Denver's annual Pride events have grown bigger and more prominent in the city each year — but two DJs and event organizers see a glaring misstep in the celebration's focus. "I feel that a lot of our community has forgotten our history, our struggle and the lives that have been lost," says Airick X, an event organizer and activist based out of Portland. "When our history is talked about, it's just Stonewall; but there was so much more beyond Stonewall."
Airick X is a founder and one of the masterminds behind Blow Pony, a Pacific Northwest group that puts on inclusive, radical events focused on elevating the art and people of the global queer community. He will deliver this effervescent and profound realness to the Mile High City via Blow Pony Denver, an alternative Pride dance party of sorts at the Compound this Saturday, June 20. Bringing out special guests like musician, artist and teacher TT The Artist from Baltimore and drag queen and visual and performance artist Vinsantos from New Orleans, Airwrick and his crew offer up a different kind of Pride experience.
"Vinsantos is an old friend of mine who started the New Orleans Drag School and they don't do the kind of drag that most people are used to," says Airick X. "It's drag that is a little more edgy, but it is full on performance art. The whole crowd feels the transformation — it's very witchy, very beautiful and very amazing."
Airick will also be DJing the event alongside Denver-based Lauren Zwicky "Lauren Zwicky A.K.A. Tha Bitch Prince," who is also co-organizing the event and has been putting on queer community-focused concerts and dance parties here in the city for a while. Zwicky was co-founder of Damn Gurl! a now defunct all-welcome, all-inclusive dance night that looked to tap into the same underrepresented group of individuals. Together, Zwicky and Airick X hope to create a wild, unique experience that also highlights the heroic backstory of the LGBTQ community, a tale that is often washed away in the corporate-sponsored plastic rainbow flag-waving mainstream celebrations.
"We've turned Pepsi away, Camel away, Red Bull away (as sponsors for Blow Pony events) — I'd rather work off of the money I get from my own community and make a solid event which is just as rocking and fun without taking money from those companies," says Airwrick X. "For queer people, we need to look at: where are these companies the rest of the year when we're having hardships, when we need them?"
It should be noted that though Airick X has been living in the Pacific Northwest for many years, he has a rooted history in Colorado's underground rave culture that thrived in the clubs and warehouses of the city in the '90s. Born and raised in Golden, Airick X was once known as Kid Cyberfire, one half of the the Sugar Twist Kids and the subject of a 1996 a Westword cover story, "Some Like it Hot." But beyond being a seminal club kid, party thrower, DJ and celebrity on Denver's once subterranean scene, Airick X is also an advocate, activist and voice for his community. At this weekend's Blow Pony event, the DJ will share just some of his personal story, part of which includes being committed to Charter Hospital in Colorado to be as he says, "de-gayed" when he was younger. His own life experience definitely speaks to why more voices in the LGBTQ community need to be heard, especially during this time of the year when Pride is the focus.
Saturday's Blow Pony event is open to all, and plans on bringing a seriously fun, one-of-a-kind party to those who choose to enter. "It is a place where the freaks, the queer folk, the trans folk, women and anyone else who wants to can gather in a safer environment," says Airick X. Zwicky notes that the two chose the Compound as the home for this edition of Blow Pony because it is an underutilized space in the queer community that has long been a welcome home to folks from all walks of life. "It is considered by most to be a quote-unquote "gay bar," but the Compound has an amazing dance floor and we thought it would be a good opportunity to get in somewhere that wasn't considered more of the mainstream in Denver."
Blow Pony Denver kicks off this Saturday, June 20 at 9 p.m. at the Compound in Denver, with performances by TT The Artist and Vinsantos and DJ sets from Airick X, Lauren Zwicky A.K.A. Tha Bitch Prince and Patrick Todd Coletti. The event is 21+ and costs $5 at the door. For more information, visit the event's Facebook page.
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Bree Davies is a writer, reporter and radio host born and raised in the Queen City of the Plains. An active member of the music community, she is the co-founder of Titwrench experimental music festival and co-host of Welcome to Rock Island, a podcast focused on the art and industry of music. Davies contributes regularly to Westword and has written for The A.V. Club, xoJane, Alternative Press and more about music, art, feminism, DIY culture and social justice issues. Follow Bree on Twitter.