Dance for Democracy with Chlöe Swarbrick

This Wednesday we invite Green Party member, cafe owner and our old pal Chlöe Swarbrick back to Neck of the Woods for round two of her annual Dance for Democracy. This time she's bringing her pals Tei, k2k, Jahra Rager and Julia Jewels to perform. Four of our favourite local female acts, along with Chloe, throwing a party; it's one not to miss! Party aside, we thought this would be a great opportunity to ask Chloe a bit about her life since running for mayor and how she keeps it all together.

This time last year you were hosting Dance for Democracy in promotion your mayoral campaign, and this year it’s in conjunction with The Green Party, which you are now part of. It’s been a whirlwind year for you. Tell us a bit of what’s happening this Wednesday?

Kia ora Immy! It has been a big, impossibly fantastic year. Last year, an awesome dude by the name of Andy (100% Good) offered to do a gig with me during the local body elections to try and put politics in a bit of a different context to the usual, so as to engage with people who don't typically encounter 'Politics' with a capital 'P' in their everyday. Andy's involved in helping out again this year, as is the big man Bridge.

I guess the underlying premise is that everything is political. Homelessness, the housing crisis, climate change – all of it is the result of political decision making or omission. And things can change – that change lies in the potential of all of us coming together to stand for inclusion, aroha, climate action, and everything in between.

A tonne of super talented local artists and friends (Jahra Rager, Tei., Julia Jewels, k2k, Friends of All the World, Baby Zionov and WhyFi) are coming together to play a gig, and get people dancing together towards a progressive and awesome future for everyone.

More about this whirlwind year! You went from being Marcomms Manager at Neck of the Woods, along with juggling many other jobs, to leaving to run for mayor and then also launching Olly. When most people talk about you it’s in amazement, but often people comment “how the hell does she do it all?”. What advice can you give other young people juggling multiple jobs or projects? What tactics do you take when you are feeling overwhelmed with having so much on the go?

It's all about people, and our communities. Pretty much everything I've done over the past few years has been about trying to build spaces for art, culture and talent to thrive – my running for Mayor was the result of realising those spaces were drying up faster than we could create them, because there was an absolute disregard for their importance at the highest levels of decision making.

I think that probably has a lot to do with the incessant focus on money and profit – but anyway. I guess that lends itself to segue into the reason that we tried to reduce the barriers as much as possible with Dance for Democracy. It's koha (gold coin) entry, because a good time and political engagement should not be predicated on your having bags of cash.

But to go back to your question – it's all about finding something you care about. I'm a little miffed at the stereotypical advice doled out that if you find something you love, you'll never work a day in your life.. If you find something you love, you'll work the hardest you've ever worked. It's not easy, but you have a driving purpose that makes it meaningful. That's my experience at least.

Organisation is important too, but I'm not perfect there either. I run my life by Google calendar, and a bunch of haphazard checklists and brainstorms in my notebook.

What advice would you personally give yourself one year ago?...When you decided to run for mayor.

Keep going.

Something else people would love to know, what is your usual day-today? There is only so much time in one day and you manage to fit it all in, what does ‘it’ consist of at the moment?

I currently work at Olly about 2-4 days a week, travel around Aotearoa listening to and discovering local issues 1-3 days a week, and spend my evenings/weekends in campaign activities with awesome volunteers.

Back to the topic of you working at Neck of the Woods; being Marketing Manager at the club you were always actively involving young creatives and musicians in our events and artwork, as well as throughout What’s Good Blog and bFM, and now at Olly. What local creatives are you admiring at the moment and why?

Oh! Great question! There's gotta be way too many to count. I'll always back my boys Bryson Naik and Vincent Fasi – Brys has also over the past year or so been doing a bunch of creative work for the SWIDT whānau, who I admire greatly. Jahra Rager is a consistent source of inspiration, Tei. is mind-blowing, and The Grow Room crew are incredible.

I'll always love and big up Nicole Semitara Hunt (Locapinay) and her poetic photography, and have grown to have ever more respect and admiration for the eye, heart and mind of curator and artist Ema Tavola. Gotta back Bryan Anderson, one of my partners in crime at Olly and muso.


Bring all your friends along tonight to Dance for Democracy, gold coin entry!