What would 80s nightlife have been like if an HIV prevention drug had existed back then? That’s the question Frank Ocean set out to answer with PREP+, the queer club party of the year.
An October 16 press release from Blonded—which is the name Ocean uses for his Instagram handle and Beats 1 Radio show—described the event as “an homage to what could have been of the 1980s’ NYC club scene if the drug PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)—which can be taken daily to prevent HIV/AIDS for those who are not infected but are at high risk—had been invented in that era,” and noted that PrEP+ would start “the first in a series of nights; an ongoing safe space made to bring people together and dance. PrEP+ will welcome globally celebrated DJs. PrEP+ welcomes everyone.”
In typical Frank Ocean fashion, there wasn’t much advance notice: the actual party took place on October 17, in a difficult-to-find location in New York. And though the press release noted that all were welcome, tickets were hard to come by, having apparently already been distributed at the time the statement was released. According to reports from Pitchfork, there were some house rules too: “no photos or videos are allowed, consent is mandatory, zero tolerance for racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, ableism or any form of discrimination, the dance floor is for dancing.”
But it appears that some people did break the first house rule. At least a few Ocean fans took to Twitter to share a photo of the musician at the DJ booth, where he reportedly debuted two new songs.
There has been some backlash to naming the event PrEP+. And using an exclusive party as a space to imagine universal access to a drug that could save the lives of millions if it were more accessible and affordable, has provoked some eye rolls. But Ocean does deserve credit for furthering the conversation about drug. There’s no question that people are talking.