Lemon Lab: Urban Culture for Open Minds

You’re gay. And you’re in Santiago.

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy icanteachyouhowtodoit, Flickr

You’re bored with the foreigner-favorite hot-spots in Bellavista, or maybe they’re just not you’re style, and you’re looking for something that’s more your “taste.”

Santiago Chile

Unfortunately, your options for nightlife and other activities labeled “homosexual” are slim.

Luckily for you, there exists LemonLab, a discreet network of open-mind individuals dedicated to promoting “urban culture.”

For LemonLab, a collective of parties, clothing stores and music outlets, “urban culture” means providing quality events and outlets to Santiago’s gay and open-minded populations.

“LemonLab was born as an answer to those who wanted an alternative to the eternal monopoly of the gay nighttime,” said LemonLab’s creator Javier Rojas*.

Rojas explained that until very recently, there was a level of “homeostasis” within the gay club and party scene in Santiago.

“The parties that existed shared their dates without competing,” he said.

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy icanteachyouhowtodoit, Flickr

“So every party got worse in terms of quality because the organizers already knew they would make money.”

“The goal is to promote a distinct concept of homosexuality, more stylized and compatible with heterosexual activities like expositions, theater and other parties that don’t define themselves by gender,” said Rojas. “It’s not this gay with garish colors and flamboyant sexuality.”

LemonLab and its partners distinguish between a “party” and a “club.”

One of LemonLab’s organizers Matias Ly Martel said that the collective tends to promote Santiago “parties,” or events that don’t have a fixed location.

“The idea is that the party isn’t a place, but an event,” said Martel. “We don’t want to associate the name of the party with a specific place. If we did that, we’d be like a lot of the clubs that already exist. Plus, the gay public always demands innovation.”
Martel also helps to organize ROMA, a gay party partnered with LemonLab.

Santiago Chile

At the moment, LemonLab collaborates with and promotes four parties and one clothing store: ROMA, Play House, Cal in the Middle, COOLective and Snog, respectively.

ROMA is labeled as a “gay” party while Play House is a thematic party open to a “diverse” public, gay people and straight people alike.

COOLective is an “open-mind” party, targeting the hetero party-goers but also welcoming the gay public.

LemonLab produces Cal in the Middle, a party held every Wednesdays at Espaciocal in Vitacura. Martel said that with this party, LemonLab wanted to offer an outlet during the week instead of just having events on the weekends.

Snog is an online clothing store based in Santiago that finds new and interesting clothes from abroad and sells them here in Chile. Some of their selection is also Chilean.

Santiago Chile

Rojas said that ROMA is very focused on delivering good music to the people who go to it.

“ROMA has a touch of gay, without falling into the clichés like Lady Gaga or Britney Spears,” he said. “The idea of this party is to establish a stylized concept of ‘gay,’ being less massive where people can feel comfortable… and have a good time in interesting, new venues.”

In contrast, COOlective maintains an electropop-indie personality while also featuring various events throughout the party. Rojas mentioned a photo shoot with well-known Santiago models and also a live show by Argentine singer Pablo Ruiz as examples.
Australian exchange student Tom Winter* went to ROMA as his induction to Lemon Lab.

“I felt very welcome as a foreigner and managed to have conversations in both English and Spanish with a number of the people there.”

Winter, a self-described “electro-boy,” was a little turned off by the amount of pop music played, but still said that he would go back. “I would recommend it to other gay foreigners and probably to any foreigner up for a good dance,” he said.

Rojas said that LemonLab wants to bring together various projects that, besides being places for social interaction, integrate cultural elements, given the open-mind context.

“In that sense, LemonLab is ready to … give foreigners the opportunity to participate in our events, and also to collaborate with us, providing their experiences and distinct elements,” he said.

Check out http://www.lemonlab.cl for all of Lemon Lab’s events and links to their partner’s pages. You can also find them on Facebook.

Cal in the Middle
Every Wednesday
Candelaria Goyenechea 3820, Vitacura, Santiago

http://www.lemonlab.cl

*Some names have been changed, upon request, to protect the identities of people involved with Lemon Lab.

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