I found SÜK whilst out at sea. I was halfway through my first contract working on long-haul ships and the standard-issue boilersuit made me sweat and chafed my thighs raw. It was also ugly as sin: tight around my legs and tits, but somehow managing to slip off my shoulders and hang low in the crotch.
I felt uncomfortable at work on a daily basis and I was also very lonely. It was on that first voyage that I dreamt of a femme workwear label. The vision kept me going.
For close to a decade I'd been working on building sites and farms as the only woman. Amongst other things, I’d been slapped on the arse, ignored, patronised, threatened, stalked, and laughed at. I’d kicked a lot of arse and learnt a great deal, but it had come at an emotional cost. I’d spent ten years in defence mode: ready to dodge inappropriate flirtation, aggression, and leering eyes, whist also feeling the need to work exceptionally hard to prove my competency to certain men. I didn’t realise it at the time, but my working life had lacked mentorship. People I could learn from, be authentic with, trust and confide in.
Christelle, Maya and Sal on home ground: The Drill Hall.
When I finally launched SÜK, some 5 years later, I suddenly found myself surrounded by a community of bad-ass femmes who wanted to learn, hype each other up, and generally support each other. I loved seeing the glorious, confident energy and feel the femme 4 femme support flourish online. It felt beautiful, exciting and scary.
I wasn’t sure I knew how to nurture the kind of community I saw forming around SÜK. So, in search of mentors, I turned to a long standing, community focused organisation: The Women’s Circus.
The Women’s Circus was created originally as a project at Footscray Community Arts Centre in 1991 as a safe space for women who were fleeing or recovering from domestic and sexual violence.
Today Women’s Circus lives in West Footscray’s Drill Hall and is a space for all women, trans and non-binary people to loosen up and get physical, whilst rebuilding trust, confidence and wellbeing. It welcomes people of all skill levels — professional, amateur and beginner — to train together and explore the creative joy of the human body.
I wanted to understand how the Women’s Circus formed a safe-space for creative risk-taking, and to explore how a community can help you grow, learn and find purpose. So, I sent the Women’s Circus an email, shyly asking if they’d like to work on a project with SÜK. The next morning when I got an email back saying yes, I blushed… I realised I had my first ‘organisational crush’.
Sal lifts Mahla
Fast forward a few weeks and myself, SÜK's photographer Isabella, and a 2 person film crew (Maddie and Bonita) met them for rehearsal. The Drill Hall is exactly how you’d imagine it: ropes and trapezes floating overhead, soft mats stacked high, chalk dust everywhere and a neon sign glowing ‘WOMEN’ in one corner. The hall has the shape of a large ship —cavernous and half lit — but the atmosphere of a festival tent: playful, loved up, and full of potential.
The performers arrived, excited to see each other and obviously comfortable in the space. They began warming up on the mats, shaking their bodies, running freely, jumping. I was struck by how at-home they seemed in the space and their bodies, and by their impressive flexibility. They seemed oblivious to our avid watching as they went about their routines.
It’s rare that you get to know your crush and they really are as exciting as the fantasy you have in your head. It is rarer still for a crush to surpass your expectations, whilst they reveal themselves as magnificently human & vulnerable.
This is what it was like getting to know the Women’s Circus.
They are a real, breathing, complex intersectional collective. Their work evidently brings purpose and community to those inside it. They really are as cool, relaxed and funny as they seem. They really do like each other. They are REALLY talented and laid back. They are hardworking, brave and goofy. They really are the real deal.
I want to thank the Women’s Circus for letting me into their home, the Drill Hall. It was a gift to see them work together and hang out. I don’t yet have enough hours in the day to take classes, but if you do, check out their website. Their work is exciting and the vibe is real, they are a shining example of how a truly inclusive space works, and SÜK salutes everything that they stand for.
We made two videos in celebration of our time together. Check the Women’s Circus out on your IG, you’ll see the team in all their glory and even a glimpse of my camera-shy face glowing, all crushed up.
Thank you for showing me how it's done, Women’s Circus
(left) Mahla, Beth & Dev, (middle) Flexy Vivienne, (right) Jack stretches