illustration with people looking at art and a dj

Inside Out — Sappho

On Thursday, July 8, enjoy happy hour in the museum's outdoor sculpture courtyard with tunes provided by Sappho.

Bring your appetite, too! Regional food trucks and a bar created by Café Carnegie offering custom snacks, kid-friendly treats, local beers, delicious wines, and more will be on-site.

While you’re at Inside Out, participate in art-making activities for all ages.

Inside Out events are FREE and open to all ages. Make a day of it and reserve your timed tickets to visit the museum before or after you enjoy Inside Out!

Liner Notes

DJ Freeter and Theodore Rexx in conversation with Inside Out co-producer Lauren Goshinski

LG: Sappho! A name I am happy to see again. Over the past decade, this party offered one of the few art-punk-dance nights for queer folks to let loose, and was affiliated with venues like Brillobox (RIP). Remind us how the event started, and where it is today?
Freeter: Operation Sappho was a monthly queer dance party started by DJs Mary Mack and D May in Pittsburgh in 2006, organized by a rotating crew of DJs and party hosts over the years.

LG: The sound of a Sappho night was always eclectic and joyful. How do you go about selecting your own tracks, and inviting other artists to perform for this kind of party?
Freeter: When I’m selecting tracks, I’m thinking about the lyrics and rhythms that might resonate with people I envision together on the dance floor. I’m thinking about the queer and bipoc voices I want to amplify and what I want to dance to.

LG: Theo you’re based in Baltimore now, and Joseph you boomeranged back from NYC, but we all go way back together! How did your experiences before leaving Pittsburgh shape your careers and perspectives on music? What is your blended view today?
Theo: I always say that Baltimore raised me but Pittsburgh made me. I have always been a music lover and multi-instrumentalist, but it wasn’t until I got to Pittsburgh that I decided to give DJ’ing a try. The arts community in Pittsburgh is truly unlike any that I have ever been a part of before. I received so much support and mentorship and would not have any kind of arts career without my Pittsburgh experiences.

LG: Many nightlife scenes are also made up of visual artists and community activists. What kind of artistic or socio-political movements do you see coming together in current DJ nights? What is the connection between the music that is being DJ’d and these movements for you?
Freeter: I DJ to create liberatory spaces for queer and trans people of color, moments where we can feel free, dance and express ourselves in the ways we want to be seen.
Theo: I am part of an exciting new arts collective in Baltimore that specifically lifts up the work of Black queer artists. I also teach a high school and college course about the history of Black counterculture in America. As a historian, cultural worker, and artist, the boundaries of activism and art are virtually non-existent to me. Historically, marginalized and oppressed peoples have always had to create their own spaces to simply exist and also to present their art. These spaces continue to birth powerful movements that often end up shaping the “dominant” or “mainstream” culture. I am excited to witness so many new collectives coming together to continue this legacy.

LG: Drop some knowledge. What are the sources of your music inspiration?
Or, is there anything you wish people knew more about Pittsburgh music & nightlife?

Freeter: Let’s keep on creating spaces to exist and meet outside of all binaries (race, gender, ability, class).

LG: How can people help music & nightlife recover from Covid, and come back better? Anything on the horizon folks should attend or support?
Freeter: Continue thinking about cultivating and creating spaces that are accessible and safe for all.
Theo: I am really interested in supporting and being part of new structures for nightlife and cultural orgs. I think we are witnessing the beginning of some shifts to more collective, artist-owned, collaborative structures. I believe this is an opportunity to make some significant changes to the way we do business and I want to see more support for collective and collaborative structures.

LG: For you, why is music & nightlife an essential part of culture at large?
Freeter: As gender non-conforming and trans people, we need spaces where we can be ourselves and be seen, and explore our wildness.
Theo: For me, music has always been a love language and nightlife has always provided a space for me to freely speak my love language. As I mentioned earlier, so much of what goes on in these nightlife spaces ends up influencing the wider culture, although it’s rarely credited for doing so.

LG: TRACK ID. Name a track you’re rinsing right now, that we might hear at CMOA.
Freeter: Tunde Olaniran - Miracle
Theo: Grace Jones - Pull Up to the Bumper

About Inside Out:

Inside Out is Carnegie Museum of Art’s new outdoor summer event series celebrating and supporting Pittsburgh’s rich cultural landscape. Running from June 5 through September 4 on Thursdays from 4-8 p.m. and Saturdays from 12-5 p.m., the museum is partnering with over 28 regional artists and small arts organizations to transform the museum’s outdoor Sculpture Courtyard into the season’s go-to destination with a robust schedule of pop-up performances, DJs, art-making activities, local food trucks and beverages, kid-friendly treats, and more. See the full schedule of events here.