“It [will] introduce youth to more culture. It also creates a safe space for them to go and meet other people their same age,” says Lauren Widor, publicist for Cramer PR & Events. Widor’s referring to One Queer Roof, an event happening June 16 at Lincoln Hall that brings together five late-night giants (FKA, Chances Dances, Stardust/Cult, Queerer Park and A/S/L Media), while simultaneously reaching out to the 18+ crowd. Without missing a beat, boss Scott Cramer of weekly party Stardust/Cult chimes in. “I think it’s funny that you said, to give them culture,” he says. “I was actually thinking the complete opposite. The young people are going to make me feel so refreshed.” Suddenly, everyone on this six-way conference call is cracking up.
You might say it’s an impressive feat to bring so many disparate party organizers together in one place, but the real big deal is the impact they’ve had on queer culture in Chicago. It started nearly seven years ago with the genesis of Chances Dances, a monthly party that greatly expanded queer nightlife options by offering both an alternative to Boystown and to LGBT-identified bars, starting with a gathering at now-defunct Big Horse Lounge in Wicker Park. Today, Chances hosts parties at Hideout and Subterranean and the mellower Off-Chances at Danny’s Tavern. Other parties followed, including FKA at Big Chicks, Stardust/Cult at Berlin and Queerer Park at Beauty Bar and other venues (not to mention Slo ’Mo, Nuts & Bolts, Salonathon and others).
It turns out, getting these folks together under One Queer Roof was doable. “It’s something I had wanted to do for a really long time,” Cramer says. “They were down, so here we go.” Adds Chances organizer Rita Bacon, “We’re all just friends, and we all circulate throughout each other’s parties anyway.”
One Queer Roof will be hosted by the amazing Trandroid and feature DJ sets from Reaganomix, Black Gold, Barbara Butch & Unisexy, John Twatters, Lady Miss Navy Pier, the Lady Speedstick and Teen Witch. It will also include 18- to 20-year-olds, a group typically absent in Chicago’s nightlife scene, among its partiers.
Halsted Street’s Pie Hole once targeted younger queers before it relocated to Broadway, and parties like Wild Thursdays at the Hacienda and a college night at Halsted’s were open to those 18 and up. But today, aside from Upscale Pride at the Victor Hotel, nightlife options for youth are slim, and Bacon says the No. 1 question on the Chances Facebook page is whether their parties cater to youth.
Younger adults have also been under scrutiny lately due to an increase in loitering on Halsted Street, a fact not lost on the organizers. “I think it’s important for us to show that we can come together and do a collaborative effort so that we’re banding together against the hate within our own community,” Cramer says. “There’s been a lot of that stuff happening, which is really disturbing and weird to me, and I hope that we can show an equal and safe space for all ages to hang out.”
Mostly, the organizers are interested in creating an alternative to house parties or hanging out at their apartments and hope to make the party a recurring one. “These kids are going to be taking over our spots eventually,” Bacon says. “Let’s bring in the youth and show them that this is a way to help build a platform and help continue these types of parties in the future.”
One Queer Roof happens June 16 at Lincoln Hall.