If you’re tapped into London’s underground queer club scene, chances are you’re familiar with Hackney born-and-based photographer Roxanne Lee’s Instagram, @sausageandcustard. It’s an intimate archive of Lee’s friends, most of whom she captures mid-rave, and the carefully crafted club looks that they put together for a night out on the town. If you peruse some of these wild looks on her Instagram, you’ll find a metallic jacket punched all over with different sized grommets (it looks like someone with trytophobia’s worst nightmare), or a barely-there outfit made entirely of hot pink and black fishnet tights, topped off with heels that are completely scuffed up from hours of dancing in a sordid nightclub.
For the uninitiated, Lee has worked in clubs and pubs for her entire life. At the moment, she works as a bartender at The Glory, a popular gay pub in east London—even when she’s behind the bar, she finds time to snap photos of particularly fashionable partygoers—in addition to her career as an editorial photographer. She’s shot for the likes of Martine Rose and Asai, but in her off time, she’s gone from taking photos at clubs just for fun, to becoming the official photographer for raucous gay parties like Inferno and Adonis. Now, Lee’s compiled some of her work into a new biannual zine called Vinegar Sniffs, which is available to purchase from her Instagram as well as from London bookstore Donlon Books and concept store Fantastic Toiles.
Lee started taking photos when she was around 15 years old—she began by chronicling her friends’ graffiti and local squats—but it wasn’t until about four years ago that she brought her camera into clubs for the first time, just for her own personal use. “I started doing it without the intention 0f people really seeing it,” Lee explains. “I thought it was really important that these spaces should be documented because I think a lot of people, especially in this political climate, just really crave hedonism, and that’s the only place I’ve really seen it.” And in spite of the popularity of Instagram and the like, Lee maintains that most of the people she photographs don’t capture their often hand-crafted outfits on their own. “They don’t feel the need to ever record it because enough people saw them out, so I just wanted to do that.”
Lee and her camera have become such a staple at these parties that people have started to suss out who she is, which has made capturing the candid and unexpected moments that she finds captivating a bit more difficult. “I’m basically just really cheeky and run around and take photos. I don’t tell anyone that I’m there, but now it’s kind of weird; because of my Instagram account, quite a lot of people seem to realize who I am when I’m taking the photos,” Lee says over the phone from London a few days before the release of the new zine. “There’s always a moment where they want a cute picture that they can post on Instagram, and they can have that, but I’m also going to get them at what they might consider their worst, which I always think is amazing.”
The intimate pictures really do offer an insider’s glimpse into east London’s club scene, and considering the outfits that Lee has managed to immortalize, it’s no wonder she’s become the go-to photographer for these events: there are homemade bras made from foam packing pieces, earrings fashioned from evergreen air fresheners, and Marilyn Manson T-shirts paired with red latex gloves. “People who are into their personal style always come alive at night,” Lee says, adding that Uber has only made it easier for people to push their self-expression even further, as they don’t have to take public transport. Take a look at some of the best of London’s underground, DIY fashion below, as filtered through Lee’s expert eyes.