Ever been to a gay pride party with a simulated volcano?
”That’s going to be the DJ booth,” says Bradley Portnoy. ”The DJ is going to be in the caldera.”
And yes, there may even be volcanic ash floating in the air. ”I’d say it’s a safe bet that the volcano will be erupting,” concedes Portnoy. He’s helping produce the party alongside John Marble and Deb Greenspan, all part of the organization BrightestYoungThings.com’s gay offshoot, known as BYGays.
Clearly, this is a Saturday night pride party of a greater magnitude than most. Tectonic plates are converging, you might say, with wide-ranging activities and entertainment coming together to spew appeal to a diverse audience. This year’s official Capital Pride Closing Party happens at the sprawling, iconic Washington Hilton. The party, to be spread out over two ballrooms, will hold as many as 4,500 people at the newly renovated hotel.
This year’s theme is ”Homo Erectus: The Evolution of Pride.”
”I think there’s a segment of our community that has been disengaged from Pride,” says Marble. “It doesn’t really connect for them, why they should participate.” Marble and his fellow organizers hope to draw the disengaged in by offering ”an array of options for people to choose from.”
For starters, an eclectic mix of D.C. DJs will spin at the party, including Shea Van Horn of Mixtape, Nattyboom of Anthology of Booty, Junebullet of First Ladies DJ Collective, DJ Majr of Cobalt’s Shift and Lesbanannie of Anniething Goes. The main ballroom will serve as the ”Jungle of Desire,” while a smaller ballroom is a ”designated space for lesbians” dubbed the ”Bedrock Cave,” inspired by a scene in The Matrix: Reloaded.
”There are a lot of amazing lesbian events and DJs, and I’m excited that they will have a chance to showcase their skills to a bigger audience,” says Greenspan.
In addition, the BYGays organizers are planning activities that go beyond music and dancing — to make the event a ”dance party-plus,” as Portnoy puts it. They’re working to enlist performance and visual artists, including painters and dancers. They’re also encouraging people to dress up.
”You can come in the clothes you normally wear and you won’t feel out of place,” says Portnoy. ”[But] cave attire is recommended, however you want to interpret that.”
Marble co-founded the BYGays website with Portnoy after having served as the main gay contributor to BYT for the past few years. All three are in public relations by day. Planning this pride party stems from the same drive as the website — the point is to show off all that gay D.C. has to offer.
”It’s almost like a love letter to D.C.,” says Marble. ”We all love this city. I’ve had opportunities to live other places but I keep coming back to D.C. Washington has such an interesting cultural life to it.”
”Homo Erectus: The Evolution of Pride” happens Saturday, June 12, from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Washington Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW. Tickets are $25 in advance. Visit dcpride.eventbrite.com.