Were you aware that our Forest City is home to its very own group of Muses?
Much like the dynamic femme collective of the past, Rude Girls London exists to radiate passion, propel culture, and inspire the masses. I got to speak with Harina Mokanan, Zara Habib, Denice Baker, and Avery Wei of RGL and listen to the sweet music of what they had to say to London, ON.
What is Rude Girls London?
Rude Girls is all about womyn taking up space. It all starts with passion — for music, for the importance of art, for community. It grows with collaboration, bringing intention and beauty to each aspect of our lives with the aim to share that creativity. In turn, this makes our city a more vibrant place to be. We are in the business of lifting up our community by lifting each other up and welcoming those who want to do the same.
Rude Girls embodies a signature chemistry of femininity, creativity, respect, expression, and understanding. Once you’ve experienced that vibe, there’s no denying it or going back.
What does it take to be part of the collective? What makes a “Rude Girl”?
HM: It starts with passion. Passion for music, for community, and for art. We can recognize a Rude Girl by the music she plays, by the enthusiasm she has for sharing her skills and creating a collaborative environment. It’s all about taking up space and creating a vibe with intention.
DB: Being a community-fronted person. The willingness to share and cultivate these passions, to curate a space and make things happen.
ZH: Being woman-identifying, femme. It’s still meant to be an inclusive space, but identifying as a woman is a certain way of moving through the world, and that’s what this is dedicated to.
AW: I think the Rude Girl ideology can answer the question!
How has the pandemic forced you to pivot?
ZH: It’s been a lot of adjusting and learning. Since in-person shows are what RGL was known for, we’ve shifted a lot to the online world. Despite the pandemic, we’ve been able very successful in still being able to connect to that community through two main events. One is the weekly live radio stream, Rude Girls Radio. The other is a monthly live-stream dance party, where we collaborate with a woman-fronted local organization or business that also embodies our values. It’s forced us to have a more proactive approach when showcasing the voices of local women — which has always been what Rude Girls stood for.
With in-person events not happening, what are your parameters for success? How do you quantify that success?
HM: Are we bringing the community together? Are we connecting people or entities that might not have interacted otherwise? Do they feel heard? Do they feel safe? Are they excited? Are the women being given a platform to share any kind of messages they want through their respective businesses? Rude Girls is a new initiative in this city, so we’re still coming up with a set of criteria to measure that, but it all comes back to connecting the community. Each woman brings something unique to this city, and this is another avenue of showcasing that.
What acts as a source of inspiration to you? What keeps you energized as you move forward?
DB: Especially now, it’s nature. Taking a walk and seeing a little ramp that’s broken through the snow, even though it’s had winter on top of it for months — I’m like, ‘Oh, I relate.’ Also, watching Harina and Zara drop that needle and see people just start moving, even though it’s all virtual — that’s inspiring.
HM: My dad. He has a fire in him. He doesn’t stop, he has a clear sense of purpose, and he’s so unbothered and loving. It’s so regenerative and infectious. Yeah, my dad.
ZH: My inspiration is joy. I move toward what feels light and encouraging. I chase that feeling.
AW: Genuine love and a desire to grow.
What is something in your opinion that is woefully in short supply in this world?
ZH: Understanding. It starts with the self. If you don’t understand yourself, how can you understand anyone else? A deep understanding of the self will lead to a deeper understanding of other people and other ways of life.
AW: Failure to recognize that love is an orientation of character that determines one’s relationship with the world at large. Too often, we narrow our love to a relationship with a specific person. As Erich Fromm said, “If a person loves only one other person and is indifferent to the rest of his fellow men, his love is not to love, but a symbiotic attachment, or an enlarged egotism.”
HM: A sense of deeply-rooted culture, especially in the western hemisphere. There are cultures that share in rituals of passage, where the community comes together to recognize the individual, and to provide space and skills and tools for them. There’s an understanding of ‘I am you, and you are me’ that we’re missing.
DB: I think there’s a severe lack of mindfulness. Being more mindful of our decisions and how they are affecting us and those around us would be a more productive and dynamic space to be in.
If London were a person sitting across the table from you, what would you say to them?
DB: Can you stop ignoring your core? I know there’s a lot of trauma, but we have to be working on it. Stop reaching outside — pull back in! There’s lots of beauty in there.
HM: I would get up and shake them, get the blood flowing! Wake them up because they’re feeling too comfortable, too privileged, too disconnected. Then we could have a conversation.
ZH: Loosen up that tight ass. Relax, and stop being concerned with yourself so much.
AW: You seem to have a fun soul! I’d love to get to know you more.
Are there any particular mantras/maxims that you adhere to in your life?
DB: “Catch as catch can” and “You can’t take it with you.”
HM: I had a dream with this in it —To do the work you need to do; all you need is space and air. With those two things, I can do anything.
ZH: Don’t take it personally – the way someone is acting, the way things seem. It’s always about something bigger.
AW: “Whenever it seemed to me that I felt a deep sense of the world, it was its simplicity that always moved me.” — Albert Camus
Speaking to this beautiful quartet showcases an authentic congruency between what they embody and what they project — these principles of community, passion, creativity, and collaboration. Bringing people together is always a gamble, but by adding the intent to understand, to congregate, and to coalesce, we can create something that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Rude Girls London is a euphonic example of what can be accomplished when we choose to come together and create something new.
Connect (to the) Four
Photos by Marty Annson.