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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Party Noire events all about female Black joy
by Melissa Wasserman
2017-03-22

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Chicagoans can dance it out when Party Noire plays Black joy on repeat.

Party Noire is a dance party that began as an idea to bring Black creative millennials together for the celebration of "melanin+women," as the organizers call the concept. Lauren Ash, Nick Alder and DJ Rae Chardonnay co-founded Party Noire and kicked off the series in September 2015 when they saw a lack of these types of spaces and the need to have a social gathering for celebrating Black women.

"We, prior to Party Noire, had all met and kind of vibed together and respected one another's individual projects and individual energies," said Ash. "So, when we got together, we all agreed that what we saw missing from the landscape of Chicago at the time was a party, in particular a day party space that centered on Black women and that also provided a platform for Black female DJs to do their thing. We were just really passionate about starting something that also focused on this idea of Black joy."

Party Noire celebrates womanhood along the gender spectrum and holds space especially for queer, trans and gender non-conforming Black people. The event exists with the tag line "Black joy. In all ways. Always."

Chardonnay described the scene as an elevated space in terms of energy and is extremely dance friendly, adding that from the beginning the team knew that music was a huge component of the party.

Old- and new-school hip-hop, funk, R&B, soul, house and everything in between is spun at Party Noire. All the music keeps with the theme of embracing Blackness as it is either composed, written or performed by artists of color.

The co-founders emphasized the idea of intersectionality at Party Noire, saying people "can be their most free authentic, Black, colorful and queer self."

"I think every party is definitely unique in its own right because we take time to curate experiences that are expansive of just different things," said Alder. "We never have the same experience at every single party, but what makes us unique and what makes us different is our mission of Black joy that should be highlighted and expressed."

With its home base being The Promontory, Party Noire also activates other spaces around Chicago and beyond and has multiple parties throughout the month, which are listed on its website. The Party Noire also collaborates with various other organizations as hosts.

This year the co-founders said Party Noire will be expanding with some non-party activations, while using the Party Noire model and additionally traveling more to bring the party to other major cities.

"It's not to say that there aren't dope Black people who care about Black joy and Black community and things like that everywhere, but the particular way we're holding the space and crafting the space is really necessary and is, I think, really cathartic and also still real fun and altogether meaningful, so we're really excited to continue to pop up in various cities and share the love," said Ash.

"I think it's important for Black women, in general, to have a presence," said Chardonnay. "Particularly, with who we are choosing to collaborate with, those organizations or those people are already putting Black women at the forefront and Black people at the forefront, so if we could use our platform to continue or to help do that or broaden that, I think that it's important that we do that and that we have the room to do that and the organizations and people we collaborate with trust us to do that. There's actually a growing number of Black women and Black people at the forefront of many things, and I think that it's important that we're maintaining that across the board as often as we can."

To learn more about Party Noire, visit ThePartyNoire.com .


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