The music was fire and the environment was unlike any other party I had been to — simply because YYY attracts a crowd that is not defined by sexual orientation, gender identification, race, class, or even age. What connects everyone, is the desire to have a good time and an open mind in a non-judgmental environment.
Yes Yes Y’all was founded by Nino Brown, Stunts, Yes Yes Jill, L Rock and DJ Sammy Royale in 2009. Since then it has existed as one of Toronto’s most inclusive queer spaces. I had the pleasure of chatting about YYY and inclusive party culture with founder Nino Brown.
Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from and where did you grow up?
I’m Nino, born and raised in Toronto. Half my life in the city, half my life in the ‘burbs, so I know the city pretty well.
How did you get into DJing?
I got into DJing pretty much by accident. The first time I saw a mixer up close was technically my first DJ gig at a pretty popular Queen West party at the time. From then on, people started to call me a DJ - even though I was just a selector. I grew up on hip hop, so eventually I had to teach myself how to mix ‘cause I needed to respect that title.
Yes Yes Y’all has been a huge success. How did that start and for those who don’t know, what is it?
Yes Yes Y’all (YYY) started as a little seed a few of my friends and I planted in 2009. We wanted a place to party with the music we liked, that was free of judgement and had a positive and safe vibe to it. A place where you could wear what you wanted and be out with your friends no matter what race, sexual orientation, gender identity - you name it. Flash forward seven years, and it’s grown into one of country’s largest parties of its kind.
One of the things I love about all your events is the crowd you bring out. Especially, Yes Yes Y’all the vibe is always acceptance and inclusivity. Why do you think these spaces are so important for party culture (especially in Toronto)?
N: The crowd is YYY. When people ask us what the secret to successful party is, we really don’t have one outside of that. It’s 100% about community, about chosen family, about the kids that come month after month. They’re the ones who so organically made it what it is. We are always going to need spaces to be ourselves and I think that’s what keeps YYY going, I’m happy it exists as that world — maybe even just a bubble — for so many people.
I know you also have Get Buck and Cousins in Montreal. Tell us about those events, what are they, and why did you start them?
Cousins Party out in Montreal has been going on a few years now. Similar intentions to YYY behind that event for sure. There is still such a thirst for a true QPOC voice in the city’s nightlife and I’m happy we are contributing to it in that way. Montreal is such a cool and interesting place, and in ways so vastly different from Toronto. I’m so lucky to get to experience it as a second home.
You’ve been around the DJ scene for a while, what are some of the major changes you’ve witnessed in relation to inclusivity and safe spaces available for people to party?
Spaces and scenes are so much more colourful in the last couple years, truly, honestly. It’s actually the most beautiful thing to see things like the art and political scenes — ones that were pretty white-dominant for so long — not only be inviting to POC but being led by them. From who’s throwing the jams like Bambii’s Jerk party series, or to BLM’s incredible resistance movements, or to even this year’s Manifesto and Pride bookings, it’s obvious which direction the city’s placemakers are steering ship. This type of work sometimes goes unnoticed but it has such positive impact on our city’s culture.
What’s your favourite thing about creating these types of events and what’s the main thing you’ve learned from creating these spaces?
My favourite thing would have to be the real connections I’ve made with people. It sounds so cheesy, but when people are out and truly being themselves, it’s the most euphoric high sometimes. It’s that energy that has sparked so many deep and authentic conversations - with old friends and with strangers. Keeping an ear to the ground when it comes to my community’s needs or even just for up-and-coming talent has been for real a blessing. I’m so lucky I kinda get to call that my job.
What’s next for you, and what events do you have coming up that we can look forward to?
December 16th - Yes Yes Yall @ Nest Nightclub
December 17th - Cousins party @ Bar Le Ritz PDB (Montreal)
December 31st - Nino’s New Year’s with friends BYOB warehouse party @ Unit 2