Watch: Explore Berlin's ballroom scene in new documentary 'Safe'

Director Leo Adef evocatively captures the lives of queer dancers of colour set against Berlin's ballroom community.

ballroom dancer wearing a hat posing in front of red background
Image: Leo Adef

The powerful and attention- grabbing new documentary, Safe, is a window into a different world, as it puts viewers right into the heart of Berlin’s beautiful ballroom scene. Following several queer people of colour, it discovers their relationships with the scene and what it means to them.

LGBTQ+ people around the world have sought refuge and self-expression in the ballroom community, and the featured dancers in this documentary; Shayne, David, Gifty, Christopher, and Magia, are no different. 30 years on from the iconic Paris is Burning, Adef’s documentary offers stark comparisons to the groundbreaking scenes in Jennie Livingston’s masterpiece.

two ballroom dancers sat beside eachother whilst the sun is setting on Berlin for documentary

Adef’s documentary is not just a depiction of dance, it is an exploration of gender, identity, self-love, and beauty. GCN caught up with Adef to discover the journey of creating Safe:

So why this documentary? What inspired you?

“I went to Berlin to collaborate on a campaign with a brand, and in that project, I met these performers. They opened up to me rather quickly and shared their stories and experiences, which moved me. Since I started creating films, I always chose to portray stories that are not represented much in mainstream culture.

“As a queer person, I learned a lot from my own community in Barcelona, and when I met this community in Berlin, I knew that I wanted to create something like this with them.”

Why do you think these spaces are so important for queer individuals?

“I asked the same question to the members of this community, and David Milan answered: “Because as a gay POC you don’t find safe places everywhere. Here, trans people can say openly that they are trans for example, and everyone will celebrate you for who you are. It’s important to keep ballroom alive because you learn how to be self-confident and how to survive outside of ballroom.”

ballroom dancer sitting looking at themselves in the mirror

What does Safe mean to you?

“It means a lot of things to me. As a queer person, it is a new opportunity for me to make something for my community, to inspire others, and to share stories with a lot of value.

“It is also an important project because, as a director, all of my work stopped in 2020, and this was the only project that I could make! I hope to have more opportunities this new year to keep sharing these kinds of stories.”

Watch the full Safe documentary below:

Fancy watching some more queer documentaries? We’ve got you covered.

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