at a Los Angeles club, founded by and for black queer women and featuring strips shows and explicit dancing. The Shakedown party was one of the few spaces where lesbian subcultures could flourish, being as much about the network that formed around it as it was about the economy that supported its organisers, performers and costume makers. The party ran for eight years before it was shut down by police.
SHAKEDOWN is an intimate portrait of this community, anchored in the stories of four of its protagonists: Ronnie Ron, the butch creator and emcee of Shakedown; Mahogany, the legendary mother of the scene; Egypt, a single mother, beauty pageant fanatic and dedicated self-(re)inventor; and Jazmyne, the complicated and sometimes conflicted ‘queen’ of Shakedown.
Composed over a period of fifteen years, Weinraub’s film weaves together the footage she shot backstage and on the dance floor; interviews with participants, security guards and dancers’ children; and archival materials. Its score is composed by Tim Dewit, a drummer and producer who goes by the alias Dutch E Germ and co-founded the band Gang Gang Dance.
‘The story functions as a legend where money is both myth and material, cumulatively questioning how to diagram a utopian moment.’ —Leilah Weinraub
Introduction by the curators
Leilah Weinraub, SHAKEDOWN, United States 2018, DCP, colour, sound, 82 min
This screening is rated 18+, and contains sexually explicit scenes
Leilah Weinraub (b.1979, United States) is an artist and director living in New York. She was mentored by director Tony Kaye before enrolling in an MFA in Film at Bard College. Her films document unacknowledged tastemakers, particularly those belonging to queer, autonomous communities of colour whose creative output is often plundered by mass culture but whose stories are rarely told on their own terms. Her work was recently included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial. Weinraub is also the CEO of Hood By Air, a New York-based fashion collective that radicalised the industry by championing a rising class of consumers who subvert traditional markers of race, class and gender.