'The Dancefloor’ by Kai-Isaiah Jamal: A spoken word ode to queer spaces

A photo booth film strip

We invited the ICA’s first poet-in-residence down to 180 House to perform and record their poem

Kai-Isaiah Jamal has been booked and busy this year. As well as featuring on the covers of i-D, Wonderland and 10 Magazine, the 25-year-old has appeared in campaigns for the likes of Louis Vuitton for Virgil Abloh, Vivienne Westwood, and Calvin Klein. 

Currently working on their forthcoming anthology, we invited Jamal down to 180 House to perform and record their poem ‘The Dancefloor’ – a love letter to all dancefloors; and the refuge, freedom and joy they provide for the LGBTQIA+ community.

‘Dancefloors in queer-centred and prioritised, intentional spaces can sometimes be the only places where we’re allowed to be ourselves in unison,’ Jamal tells us. ‘It’s a place where we feel relatively safe, [which is] a huge privilege that many aren’t afforded.’ 

Reflecting on queer-specific spaces, we ask Jamal what Pride means to them. ‘To me, Pride is a celebration. It’s an applaud and acknowledgement of those who paved the way before us. I also think it’s a hand-holding moment for us in the present.’ They add, ‘I think it’s always and forever. I think it’s everything, every day, every minute, and every moment for so many of us.’

With a majority of dancefloors set to reopen in the forthcoming months, we ask Jamal which one they’re most excited to return to. ‘In the poem, I talk about anywhere being a dancefloor. So, in that case, wherever my feet first stumble. But probably anywhere my best friend Jordss is playing.’

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