After failing to find a safe nightlife space for women, Franny Divine decided to create one.
In a mini-documentary from Cannibal, filmmaker Chris Martens gives a look inside the Catnip Club, “a private members disco and community,” according to its Facebook page. Divine, the founder, told The Huffington Post that her motivation to start the club stemmed from her experience in the nightlife scene.
“I have worked in music and nightclubs for most of my adult life,” she said. “Very early on I experienced how girls can be treated in nightlife situations.”
Divine said she and her friends dealt with harassment while going out and also heard from other women stories of being drugged and assaulted. In these situations, Divine said, when the police got involved they frequently asked how much alcohol the women consumed or what they were wearing.
“It felt like the only innocent woman is one who stays at home and considers her clothing in terms of what other people might think of her, not about what she wants to wear,” she said.
While she was living in Los Angeles in 2014, Divine said she continued to hear about the unsafe environment women faced while going out. She said her gay and transgender friends also encountered violent reactions from people at mainstream club events. So Divine decided to create an alternative place for people to go, and the Catnip Club was born. According to Divine, more than 800 people attended the club’s first event in March.
“We wanted to create a safe space for everyone, not just women, where people can express themselves through fashion and form unity through a love of music and expression,” she said.
The club allows its members to wear what they want without the fear of being objectified and projects an atmosphere that encourages freedom of expression. As the name suggests, many attendees wear feline-inspired attire. The club has now secured a venue and has a Halloween party in the works. As for the future, Divine told HuffPost the Catnip Club has no plans of slowing down.
“We will be shaking our cat tails every other weekend in L.A. between now and the end of the year,” she said.
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