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Byron Shire
November 29, 2022

Lismore gets ready for a queer New Year

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DJ Kam Shafaati
DJ Kam Shafaati

Interstate and international travellers are pouring into Lismore in cars and campervans in anticipation of the nation’s premier gay and lesbian New Years Eve event, the Tropical Fruits dance party at Lismore Showgrounds.

With three big dance arenas, a smaller cabaret space, an art gallery and various chill-out zones, not to mention a ringside seat to Lismore’s New Years Eve fireworks, the punters are in for a big night.

The theme for this year’s 25th anniversary event is Rainbow Circus and expectations are naturally high.

One DJ who is sure to live up to those expectations is Melbourne’s Kam Shafaati, who will kick off the night in the dark ’n’ dirty Trade arena.

He spoke to Chris Dobney on the eve of his fourth successive Tropical Fruits.

What got you into DJing? How did you start and what were your interests?

I’ve loved music in general since I was really young. I got into dance music in my later teens and would share a lot of music with friends and always wanted to DJ but thought it was out of reach. Then one day I just decided to buy the equipment and play in my bedroom.

At 21 I ended up playing at a friend’s birthday and the owners of [Melbourne gay pub] The Laird happened to be there. They really liked what I was playing. They offered for me to come and play there as a trial and I’m still playing there to this day.

I love it because it’s like a second home to me; they’re like a family and all my friends are there. They’re very welcoming of intricate, different styles of music. I think sometimes the gay community can be a little limited.

I’m not a DJ with one particular sound. I like a lot of different styles and feels, and it’s a good place to express that.

While doing [the Laird gig] I was doing my own podcasts and again showing that I’ve got various sounds.

So how would you describe your sound?

Aah, everything I play has a progression to it, a lot of melodies and drive underneath and sort of complementing vocals that go with it. It’s something that pulls at your emotions, whether it takes you up, whether it brings you down, whether it makes you horny… helps you through a tough time.

I’ve had people who’ve felt all this sort of stuff through the podcasts and it’s what empowers me to keep making them. It’s one thing to connect with people on a dance floor; it’s another to be able to connect with them in their lives. And it’s crazy how it does.

Are most of your gigs at gay events?

I’ve played straight ones but mostly gay ones. I love and am proud of our community and it’s nice to be plugged in. I think in the straight scene it’s a lot harder to create an identity. But to be able to play to a community and to refine your sound and get that feedback and that ongoing engagement – you growing with the community – that’s what makes for a really nice experience as a gay DJ.

You learn a hell of a lot playing and I’ve been fortunate enough to play all around Australia, New Zealand and North America.

You talked about doing parties. You’ve come up with a few party ideas yourself, haven’t you?

Yeah, my partner Aurelius and I started our own production company, Thick and Juicy, at the beginning of the year and we’ve thrown three parties – and sold out every single time.

I think we tried to bring something fresh and new. We wanted something that was masculine but still very in touch with its feminine side – and that’s something a lot of Melbourne guys don’t get to experience very often.

The parties are themed. People can come and be as crazy and obnoxious as they like – and be praised for it. Each time there’s a different theme; people dress up and they really love the concept.

Are you able to give any clues about your New Years Eve set?

I’m going to be playing in the Trade arena, with Feisty and Lady K. I’m doing the nine till midnight slot. And it’s a wonderful gig. I did the same one in the main arena two years ago and because it’s New Years Eve they just poured in (early) and it went off almost instantly. So it will be really good to do that and then duck out and enjoy the fireworks.

Trade is traditionally known as the darker, sexier room. So, as far as my darker sound goes, my drive is to show that dark can be euphoric, uplifting and happy, while still being a deeper and sexier sound. So it’s going to be high energy, lots of layers, lots of rolling basses, very sexy and lots of sexy vocals.

Online ticket sales for Tropical Fruits’ Rainbow Circus New Years Eve dance party have now closed. Tickets are available at Lismore Showground until 11.30pm (or until sold out) on December 31, so be sure to be there early to avoid missing out! People who have pre-purchased tickets must collect their entry armbands before 11.30pm.

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