Shanghai’s LGBTQ+ Medusa Club Night Becomes a Label + Exclusive Mix

Medusa has been evolving from one of China’s most famous underground club nights into a high-energy music label

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Oct 22, 2021 1 mins read

Medusa club night has become one of China’s most popular underground parties since its inception back in 2016. It aims to provide a welcoming and safe space for LGBTQ+ folks while also putting on an interactive, exuberant show.

It’s no wonder how popular Medusa club night has become, as it regularly tours the country while also staying true to its roots by putting on a monthly show at their home base in Shanghai club Elevator.

Such is the strength of Medusa’s identity, and the community of talented producers, DJs, singers, and designers behind the parties, that two of the brains behind the party, Michael Cignarale and Sam Mau Mau, have launched a label that will take the music and energy from Medusa and place it on record for the world to hear.

The first release on that new label comes from Cignarale himself and is called Operatic Orgasm. It drops on Bandcamp on October 23.

As the self-described “Glitter Queen Diva of China’s Underground Scene” — and judging by the first song on the album, “She Takes Me Over,” which dropped in September — the release is set to sum up a lot of what makes Medusa and the personalities behind it special.

Michael Cignarale Operatic Orgasm

Michael Cignarale

Speaking about the reasoning behind launching the label, Cignarale tells us, “It was always in the plan.”

He adds, “Actually, the first tracks we were going to release, we had trouble clearing the rights to the samples (yes, there is a 2015 Michael Cignarale Rupaul bootleg somewhere), and we just decided to shelve the project and label. Then recently, I got back into music production and my partner Mau Mau, who has been pushing it, jumped fully into this with me last year when I finally agreed to do it.”

The launch of Medusa is coinciding with China’s crackdown on LGBTQ groups and what it calls “Sissy Men,” and it is a beacon of the vibrant cultural communities that continue to thrive.

Speaking about the importance of community in his own artistic development, Cignarale tells us, “As a skinny, sissy gay boy, I never fully felt comfortable in the more masc gay clubs. My music never really worked there, I always felt out of place there, and at the time, dance music was a very straight scene, but welcoming, of course.

“I needed a place for me and my other sisters to feel valued and seen. Medusa was right away very diverse in that sense — there should always be a little bit of everyone at our parties. Don’t mind the bitchy queens; we are very welcoming.”

With their first release lined up to drop on October 23, Cignarale and the folks at Medusa have exciting plans ahead. Their next release will come from Enema Stone, a drag queen who performs with Medusa. Cignarale tells us that the single from her will be “filthy, disgusting, sexy, hot garbage that will make every dance floor lose its minds and maybe give them Krabs, with a K.”

This month we invited Michael Cignarale to contribute to our china.wav Mix of the Month series. His mix was recorded recently at OIL in Shenzhen, one of the finest underground clubs in the country.

All images courtesy of Michael Cignarale

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