There are many types of resistance — sometimes it even takes the form of a dance party. Hex, a local bimonthly, inclusive event, raises money for organizations working for justice. “It’s just such a simple formula,” explains Evan, one of the organizers, who, like the rest of the Hex team, goes by her first name only. “Proceeds go to an organization, we bring on DJs who people love to dance to, and everyone comes.”
The next Hex is Friday, Dec. 21 — the winter solstice — at The Mothlight. The evening will feature DJ Malinali, DJ Lex and DJ Audio, and benefits the Carolina Abortion Fund.
With intentionality about creating a fun and comfortable space for people of all identities, Hex consistently attracts enthusiastic, sold-out crowds. When asked about the name, Evan explains, “Our collective efforts coming together in a safe space are collectively casting a ‘hex’ against the forces that seek to oppress us.”
The seed for Hex was planted after the 2016 presidential election. One of Donald Trump’s first actions on taking office was to cut funding for groups like Our VOICE, a local agency that addresses sexual violence. “That sent me over the edge,” Evan says, “because they’re amazing, and I’m superpassionate about their work.”
Rather than being immobilized by anger, Evan and a group of friends responded by organizing a fundraiser for Our VOICE — the first Hex — which was held at The Mothlight in April 2017. “We did all of these things that we knew would make a lot of people want to come, like have DJ Malinali, who everyone loves, and hold it at an accessible location,” she says. “And it just worked out perfectly.”
Along with Evan, Hex’s all-volunteer organizing team includes Cameron, Gray, Keara, Frankie, Alison, MT and Andrew. They meet weekly to strategize and plan. “We decide on the DJs together,” says Evan. “We have DJ Malinali every time, and the other two DJs are rotating. We don’t want to have an all-male lineup … and we want to raise up women of color, trans and gender nonconforming DJs as much as possible.”
The team also decides on the beneficiaries of the funds raised, choosing from organizations based in Western North Carolina that work with threatened or marginalized populations. Past beneficiaries have included Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción, Southside Gardens, Tranzmission Prison Project, WNC Sanctuary, Girls Rock Asheville Camp and Steady Collective.
This month’s beneficiary, the Carolina Abortion Fund, raises money to provide the procedures for women who otherwise might not be able to afford them, as well as providing transportation to appointments. “The work that they do is superimportant, especially at a time when people’s abortion rights and bodily rights are being stripped away, left and right,” says Evan. “I know the money that we raise for them will directly benefit individuals, which just feels really important and special, especially during this crazy time.”
While Hex offers an evening of revelry, it also lifts the groups it’s supporting and the issues they face. “Our goal is for everyone there to know what’s being benefited,” Evan says. “Of course, not everyone does — some people think they are just coming to a party — but we try to make it really clear that this is a benefit. … I think that bringing that level of awareness into a party space is challenging norms.”
Another thing that sets Hex apart from other parties is the organizers’ explicit focus on making it a safe space. “We have all been partygoers for a long time and have seen how unsafe a lot of the party spaces are in Asheville and just everywhere because that’s what parties tend to be,” says Evan. In creating a safe space, “we want the queer community to feel at home there, as well as the Latinx community, people of color, older people.”
She continues, “Some of the ways we try to make it as safe of a space as possible is being really explicit about that online. We make a lot of posts on Instagram about how we have a zero-tolerance policy, and how anyone can approach us for anything at any time. If something comes up, we are very comfortable asking people to leave.” There’s also a sign posted right inside the door of the venue where Hex is held that lists everything not tolerated: “No racism, no sexism, no homophobia, no transphobia, etc.,” Evan says.
Evan hopes others will follow Hex’s lead in being a light in a time of repression. “We want people to take this idea and run with it,” she says of Hex’s recipe for fundraising. “We want people to throw other parties exactly like it. We don’t hold any ownership of the formula. We want other people to do the exact same thing because it works so well.”
WHAT: Hex, featuring DJ Malinali, DJ Lex and DJ Audio
WHERE: The Mothlight, 701 Haywood Road, themothlight.com
WHEN: Friday, Dec. 21, 9 p.m. $5