Here’s why this weird little Capitol Hill park is hosting a weekly summer DJ set

PlayThey: Top row (left to right): Jasper Fox, Brian is Ze, Jazz Goldman
Bottom Row: Kara Phoebe, Neve Be, Joy Ma
Not pictured: Christian Radler

A triangular park in front of one of the most unique office buildings in the world isn’t your typical venue for summer DJ dancing. THiRST, a weekly all-ages party, is putting the unassuming McGilvra Place Park along E Madison at 15th into motion every Friday through summer.

‘THiRST is a queer/femme DJ event. I started off go-go dancing in the gay scene being kind of like the ‘hot oddity,’ in the room,” Kara Phoebe says.

After working in many different entertainment industries and watching friends barred from different venues and areas for being “too intersectional,” Phoebe was inspired to start a collective of seven queer artists with the goal of being as accessible as possible.

PlayThey started as a fashion, styling, and photography operative, growing into events and more over the past two years.

“Hugh Hefner started Playboy, an image entertainment empire based on his own sexual interests,” Phoebe said. As a joke, Phoebe said to a friend, “I have more varied tastes than him, I joked I could make a thing called PlayThey and realized, I was only kind of kidding.”

PlayThey puts on a number of performances in venues across Capitol Hill. For their second year, PlayThey is reviving the weekly summer DJ in the park event, free to all ages and open to anyone who wants to stop by for some live DJ music and inclusive, welcoming conversation in the park.

THiRST started out at another venue in North Capitol Hill creating a space for those queer/femme artists to perform and were kicked out the first time. In response to that, Phoebe and crew brought THiRST out to the park.

“Femme artists are part of the Hill. You’re not going to get rid of us,” Phoebe says. “We have a sponsor now, FLUX, the trans and queer sector of the AIDS Health Foundation. They’re sponsoring the event this summer because they’re really about trying to push back.”

“I pitched the event to them earlier this spring and they really agreed with me and believed that we have to make more public space. The visibility and the disruption is part of what makes it important.”

“Families will roll through, people who are on their way out for the night – it’s like a mixture of people who are out for the night, a mixture of people stopping for a minute, listening to music and chatting with us,” Phoebe said. “We will have Zines out, and altars honoring trans and queer people who have passed. I have lived in other cities where shit like this is always happening in the Summer, there’s always something free and outdoors and non-obligatory that you can just pass through. I want to bring that here.”

THiRST is held every Friday now through August 31st at McGilvra Place (1425 E Madison) from 5 to 10 PM.

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