A set by Thai DJ Mae Happyair can take you on a trip full of valleys and peaks through rough deserts and harsh icescapes. She rarely sticks to a particular genre but ties it all together with themes and narratives. It’s dusky and damaged; techy but steadily shifting; experimental with immersive rhythms. You can feel the care poured into the selection and arrangement. And she infuses this same attention to detail into her Non Non Non parties, which were created to bring together the music-loving LGBTQ community in Bangkok.
Mae started Non Non Non because she never felt at home anywhere and wanted to create something for others who felt the same. “There’s never really been any fixed rules, it’s a space where I can express my imagination,” she says. “But I put a lot of effort into giving the party an identity. This way people know what to expect.” Like her DJ sets, you can be sure to hear a variety of styles that fall within the same vibe. It’s a lot of fast music with genres like bass music, techno, industrial, experimental trance, gabber, and more.
Things took a while to catch on though. “It used to be difficult to find a space to hold our event, especially because we because it’s a queer party,” Mae says. When they did find a spot, the venues would give them weekdays, which they felt was really unfair. So she put her head down and really focused on the quality. “Music is number one. Every DJ has strong mixing skills. Our people come to dance.” Now, they have no problems finding spaces for whatever day they like.
Venues these days even cooperate with the Non Non Non safe-space policy as well. “People come to take advantage our space, but we spent a lot of time nurturing this and will ban them permanently if they try,” Mae states flatly. The parties always have a basic security team of four people—including Mae herself—who do regular checks and rounds around the event. She says most partygoers are aware of the simple rules they have in place and appreciate them.
Mae comes from a musical family. “I grew up surrounded with music from morning until bedtime,” she says. Her mother was in a molam band and she has other family still involved in the Isan music scene. But she had to learn how to DJ on her own. “People always teased me for standing directly in front of the DJ booth, where I stood so I could watch them closely.” But she hopes to encourage others like her and started started a DJ workshop during COVID for women and non-binary people so they don’t have to learn all alone.
“I’m not great at socializing, so the school has been a great way to meet people,” Mae says. “I was able to get to know people up close and personal. An exchange happened and a community was born out of it. It really helped our parties, too. People were very confused about what our vision was at first, but now they really get it.” Sometimes paying it forward is a great investment.