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Podcast: Sarah Akawa’s ambitious summer of queer-centric events

The Madison event booker and DJ discusses the return of the Hot Summer Gays series.

Sarah Akawa is one of Madison’s most tireless advocates for queer nightlife and inclusive spaces. You might know Akawa for her DJing and production work under the name Saint Saunter, or for the extensive efforts she’s put into booking queer-focused dance parties, live music events, and art shows at venues around town. Akawa co-founded the now defunct Queer Pressure collective, and this summer she’s continued to partner with another local organization, Dyke Dive, to produce the Hot Summer Gays event series. The next installment of Hot Summer Gays is on July 19 at Robinia Courtyard. 

Ahead of that, Akawa joined us to talk about HSG and some newer event ideas she’s been working on, and how the landscape for queer events in Madison is changing. “Has it gotten better in Madison? Yes, but I also think that there is something to be interrogated with how much venues want to tap the queer community for financial gain,” Akawa says. “People are super down to have queer events there, because they see that queer events bring in people who want to have a good time, but if the goal is purely to capitalize off people wanting to go to a queer dance party, and make money, it’s pretty obvious, I think, to the community, and it’s not going to continue very long.”

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A promotional graphic for the Mad Lit events series shows the series' logo and text stating (8 p.m. until 11 p.m., Every other Friday, 100 block of state St. July 1st-October 7th. A collage of performers and audience members is visible to the right, and the logos of event sponsors are visible along the bottom.

In addition to booking and DJing a multitude of events, Akawa will also be playing a September 11 set at Communication, as part of a Tone Madison-presented event with Avola, Elrond, and Woodman/Earhart.

Give the conversation a listen here, or subscribe to the Tone Madison podcast on Apple Podcasts. If you like what you’re hearing, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and consider supporting us financially with a one-time or recurring donation. And please check out our sister podcasts, Record Store Dropouts and Digital Warmth.

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