Sarah Barrable-Tishuuer, who goes by DJ Me Time, is an artist, event producer and community advocate who engages dance music as a catalyst for social change. Her immersive rave opera, PORTAL, which took place at Wildseed Centre for Art & Activism, is the first chapter of an evolutionary opera being produced by Outside the March as part of the TD Forward March program, and was one of the hottest tickets at Summerworks.
Me Time has grown a massive loyal following for her genre-mashing music. She is a champion of safer spaces that celebrate sobriety and moderation, promote diverse underrepresented artists and hold intentional space for all bodies to move freely. She’s the founder of the The R.A.V.E Institute, and the creator behind hugely popular monthly dance parties EveryBody and Bass Witch.
From her activism to the philosophy that is currently guiding her journey, Me Time is transforming the very definition of dancefloor party. Get to know this badass artist with limitless talent.
What is the mission of The R.A.V.E Institute?
The R.A.V.E. Institute is a research facility that uses R.A.V.E. technology to cultivate human potential and social change through ritual rave experiences. We are developing a closed loop system called NEW WORLD that requires you to play a role in restoring balance and ascending to the next evolution of humanity. Our first innovation, PORTAL, processes your human system to determine the role you’re meant to play in NEW WORLD.
What inspired PORTAL? Why was it important for you to create this space?
My DJ name comes from the fact that my ‘Me Time’ is on the dancefloor. It’s a space I feel in flow, when I can go within. I wanted to create a parallel experience for participants; centring them as the main character with agency over their own experience.
PORTAL is at the intersection of immersive theatre and raving, exploring interactive technologies to gamify audience interaction and creating a science fiction environment designed to generate a tangible community-building effect on its audience.
What philosophy is currently guiding your journey?
My work engages science fiction as activism. In the spirit of Octavia Butler and inspired by the words of her scholars adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha, I want to create spaces for us to “collectively dream of new worlds so that we can begin to create those worlds here.”
For me, the dancefloor is more than a party, it is a radical utopia where the ecstatic ritual of social dancing or raving serves a myth-making function to solidify community values. Inspired by the roots of rave in underground Black queer culture: I engage the dancefloor as an inherently political, utopian dream space to centre inclusivity and representation.
This piece includes an entirely Black dance music soundtrack and displays the incredible work of my fellow Wildseed* resident, Natalie Wood and Wildseed residency facilitator, Oluseye.
PORTAL tickets are free with a suggested donation to Wildseed Centre for Arts and Activism, of which I am a fellow of their inaugural Black Arts Fellowship, created by Black Lives Matter – Canada.
How did you learn to do what you do?
I learned from generations of activists that love is the answer. I learned from my ancestors that joy is resistance. I learned from Maya Angelou that people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
So much of your work is about getting people to tap into their feelings. How are you feeling right now?
I’ve spent the last 18 months dreaming about the Renaissance – a time of social reemergence and social change. I dreaded a ‘return to normal’ because normal wasn’t serving so many of us in marginalized communities, activist communities and the dance music community. Since I started throwing events, my sole focus has been creating joyful dancefloors that champion representation, harm reduction and hold intentional safer space for all bodies to move freely for self-expression, connection and play. I imagined that after 18 months of isolation and a deeper understanding of our individual impact on collective health and safety, that we would see more consent education and diverse lineups. Instead I’m concerned we’ve forgotten these lessons and that the rush back to the dancefloor, means not prioritizing safety. New York and London both require vaccination passports to enter a dancefloor and they are still experiencing their next wave. It’s scary watching crowds of mixed vaccinated people, indoors and maskless. What is the effect of this summer going to have on our community?
That said, I remain hopeful and optimistic! Many of us are working to create the new normal. To focus less on the spaces that don’t prioritize us and to create the spaces we can’t find. There are so many amazing new BIPOC, women, non-binary, trans DJs (including some of my Selecta School students) who’ve spent 18 months practicing in their bedrooms and are ready to bust out and make us move!
PORTAL has shown me the power of dance to connect us and to dream of radical new worlds so we can begin to build them here.
What piece of advice has always served you well?
You are in control of your own happiness.
When I took responsibility for my own happiness – my life changed. Initially it was terrifying to realize that all the things I was blaming for my unhappiness (my toxic job, my relationship, my unsupportive friends) were actually things I had the ability to change. Instead of feeling stuck that life was something happening to me, I realized I could put positive intentions towards what I wanted and manifest them in my life. As a reformed people pleaser, I also realized that the people in my life needed to take responsibility for their own happiness – and it wasn’t up to me to make them happy.
When you recognize your agency, you realize that you have the power to create the life you truly want to live.
What does JOY look like for you?
Joy is feeling safe, seen, fulfilled and valued.
Follow DJ Me Time on Instagram. Join the movement at www.theraveinstitute.com. Me Time’s work on this project is also supported by the Wildseed Centre for Arts and Activism, and TO Live’s explorations initiative. Summerworks runs until the end of August, see full lineup of programming here. Me Time in Bunny Ears shot by Joshua Best.