TW: This article discusses topics of a sexual nature, mentions of sexual assault & r*pe.
It may seem the stuff of myth, lore or hetero-centred fantasies (name me a mainstream film that has a sex scene catered to the female gaze or even depicts a realistic representation of sex), but gatherings centred around sexual exploration have been a feature of society since the dawn of humanity. From ancient mushroom ceremonies to Greeks and Romans, to the Summer of Love and present-day Berlin… It’s always been there if you peek underneath the covers. The issue with mainstream depictions of kink is that the exploration of sexuality is promoted without clearly showing how to create safe boundaries or navigate the real worlds of fetish and sex parties (50 Shades of Grey, 365 Days and PornHub…). This is where Crossbreed comes in. I spoke to Alex, also known as Kiwi, a DJ, producer and the founder of Crossbreed, a new fetish rave that hopes to shake up London’s sex and nightlife scenes with a core focus on consent, diversity, and good old-fashioned fun.
Kiwi first started DJing whilst studying at university, and his hobby organically developed into a job that married his love for music with a passion for nightlife. Today he is a producer and DJ, living in London. DJing allowed Kiwi to travel the world and his interest in fetish raves was piqued by the club scene of Berlin. This, combined with the opportunity of a newly open relationship with an ex-girlfriend, led Kiwi to start exploring the online communities of sex and kink. He laughingly tells me, “I was like, “I need to find out how I get to an orgy”.” Although he didn’t find that immediately, he did find FetLife, a social network for the BDSM, fetish and kink community.
Kiwi was struggling with trusting men at the time, after the traumatic experience of finding out that one of his closest friends had raped someone, a situation that had been mirrored in other relationships in his life. “When I started meeting men that understood consent and were growing and changing their understanding of sexuality, it was quite refreshing.” He describes his entry into the world of fetish and kink as transformative, telling me, “What I ended up finding was this really warm, welcoming group of people that had this amazing understanding of consent, that were negotiating sex as part of their norm. It’s important to know that it’s not just all about having ‘weird’ sex. It’s completely changed my life for the better.”
Far from the stereotypical assumption of secretive swinging, demonic cults, and emotionless promiscuity, the fetish community offered Kiwi (and many others) a safe space to meet new people and have cathartic discussions around sensitive and emotive topics like sexual assault, fidelity, gender expression and sexual experimentation. “I’ve never met any other group of people that are so open-minded, accepting, warm, loving and conscious, and I made a whole new bunch of friends, and that meant an awful lot to me. I didn’t go to my first party for maybe seven or eight months after that - I really just fell in love with the people.”
"...the fetish community offered Kiwi (and many others) a safe space to meet new people and have cathartic discussions around sensitive and emotive topics like sexual assault, fidelity, gender expression and sexual experimentation."
When Kiwi started going to fetish parties in London, he felt something was missing. Thus the idea for Crossbreed was born. “The dance music scene and the fetish scene in Berlin go hand in hand and it’s very queer, whereas in London they’re very separate worlds. I wanted to bridge the gap in London between a fetish rave and a really good queer party.”
Of course, creating a new party from scratch is a feat in itself, let alone a party where basically anything can happen. Every element of Crossbreed has evidently been thoroughly considered. “Going to a fetish party for the first time can be quite scary for anyone, so for me, it’s been really important to curate a feeling of familiarity,” Kiwi explains, telling how the team fosters this by using venues that partygoers will likely have previously visited and booking DJs that people know and love. He cites this as a way of creating a less pressured space for everyone, no matter what they want to experience - you can attend Crossbreed to get hot ‘n heavy on the dancefloor or off it.
Leaning into the territory of the unfamiliar, the party also pushes attendees to dive into their creativity with a strict dress code. In a move that is emblematic of the foundational core of Crossbreed, the entry requirements are a world away from the mythologised door policies of infamous venues like Berghain or Torture Garden, which, although unconfirmed, seem to be optically steeped in exclusion - kink crowds tend to be compromised of the majority skinny, white and wealthy. Crossbreed aims to be as inclusive as possible, on one condition – You have to dress the part. “If you can get the bus and not have every single person stare at you with a “what the fuck” look on their face, you won’t get in.”
This focus on inclusivity goes beyond the surface. “It takes a lot of privilege to get to a space where you feel safe to explore, and if you’re brought up in a background that isn’t so liberal it can be a lot harder to get to there. There are all sorts of issues around BIPOC being fetishized, it was really highlighted by BLM. We’ve been doing a lot of work on that, with workshops and education and anti-racism work. Crossbreed is anti-racist and anti-police, and very political in that sense. We centre that in everything that we do.”
I ask what to expect from a Crossbreed party, and Kiwi bluntly puts it, “it’s a filthy rave in a nightclub”. He goes on to explain that there is a degree of regulation – one that’s in keeping with the pillars of trust and autonomy that Crossbreed believes in fostering. There is a wellness sanctuary (for “if you’re a little bit too fucked”) and a team that keeps an eye out for anyone being creepy or predatory (“It’s not a space to cruise for someone to fuck.”). Something else that makes Crossbreed special in that it centres BIPOC, trans people, and bisexual people. “There’s a huge amount of people who are overlooked because of gender norms and societal conditioning, and bisexuals who end up sat in their heteronormative bubbles, so we try to centre a space for bi people to explore their identity outside of that bubble. In my experience, the gay scene can be exclusionary of that.”
A touchstone that we continually return to throughout the conversation is the importance of consent. Kiwi makes it clear that this is vital when navigating sexual exploration, and explains why he believes it should be adopted and taught in all relationships and interactions. “Consent is something we should be teaching in nursery schools. If we were to arm children with those tools, we could stop a huge amount of abuse, specifically sexual abuse… They would have power and autonomy in their choices and more tools to express concerns for their safety. Hiding them from this big, bad world of sex is actually causing them much more harm.”
"If we were to arm children with those tools, we could stop a huge amount of abuse, specifically sexual abuse… They would have power and autonomy in their choices and more tools to express concerns for their safety. Hiding them from this big, bad world of sex is actually causing them much more harm.”"
Despite my wanting to display the powerful intersectionality that Crossbreed is using sex and music to negotiate, Kiwi does remind me that it’s a space for kink and that this can be simultaneously sexy, fun and deeply personal. “For some people, it is about reclaiming their right to consent. For example, people who have experienced sexual assault or trauma may have fantasies around that and coming to terms with that being a part of your sexuality is quite a journey. Your kinks are your own and they’re valid, no matter what you’ve gone through to have them. We all have a right to pleasure and freedom to explore and own our sexuality, whatever that is. As long as it’s consensual and negotiated and not causing harms to others, it’s valid and it’s good and you should celebrate it and feel comfortable celebrating it without stigma or shame.”
Despite the hedonistic pleasure we get from taking drink and drugs, having healthy sex, and dancing all night, the reason I wanted to interview Kiwi and write about Crossbreed is to remind us all of the importance of these spaces and how our relationships with our bodies, our sexual and physical identities, and our exploration of freedom are intrinsically linked to how we operate in our day-to-day lives and within society as a whole. “It’s not just about physical contact, it’s not just about sex. It’s about negotiating your relationships and the way you speak to people and the way you hold space and the way you create space for people. I think, really, we’re just trying to create great spaces for people to explore who they want to be without all these social ideas and pressures.” I, for one, can’t wait to experience the kinky, loved-filled world of Crossbreed.
For more information on Crossbreed, please visit www.crossbreedworld.com or @crossbreedworld.