A former industrial strip mining site in Germany might not be the first place that comes to mind if you’re looking for somewhere to stage an anarchic queer techno music festival, but you learn to expect the unexpected at Whole: United Queer Festival.
The three-day extravaganza at Ferropolis – home to five huge industrial cranes and machines looming over the peaceful blue shores of Gremminer See – attracted just under 5,000 attendees clad in glitter, leather, lace and sometimes not much else, making it the biggest queer dance music festival in the world, according to its organisers.
London-based photographer Dani d’Ingeo first spotted the festival on Instagram. “London and Berlin’s queer scenes are quite tight-knit, so many images of the iconic cranes of Ferropolis had been popping up on my social media, and I was fascinated at the sight,” they remember. “I had decided 2020 was going to be the year I’d make it there – but we all know what happened!”
D’Ingeo travelled about two hours southwest of Berlin to make the festival, which featured five stages, sets from Eris Drew and Octo Octa, and playrooms and cruising areas. “One mimicked the insides of a brutalist fetish club,” they say. “The other one resembled a granny’s house, with couches, abat-jours and tacky wallpaper. Hiding from the pouring rain, people in there were fucking, kiki’ing, dancing, singing – all at once and next to each other! I did see many wild things in there - but I’m not really meant to tell!”
In the day, people crawled out of their tents, campervans and cars for more partying, or simply to sunbathe and swim on the sandy beach by the lake. “Most people were naked, bathing and having fun. I had never in my life seen so many queer bodies naked together, especially trans bodies,” D’Ingeo says. “It was extremely uplifting and healing. For a weekend it felt like a free world for us is truly possible!”
Check out D’Ingeo’s photos from Whole below.