Self-Love Conquers All

Social Justice Days Offers Alternatives to V-Day

Photo Shaun Michaud
Photo Shaun Michaud
Photo Shaun Michaud

For the third straight year, the co-op Café L’Artère hosted the Self-Love Cabaret: l’amour se conjugue à la première personne, a show designed to challenge the consumerist auspices of Valentine’s Day.

Presented as part of QPIRG-McGill’s event series Social Justice Days, the show, held last Saturday evening, was an anti-V-Day artistic manifesto, a celebration of oneself and the love for oneself, as opposed to marketed coupledom.

“We celebrate ourselves instead of somebody else,” said Kama La Mackerel, curator and founder of the event.

This year’s show featured six artists of colour expressing their understanding of self-love in regards to race, gender and decolonization. Featuring bluesy singer Elena Stoodley, spoken-word poet Lady Sin Trayda, belly dancer Nada Khashaba, performance artists Kim Ninkuru and Winnie SuperHova and bombshell Malek El Hayja, the show attracted a tide of self-lovers.

Originally from Mauritius, La Mackerel herself delivered a spoken-word performance about the loss of gender through colonial history, and the reclaiming of the term zomfam—man-woman. She received a standing ovation.

“A lot of people felt nurtured by the show,” she said. “It made them think differently about how they care for themselves.”

The performers at this year’s Self-Love Cabaret didn’t all receive formal art education. La Mackerel said she picked them because she was “smitten by the quality of their work.”

Photo Shaun Michaud

“These are grassroots artists with different narratives and ways to transmit their experiences,” she said.

It served as a unique spot where minority artists expressed their feelings towards the insidious burdens they carry in modern society.

La Mackerel was pleased with the outcome.

“I got to create a space for artists of colour to perform,” said the curator. “So for me it was very successful.”

No stranger to hosting events, she holds the monthly open mic GENDER B(L)ENDER.

“It’s a queer open space where people who aren’t necessarily trained artists can come perform without the fear of being judged,” she said. “Instead, we are supportive of artistic work. It’s a queer space but it’s also open to anyone.”

She said that all the profits of Self-Love Cabaret went to pay the performers and rent the venue.

La Mackerel said she hopes the show will go on.

“If I’m still doing well, I would love to do it again,” she said. “Same time, same place.”