Monthly queer dance party enters second year -- with a pageant

Tue. January 15, 2013 8:43 AM

stc parties

photo credit // kiam marcelo junio
Chicago, IL - When organizer and activist Lindsey Dietzler and editor Joe Erbentraut first approached The Burlington, a popular bar in Logan Square, with the idea of hosting a queer-centric dance party there, the pitch was simple and, admittedly, noncommittal.

Though the West Side neighborhood is home to a burgeoning queer presence, nightlife opportunities there, as of the fall of 2011, were still almost non-existent. And what Dietzler and Erbentraut had in mind wasn't quite like anything else being offered anywhere else in the city.

"We knew a lot of queer people had been or were moving to the neighborhood and we wanted to create a queer space in the neighborhood," Dietzler, a.k.a. resident DJ Panakin Skywalker, explained. "But we didn't want to just be another dance party."

The series of conversations that followed eventually resulted in the creation of Subject to Change. Each party would raise both awareness of and funds, via a suggested $5 donation, for a different organization or initiative working on issues that impact the lives of queer Chicagoans. The music would pull from a wider variety of genres -- ranging from punk, R&B and even country -- than typical of other parties and would emphasize the idea of "no shame" music.

Each party would also center on a theme related to the issues each benefit group worked on, explored further through a free zine featuring art and writings submitted from community members and curated by activist and spoken word artist Mar Curran.

"We wanted to create something tangible that people who came out to STC could take home and enjoy after the event, and something that felt very natural to me as a zine maker and storyteller was to create a monthly zine," Curran said. "It's developed into a fun way for community members to interact with us as hosts of the event."

In December 2011, the Subject to Change collective hosted A Merry Misfit X-Mess, their inaugural party. The event raised about $200 for El Rescate, a supportive independent living program targeted toward homeless LGBTQ youth and a project of the Humboldt Park-based Vida/SIDA. The party featured guest hostess D'Juana Cyber as Mrs. Claus, the first of a rotating crew of up-and-coming local artists whose work was showcased at the event.

"I think we went into it not really knowing what to expect in terms of turnout, and that first party was definitely not a 'rager' by any means," Erbentraut, a.k.a. DJ Josie Bush, said. "But what was more important to us was the mood and the energy of the room, plus it was huge to be able to make a donation to El Rescate. We really felt like we were onto something."

By September 2012, the parties had grown in popularity and, with the support of the management at The Burlington, the collective began featuring sets from guest DJs and took the party monthly with events being held every final Wednesday. Kiam Marcelo Junio came on board as the party's resident photographer and artist Janie Stamm joined the zine staff.

After celebrating their first anniversary last month, the Subject to Change crew is now ready to kick off their second year with their biggest event yet as they will crown the inaugural Mx. Queer (U)SA at their Jan. 30 party in a pageant emceed by Joe Varisco. Among the contestants will be a number of previous Subject to Change hosts. The party benefits the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance and will feature guest sets from DJ Wife Material (Britticisms).

Subject to Change presents the Mx. Queer (U)SA Pageant will be held Jan. 30 at the Burlington, 3425 W. Fullerton, beginning at 9 p.m. Subject to Change is held on the last Wednesday of every month at the Burlington.

On Facebook: