Into the Night by Joy Bomer – Part I, Meet Beka & Ayla

Through the eyes of eight individuals ‘Into the Night’ investigates the role of nightlife as a departure point for personal exploration. All deeply embedded within the queer club community, each of the portrayed characters recounts their involvement with this subculture and reflect on how these experiences came to be influential in their outlook on life.

In this interview + photography series the queer nightlife scene is perceived as a vital site of interpersonal experimentation; a place where those who are unable to connect with and/or conform to societal standards can find acceptance and encouragement. Shot during pre-Covid times, the series only underlines the necessity for the now largely absent club culture even more. It serves as a reminder of the things we can find on sweaty dancefloors.


I’m Beka, I’m 23 years old. Originally I’m from Georgia. Right now I live in Amsterdam. I work as a chef at a Georgian restaurant. When it comes to nightlife I love to go queer techno raves. I like the more ‘underground’ clubs, raves & parties as opposed to mainstream options. I first came into contact with the nightlife scene through friends when I was about 16 years old, which was back in Georgia. Later in Amsterdam, I got into contact with nightlife through my boyfriend and other friends.

What does freedom mean to you?
 And how does the nightlife contribute to this?

Freedom is everything to me! It’s the reason behind my move to the Netherlands; I couldn’t find the freedom I was looking for back in Georgia. I get the idea that people here seem to think that Georgia, and especially Tbilisi, is a very free place but in reality, it is extremely traditional and deeply religious. As such, especially with regards to lgbtq+ concerns, there isn’t much room for acceptance in the general public. Only within the techno clubs, I saw a great quality of freedom. This is why I always like to go to these sorts of parties and why I generally avoid the more mainstream clubs. In techno clubs, I can truly be who I want to be and express how I feel without any fears.

What are your views on the connection between gender, sexuality, and nightlife?
I believe 100% that between the topics of gender, sexuality, and nightlife the connecting line is that nightclubs –and especially techno clubs– help us to develop and express who we truly are and how we feel everything. There are no moments of fear in the club. This enables you to show society your internal universe.

How do you see sexuality and gender?
 And how does this affect you in your personal life?

Sexual orientation is, in my view, not a ‘choice’, it is something that is deeply rooted within our brain. With gender identity, I just feel like it shouldn’t be so categorized. I see gender identity as something more fluid.

How does the sense of freedom you feel in the nightlife scene differ from the experiences you’ve had growing up?

In my country of birth, all people who are different are being systematically oppressed, insulted, and even murdered by orthodox extremists. That is the greatest difference between Georgian and Dutch culture. Here I don’t have to be afraid because around me there are mostly tolerant and humane people. I would say in the Netherlands and especially Amsterdam it’s definitely way better than where I’m originally from but I think there is still a lot of progress to be made.

Apart from the positive aspects, what are the negative sides to the club scene?
The most obvious bad side of nightlife is the use of a lot of (dangerous) drugs. There are a lot of drugs and it’s fun to experiment and use them in a way of recreation but it’s scary when you see it can take over people’s lives.

What has the nightlife taught you to embrace?
I love going to the club on the weekends because there I can lose all the negative energies that accumulated within me during the week. Feeling free and dancing on the dance floor is everything to me – I dance for my future. Through nightlife, I learned to respect all different kinds of people and broaden my view on life.

Featuring @bbbbekaa
Photographer & Interview  Joy Bomer @joy_b___


My name is Ayla. I’m now 30 years old and I study Biomedical Sciences. For a couple of years now I’ve been working as a volunteer for ‘Unity’, an organization that aims to deliver a positive contribution to the image of the party scene and helps to create safe environments for the community. We do this by a.o. providing information about harm reduction and risk minimization at festivals and parties. Apart from that, I work at a ‘drug test service where people can anonymously have a sample of their drugs screened to safeguard people against unexpected differences in potency or toxic substances.
Improved education and enhanced access to (quality) information on this subject is something that’s really important to me. I hope to expand the concept of ‘safe partying’ on a structural level; to me, this also means going beyond providing information solely about alcohol and drugs but also incorporating things like consent.

Where do you like to go during the night?
Mostly I go to clubs like BRET and Radion whenever I feel like partying. Apart from clubs I also like illegal parties hosted at ever-changing, slightly questionable locations. It can sometimes seem like there are too many parties to choose from but, when it comes down to it, I simply don’t find the music hard enough most of the time. Music aside, I prefer to support organizers who succeed in creating a free, non-judgemental ambiance at their events. Oh, and another thing that’s definitely a deal-breaker to me is longer opening hours – you don’t want to see the lights get switched on when you’re just starting to get into the vibe…

How did you come into contact with your current nightlife scene?
Around when I was 16 / 17 years old I started going out, mostly to Drum ‘n Bass parties. I was also a regular in the Punk scene. One time I randomly found myself on the MS Stubnitz (a boat where they organise parties and other events) and on that particular event Techno music was being played alongside the, to be more familiar, Drum ‘n Bass. At some point, someone handed me a flyer –yes, a real, old-fashioned flyer– which advertised more Techno parties at Studio 80. This turned out to be the starting point from which I delved deeper and deeper into the Techno scene. The discovery of this new music genre went hand in hand with the discovery of new drugs. To me, it was all something totally different. Refreshing – I don’t handle monotony well, I’m always looking for something new and exciting that intrigues me.

