Anthony DiFiore and his partner used to throw house parties, which gave birth to Neverland mega parties after a Boystown bar manager came to one of their small house parties and suggested they try it in a nightclub.
The first few Neverland parties were theme-less costume parties, "and then suddenly we started to get really ambitious when we realized we could grow the brand into something that could get national attention," said DiFiore, who admitted that he never envisioned getting into event production.
"I'm a big theater-head, and I go to a lot of concerts, so I have an eye for what kind of production will excite people. It also helps that my partner is a really creative costume designer. What I love about event production is, it doesn't feel like work. I've never been so excited about anything in my life, and I think that the excitement of our whole creative team permeates through the experience of each party."
DiFiore and crew are approaching their third year planning events, particularly large gay dance parties. In 2014, they branched out into private and corporate events.
DiFiore said the most memorable event he's ever planned was the most recent Purity Ball at Nikki Chicago ( the former Crobar ). "A lot of people doubted that we could pull off throwing a big event on a random Friday of a random weekend in December," he said. "But we packed Nikki, lots of people came out in costume, and we got some of our best reviews ever. What I love about Neverland is that each party is themed, and our creative team lives the theme for the months leading up to the event. It becomes an obsession. We do photo-shoots to express the theme; we make costumes, build production, etc."
DiFiore said his career goals are reaching Ric Sena or Jeffrey Sanker status. "Our team is very creative and hard-working. We've only been doing this for two years. Wait until year five," he said.
Their Ratchet Ball was probably the most fun event in terms of people's reaction, he said. "People either loved it or hated it. On one hand we had genderqueer groups berating us for throwing an event that they thought was 'culturally insensitive,' [yet] on the other hand we had promoters around the country who were inspired by us and created their own Ratchet Ball.
"Getting to define what was ratchet, [such as] a boxed wine headpiece, or making the dancers where grills on their teeth, was the best part. Of all the themes we've ever done, our team is most excited to bring Ratchet Ball back someday."
DiFiore said his crew is planning three big dance parties around Chicago's Pride weekend.
Neighborhood: Originally from Philadelphia, has lived in Chicago for four years; resides in Lake View
Hobbies: "Traveling, skiing, the gym, and going to other big gay dance parties around the world, so I can learn from the best."
Relationship status: Partnered
Job title: Owner and creative director of Neverland Events, LLC
Best part of the job: "Making people happy."
Worst part of the job: "Managing the occasional diva."
College: Has a bachelor's degree in economics from St. Joseph's University.
Favorite TV show: Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones
What's "in" for 2015 event: "Putting effort and creativity into a party. Hard work stands out."