This Saturday night, Neck of the Woods is proud to call itself home to Lick Auckland’s Official After Auckland Pride Parade Party. Born seven years ago at the brain-wave of founder Natalie Zibung, it’s been a raving success, pioneering and revolutionising the events scene for girls who like girls across Australasia, and attracting superstars, from the cast of The L Word, to DJ Tigerlily, to Fast & Furious and Avatar star Michelle Rodriguez, to the inimitable Ruby Rose. We were lucky enough to catch a break in Natalie’s crazy transpacific schedule to get a peek into the magic juju that is Lick.
You founded Lick because there was no space nor event out there that catered to girls who like girls.. Several years on, with the success of your parties and the amount of lives you've touched, do you think you've seen any broader effects in Australasian society?
I started Lick in 2009 in Melbourne after I moved from Auckland, where there were no such options at the time that I was coming out and becoming more comfortable in my skin. There were a few other parties which I enjoyed going to, but I saw an opportunity to create something completely different to what was on offer.
Parties are very much like any other establishment - like cafes, or restaurants - not everyone will like your food, or be happy with the service! But, if you stay true to the cause, listen to your guests, listen to your community, provide the best music and entertainment and host it in a beautiful venue, you’ll have a winner. I think that’s definitely some of the secret sauce of Lick, and from taking it to all major cities in Australia and now New Zealand it’s has certainly inspired other young promoters to give it a go - without the need to compete with other promoters in the community.
Lick has found itself in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Auckland, Wellington and now Christchurch. Where did that growth come from? Are there further international plans on the horizon?
From inception, Lick started off in Melbourne, and demand just took us everywhere. We were getting so many emails and messages from people asking for Lick to come to their city, so we made that happen! We did a tour of the country two years in a row, hosted by four of the main personalities from a popular queer reality television show called The L Word.
Lick is a place where you know that you can come and have a great time within a quality venue; you’ll get the best local and interstate DJs playing the latest and old school favourite tracks, and a great crowd that just want to have fun and mingle. It’s more than just a ‘party’. It’s a place where you can come to and be so f*cking proud of being who you are. No bullshit, no judgements.
Regarding international plans - we co-promote and have an overseas partnership with Singapore’s biggest girls party, Two Queens, but apart from that no other international plans at the moment… Although, I can tell you that there is a queer music festival on an island being worked on... But can’t say which country just yet!
The word 'lesbian' isn't ever seen in Lick's advertising, but instead the focus is on 'girls who like girls'. Why is that?
Our community is very diverse, and we are strong in our thoughts of not wanting to put labels or segregate within our own community. What we mean by that is, ‘LGBTIQ’ means ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer’, Not all girls within the community are comfortable with the word ‘lesbian’ or are in fact a lesbian, and there is too much pressure sometimes to decide ‘what you are’ and needing to ‘just choose already'. Our common denominator is that we all are attracted to women, whether we are gay, bisexual or curious.
Your events aren't solely female exclusive, though. You’ve noted in the past that they’re a "space for love, fun, celebrations, acceptance and good music"?
Our events are for women, but we do allow our female guests to invite their friends, and it’s open to their discretion whether they be gay or straight, male or female. We get a lot of girls that have either not come out yet, or have just come out, and don’t have any other queer female friends, so they want to bring their closest friend for support. Regardless of their supportive friend’s sexuality or gender, the point is to ensure our guests feel safe and comfortable at any of our events. We do mixed parties too in Australia - and one of them will be coming to Auckland in 2017!
Lick parties haven't juuust been a platform for meeting or hook-ups. You've been asked to be a celebrant for girls who met at your parties! How does something like that feel?
Lick is definitely not just a place to come to just to hook up. But anywhere can be a place to hook up if a bunch of queer girls meet another bunch of queer girls, haha! Lick is a social gathering just like anywhere else, the difference is that we are hosted within a licenced music venue.
I’ve heard so many amazing stories about couples that have come to Lick and met their life partners and soulmates, and have been asked several times to be a celebrant at their weddings! I am of course looking into that and will try and make that happen if I can get some spare time!
What's the Lick Entourage?
The Entourage group is where singles or couples can meet other like-minded singles or couples. Going back to what I said earlier about how we get a lot of messages from girls not wanting to come alone to our events, the Entourage is a support network for our guests so they won’t ever be alone at a Lick Party.
We reserve a table or an area hosted by either myself, or my Event Manager Charli, and anyone can join us. We talk and introduce ourselves and each other, and it’s a great way to meet and mingle with other women.
How do you feel about relocating Lick festivities up to Karangahape Road, after a few years down in Britomart and The Viaduct?
We are so excited to be coming to Gay Road (K’Rd)! Anyone who grew up in Auckland in the 90’s and early 2000’s knows that this was where you went to go to a gay club, and it’s an icon in itself to our community.
I love K Road, it brings back great memories (and embarrassing ones, haha) but this weekend’s launch at Neck of The Woods in line with the Auckland Pride Parade as part of Auckland Pride Festival is going to be absolutely epic! And this is our third year of being a part of the fabulous Auckland Pride Festival.