Poblacion's LGBTQ+ space for all

Futur:st started out as a queer nightclub and gallery in Manila's cultural quarter, but it now runs retail pop-ups, DJ sets and more. Co-founder Samantha Nicole Samonte explains the reasoning behind its ever-changing strategy.
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Describing itself as a ‘revolving space’ that keeps up with its community, Futur:st is an offshoot of Today x Future – a nightlife institution in Quezon City (around 10km away from Poblacion), which closed during the pandemic after nearly 12 years of operating. Here, Samantha Nicole Samonte, the brand's co-founder, event director and content strategist, explains how loyalty can go a long way.

What's a ‘revolving space’?

A. ‘Futur:st originally functioned as a club and gallery, which wouldn't have worked for us during the pandemic for obvious reasons. We shifted our strategy to cater to the community that we've fostered over the past decade, finding ways to benefit from each other while keeping this space alive. We achieve this by revolving between retail pop-ups, kitchen pop-ups, art shows and DJ sets. It [would be] easy to communicate Futur:st as a bar, but I don't want to reduce it to just that.’

What value does Futur:st derive from its community?

A. ‘The loyalty from our regulars. We harness this value by involving them in the space. When someone takes over Futur:st, they bring in a crowd, which then turns into sales. Tangible value is easy to measure – you get money. But it's important for us to invite people who understand what we need from this space. We're striving to create a safe experience for people to engage with one another by being completely themselves. We want our community to be able to make a home out of this tiny space.’

Is Poblacion a competitive environment to operate in?

A. ‘Poblacion is, in one way, competitive because you can't help but take care of your [business] by generating more customers. But Poblacion is collaborative, too. We make it a point to talk to each other. If someone's having an event one weekend, it's an opportunity to set one up in our spaces. This place thrives when customers hop from one place to another. It's the same with DJs who play in multiple spots in one night. The last thing that we want to do is clip someone's wings.’

This article was first published in Courier issue 45, February/March 2022. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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