From 6pm to 10pm this Saturday, Break the Chains will host another dance party at Make Shift Boston. Bonfire Madigan Shive will perform hits from records released on Kill Rock Stars and K Records, after the crowd hears music from Anjimile, Myriam Ortiz, The Best Ever, JoRa, and a secret guest.
Break the Chains is Boston’s all ages, all gender, all genre queer dance party, meant to offer attendees liberation and hope. Founder Evan Greer is a staple here in Boston’s music community, but the semi-monthly event, which has been essential for years now, never would have existed if it weren’t for this weekend’s headlining musical act.
Bonfire Madigan has deep ties to the series, though. The riot-grrrl legend, cellist, singer, and activist helped pave the way for the strong underground queer, feminist, radical music scene that we have today. As such, Greer wanted to throw a show for her in Boston, so several years back she booked her at a co-op house in Jamaica Plain and turned it into a dance party to reach a broader audience. The title? Break the Chains.
“Break the Chains is a radical answer to the co-optation and exploitation of our queer culture by corporations, politicians, and hierarchical organizations that claim to represent us,” Greer says. “I try to infuse that spirit of creating alternatives into every aspect of the party, from ensuring that it’s all ages and wheelchair accessible every time, to prioritizing booking queer artists of color and other marginalized performers and making sure they get paid real wages, not just gas money. It’s always a work in progress, trying to make it as awesome of a space as it can be. I’m grateful for all the help I get, and the feedback from both audience members and performers. Physical space for alternative events is always a challenge in rapidly gentrifying Boston, but that’s not an excuse for making the vast majority of our queer events inaccessible to many members of our community.”
The series wins you over from the first moment you step foot in the room. Greer—who’s always on the lookout for local musicians, DJs, dancers, poets, and artists—encourages interested folks to get in touch via email to keep the all-volunteer series alive and well. To get a taste of what you’d be signing up for, show up on time for this Saturday’s show—especially because attendees get an extra special treat: the chance to be included in a music video shoot for a song off Greer’s upcoming full-length. “The details of the video are top secret, but… I’ll be playing a rare set with a full band similar to the instrumentation on the album. It’s a project I’ve been working on since before my kid was born almost 7 years ago,” she says. “Rest assured, the video will feature sequins, glitter, and queer rebellion.”
Break the Chains recently won the Improper Bostonian’s Boston’s Best award for Dance Party Starter. It’s one of many nods of recognition to the dedication and passion Greer’s churned out continually to give Boston the dance series it needs. This Saturday’s party is a special moment for the series because its origins come full circle. It’s a reminder of why it all began — and that honor isn’t lost on Greer.
“I organize Break the Chains as a way of giving back to the Boston queer and activist communities that have given me so much support as a trans musician and organizer. I love standing on the balcony looking down at everyone dancing, or hanging on a performer’s lyrics, or chatting and enjoying themselves, and it gives me life and strength to keep fighting for the things I believe in,” she says. “Break the Chains has no corporate sponsorship or any formal backing, so it’s an honor to see it recognized through Boston’s Best. Mostly I’m just so grateful for the support of my queer community, to all the volunteers and the people who show up month after month. Together we’ve created something really special.”
BONFIRE MADIGAN SHIVE, ANJIMILE, MYRIAM ORTIZ, THE BEST EVER, JORA. SAT 7.8. MAKE SHIFT BOSTON, 549 COLUMBUS AVE, BOSTON. 6PM/ALL AGES/$10-20.