I originally published this piece here on CVNTY last week, but it was picked up by The Quietus, so removed, editted ever so slightly (mostly a new intro to give context) and re-published on their site. So here it is again:
My name is Niall Connolly, aka The Niallist, and I am a UK-based
music producer, DJ and writer. In the past I have released my music
through some notable labels (Dissident, Eskimo/Radius, Lo Recordings)
but am now channeling all my efforts into the alias CUNT TRAXXX, aka
CVNT is directly inspired by the American ballroom/vogue scene, and
in particular artists like Vjuan Allure, Kevin Prodigy, Divoli S'Vere
and MIkeQ, and also very much by the dancers themselves. The word "cunt"
is used frequently in ball culture, as a very positive term, the subtle
difference being it is an adjective and not a noun. Its connotations of
femininity, superiority and unique style are why I have chosen to use
it, and I have just released my fourth EP as CVNT, the Statement EP, through the Belgian label Body Work. Apart from making music and DJing, I write about vogue culture and music at my blog CVNTY.
Post-Miley Cyrus, and amidst the raging debate about "cultural
appropriation", a lot of pertinent issues are being ignored in a rush to
paint everything as either "good" or "bad", "acceptable" or
"unacceptable". I don't believe this extreme polarity is doing anyone
any favours, especially when it is adopted by people who do not have
sufficient knowledge of a culture to actually decide what is or isn't
acceptable, which is what happened to me very recently.
It had to happen sometime I guess: I have been accused of "cultural appropriation" of the voguing/ballroom scene.
The OP, Angus Finlayson, has since been in touch with me to apologise,
and to admit that he was mistaken in his original accusations. I have
accepted his apology, but have decided to write about this because it
raises some very interesting issues, elements that are only a small part
of the overall "cultural appropriation" story, but which should be
Firstly, this is not to deny that cultural appropriation happens, or
even that I am completely guilt-free myself. No, I am not a Black or
Latino/a or from a major city on either of America's East or West
coasts. I am a white, able-bodied cismale, living in Manchester,
England, though I am an Irish national (not to be confused with
"Irish-American" or "Irish-anything else" - as a culture we Irish have
our own pretty huge history of appropriation by others).
Cultural appropriation definitely happens. There has been a lot of
discussion on social networks over the last few weeks about the "masked
DJ" craze in Jersey Club, a perceived "cashing-in" on this relatively
new, localised US scene by anonymous, white acts like Yolo Bear, DJ
Hoodboi, Trippy Turtle and more, some of whom are from Europe. This
debate was sparked by a Facebook post by Dirty South Joe,
and has been raging steadily since, with some originators of the Jersey
Club sound rightly apprehensive of having their hard work ignored in
favour of anonymous Johnny-come-latelys not from their world hoovering
up their gigs and hype. I am guessing that this ongoing discussion was
in the background when Finlayson wrote his original tweet.
So no, this isn't to deny cultural appropriation, but to ask for a
more nuanced, less knee-jerk approach to the term when required, and
also to question the credentials of the people claiming cultural
appropriation, where necessary. Of course, it seems obvious to me that
this sort of logic should be applied to every and all accusations of
cultural hegemony and discrimination (which, in itself, might be a
luxury of my own white privilege) but right now the term "cultural
appropriation" is in danger of being appropriated and used to police
culture by people who actually have no qualifications, or right, to do
So what are my qualifications?
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