What does freedom mean to you? And how does the nightlife contribute to this?
Freedom is not “there are no limits”. Real freedom means being able to enjoy each other and the environment on a deep and intense level while knowing there will always be someone who’s looking out for you. Like an awareness team! Some clubs, though, are better at achieving this than others… Organizations such as Unity are of course also really important in this regard. When it comes to partying I like the motto ‘think for yourself, care about others’ – I remember really well ending up at an illegal rave in Berlin one time. At this specific rave, most people weren’t looking after each other anymore, which feels a bit egocentric to me. Things can go sour real quick when that happens…

How do you see sexuality and gender? 
And how does this affect you in your personal life?
I was raised by a mum who was extremely open-minded. From a young age, she educated us on all matters of ‘diversity, including gender and sexuality. This really deepened my understanding of the world. I quickly knew that there are a lot of very different people and that, in that sense, there is no such thing as normal. Even though I’m a heterosexual, cisgender woman I still encounter conflicts regarding gender norms to a certain degree. I don’t like to classify behavior in terms of gender but others often find me a bit masculine. And yes, I guess I am a bit vulgar, coarse, and –most definitely– blunt. “Be a bit more lady-like” is something I heard from my boyfriends since I was pretty young. But I always wondered… what exactly is lady-like meant to be?

My fashion style is also a bit all over the place. Monday through Friday I usually go for basics with a little bit of edge, at parties I go a little more extravagant and tend to show some skin. But I have quite a few tattoos, to bring back the edginess. Sometimes I enjoy bringing those two apparent opposite sides together. For instance by dressing in a way that could be considered very feminine but, simultaneously, not holding back anything of my bluntness whatsoever. People often find that tricky to deal with – they short-circuit.

With regards to the topics of gender and sexuality I never want to assume anything of others. With this, I mean that I’ll never, for instance, presume which pronouns anyone wants to use. Especially in the queer party scene quite a lot of people are gender-fluid or express themselves that way. Or others who look androgynous. But in spite of, for example, a boy looking really feminine I don’t automatically want to assume they’ll prefer feminine pronouns.

What are your views on the connection between gender, sexuality, and nightlife?

I generally feel a lot more comfortable at queer parties. There tend to be more ‘safe spaces. At non-queer events, I just don’t really feel relaxed. I can’t wear what I want – simply walking about as a ‘person’ is next to impossible. I don’t want to pretend that the queer scene is perfect, but in general, it’s much more amiable.
For me personally, the discovery of who I was as a person went hand in hand with the discovery of Techno. At the events, I attended I saw so many people exploring the different facets of their identity that I felt free to do the same. It really helped with my self-esteem, I’d gotten a big confidence boost. I was able to experiment more with my clothing style and try out more provocative outfits. And sure, people took notice, but I was never ‘too much for them.

How does the sense of freedom you feel in the nightlife scene differ from the experiences you’ve had growing up?
I’m an Amsterdammer, born and bred. I grew up living in the city center and I had a very progressive upbringing. But precisely because of how I was raised I also have the luxury of forgetting at times that I, just like everyone, really live my life within a particular social bubble. Whenever I move beyond my social circle the confrontation with reality can some- times hit pretty hard. The bubble bursts – not everyone thinks like that and at times you forget that. For me, there is no sharp contrast between nightlife and the way I lived my life before I was introduced to the scene. The nightlife wasn’t immensely liberating as such, but more a deepening extension of the freedom I’d already known through my upbringing.

Apart from the positive aspects, what are the negative sides to the club scene?

Negative sides to the nightlife? Definitely ‘in crowds and attitudes for me – people who think so much of themselves. Screaming the loudest for inclusivity but at the same time excluding others. There can be a lot of attitudes; bragging about random stuff or seeing everything as some sort of popularity contest. Standing in the dirtiest, darkest club and the only thing on their minds seems to be ‘how can I feel superior to the other people here. A high school mentality if ever there was one. Some people really need an attitude check.

What has the nightlife taught you to embrace?
In the nightlife, you definitely learn not to trust everyone at face value. It’s an environment that forces you to stand your ground. You simply can’t lend money at an after-party; before you know it you’ll be 300 euros lighter… You quickly become a lot more selective with the people you let into your inner circle – you know which people you can (or can’t) count on. Certain signals or red flags get easier to recognize. I tend to go with a ‘three strikes you’re out kind of system myself.
But at the same time, the nightlife also teaches you to remain patient with people, to be more empathic – it definitely enhances your emotional intelligence in that regard, however contradictory that may seem! Nobody is perfect, and especially in the nightlife scene everyone had some type of ‘baggage’. One of the biggest things my time in the nightlife taught me is the insight of knowing when someone is worth your patience – some really do deserve that second chance.

Featuring Ayla @stevie.ayla
Photographer & Interview  Joy Bomer @joy_b___