Kristen Porter has a knack for filling rooms. Having hosted the iconic Dyke Night and innumerable other events for a span of 20 years, the longtime promoter, researcher, and LGBTQ advocate simply puts the word out—in the case of this week’s pre-Valentine’s Day festivities at the Milky Way in JP, the invite promises, among other lures, “designer pizza,” “cosmic cocktails,” and DJ Maryalice of Ptown’s Boatslip Tea Dance—and people come from near and far to party.
Nevertheless, at this particular Dyke Night, there is yet another reason to ride the Orange Line to Stony Brook on Saturday—for the history. Two decades worth.
We asked Porter about the impressive milestone, and about this weekend’s Traffic Light festivity.
Has it dawned on you for a while that 20 years was right around the corner? Or did it just kind of creep up on you like when golden anniversary editions of the albums you grew up listening to pop up in your Google ads?
It was brought to my attention when I was voted the 2017 Boston Pride Grand Marshal. What an amazing and unusual thing to be hosting parties as long as your patrons have been alive.
Can you give us a quick snapshot of Boston nightlife in 1998 and tell us what about it led you to see a space for Dyke Night?
1998 is not all that different from 2018—there are no full time “lesbian bars” in Boston, and not many regular “lesbian nights.” I detailed a thorough history on how it all came about, in my living room, at [the Dyke Night website].
What specs do you recall about the first Dyke Night? Place, music, DJ, give us what you got.
It was such a blast. The first event we asked for a suggested $2 donation at the door for our HIV prevention efforts—it was a Thursday night at the Midway Cafe in JP. We made up goodie bags for all the guests. We had no idea what to expect—there were no lesbian nights/events in Boston at that time. We left with a little money to buy supplies for our homeless outreach, and with a big heart [from] the love and support of all who joined us. That event became weekly and I hosted it at that venue for six years.
A lot of people from a lot of different cities and other countries have visited Dyke Night in their time living here. What’s your rep with the LGBTQ community at large? How much has Boston set the stage for other cities?
They say “imitation is the best form of flattery”—my parties have been used as a model for events in other cities. Locally, when I create and nurture “a scene” at a venue I place attention to every detail of the consumer experience, including how the event will support the community. Venues have tried to run with them to increase their own profits, but my loyal fan base supports my events because of the quality, integrity, creativity, and community giveback that is the Kristen Porter Presents signature.
Regarding “my rep with the LGBTQ community at large” … probably has less to do with events and more for my contributions as a gerontologist. My work/research/activism/advocacy in LGBTQ, especially transgender, aging and older adults with HIV has been featured, presented, and published worldwide.
In your signature Traffic Light parties, you provide “a wearable way to make meeting other singles easy via green, yellow, or red dog tags. Green means go (single), Yellow take it slow and Red means stop (taken)!” Is this a time-tested methodology? Were there any wrinkles that you had to work out early on in the development stage?
We’ve used colored dog tags and glow bracelets—both are fun and we switch it up. I consistently hear from attendees that they love the complimentary swag to make it easier to meet someone single.
What does a proper 20-year Dyke Night look like?
Join us to see for yourself.
DYKE NIGHT TRAFFIC LIGHT PARTY ON (PRE)VALENTINE’S WEEKEND. MILKY WAY AT THE BREWERY, JAMAICA PLAIN. SAT 2.10. 10PM/$10/21+. DYKENIGHT.COM FOR INFO AND TICKETS.