Irina Groushevaia

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Shenise Ramirez and HotBox Mobile Sauna collaborated to create a safe and inclusive space for self-care and creative expression for queer, trans and non-binary people of color, all on the grounds of Nowadays, this Thursday night from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

It all started when Ramirez, event organizer and creator of Ecokiki, joined a Sweat Sanctuary event at the mobile sauna, a queer shvitz at discounted rates, to have a healing experience with their partner. However, a big sweaty question came up: would it be possible to create an event for queer, non-binary, or trans people of color?

Ramirez explained, “Alternative modes of healing are not accessible to people of color, especially trans and queer people of color.”

Ecokiki is a queer eco-feminist community and platform for radical QTPoC who dream of sustainable futures. Ecokiki aims to fuel resistance by decolonizing self-care and connecting QTPoC to various modes of healing, while providing a safe space for artistic expression.

In conversation with HotBox, the creative explained that to make such an event possible it had to be through direct collaboration with QTBIPoC. Thus, Heated Conversations was born. The folks at HotBox gave the Ecokiki team full creative control of the event, allowing to assemble QTBIPoC poets, artists and vendors to make this magical event a reality within a few short weeks. 

Modern culture had created self-care as a capitalist and whitewashed commodity, not opening the circle of healing for those who need it most.

“A lot of us have never stepped foot in a sauna or spa because it’s expensive and exclusionary,” said Ramirez. “It also forces QTBIPoC to deal with the unsettling prospect of having a queer or trans brown body in a mostly white, cis-het space, which can be dysphoric and scary.”

Nowadays: Heated Yurt and Mobile Sauna. Photo courtesy of HotBox.

Ramirez aims to create a space that is inclusive and affordable, but most importantly, “There’s a great need to heal in community with those with similar experiences, to be in a space where we don’t have to explain our struggles or lifestyles to inquiring privileged folk, a place where we can feel understood and safe. A place that allows us to share our art and reinvigorate our resistance to the many systems that harm us.”

In collaboration with a queer healing space, Ramirez hopes this event will create a space for decompression and show that the QTBIPoC community has each other’s backs.

Expect performances by poets, artists and writers, as well as vendors, like vegan cupcakes by Sweets on Lo, eco-fashion by The Raga Closet and handmade stationary by Cards by De.

Through art and performance, the organizers want to uplift their community through support. “We want people to bring the selves they often hide from the world as an act of self-protection,” said Ramirez. “We want creators to present a craft that we can uplift and celebrate. But most of all, we want people to take with them a life-giving force that encourages them to thrive.”

Tickets are $15 for Jan. 24, from 8 to 11 p.m. and can be purchased here. 

This includes access to the sweat lodge, fire pits, and an outdoor shower to cool off. The sauna can accommodate 8-10 people at a time is kept at a toasty 180 degrees. 

Nowadays is located at 56-06 Cooper Ave, Ridgewood, NY 11385

Cover photo courtesy of HotBox.

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