Happy 4th of July!!! We’re super excited to be co-hosting the photo booth TONIGHT with Posture Magazine at the Hot Rabbit 3rd Anniversary Party!! Since this party is THE place to be tonight if you’re queer and in NYC, we caught up with Emily Hall Smith, the creator of Hot Rabbit. Hot Rabbit is NYC’s biggest weekly LGBTQ dance party, and Emily is the secret bunny behind the curtain. She, along with a fantastic team of staff at the Monster, go-go dancers, photographers, and an ever-expanding cast of local and international DJs and performance artists, brings NYC’s queer community something different every week, in a space that many now consider their homo away from home. And on that note, be sure to catch us plus some hot and sexy Play Out underwear models at Hot Rabbit at 11pm tonight!
Play Out: On Friday, we’re going to be celebrating the 3rd anniversary of Hot Rabbit. Are you excited? What was your initial inspiration or what led you to launch a Friday night queer party 3 years ago, in the first place?
Emily Hall Smith: I’m incredibly excited for our 3-Year Anniversary Party! It’s amazing and surreal that Hot Rabbit has happened for over 150 Fridays in a row now. Back when I started Hot Rabbit it was at a small East Village bar called Heathers, a queer-operated space with a mixed crowd, and JD Samson was one of our first DJs. Then after we grew a bit we moved to the East Village gay bar Nowhere, and then eventually to our current home at the Monster in the West Village – which is actually the oldest gay dance floor in NYC – a landmark! My goal for Hot Rabbit has always been to create an event that truly belonged to everyone in the queer community, so that we could all celebrate our togetherness and our shared strength, and I wanted everyone who walked through the door with a positive attitude to feel welcome. So with that in mind, I reached out to performers, DJs, dancers, and collaborators of all different styles and backgrounds hoping that bringing in a diverse group of people to help orchestrate the party each week would in turn bring in an ever increasingly diverse crowd as partygoers. I also wanted to keep things changing week to week, and to expose the Manhattan LGBTQ community to some of the art that was really blossoming in Brooklyn.
PO: Wow! 150 Fridays! Do you feel as if you have accomplished what you set out to accomplish when you first started this event?
EHS: With every year that goes by, Hot Rabbit has grown closer and closer to that sort of utopian vision I had when I first started working on it. We are a more diverse crowd than ever, there is less tension between all of us who attend and also between our partygoers and the spaces that we have joined, and I can say that everyone who is part of the production team – from bartenders and barbacks, to DJs, to go-gos and drag queens – really treats Hot Rabbit like a family and the Monster like a home. The Hot Rabbit audience is also an overwhelmingly positive, open-minded, patient, and peaceful crowd. I’ve had a lot of pressure over the years, especially initially, to define the event as belonging to one faction of the queer community or another – Is it too queer? Is it not queer enough? What does that even mean? – and I’ve pushed back hard on that to keep it as multi-faceted and open as possible, and I definitely feel like I’ve succeeded in that goal.
PO: Do you have a favorite memory of a specific Hot Rabbit celebration?
EHS: Ooo that’s a tough one, there are so many. I’d say our Halloween parties are my favorite event of the year. And I love when a couple comes up to me and tells me it’s their anniversary and that they met at Hot Rabbit, which happens pretty frequently. Then there was that time Ruthie from Real World: Hawaii showed up and free-styled on stage, which was pretty awesome!
PO: You’ve done a few “Hot Rabbit Presents…” such as the Dandy/ette party, do you have any other Hot Rabbit-hosted themed parties in mind that you already have planned or are hoping to do?
EHS: I’d definitely like to do another Dandy/ette 1920′s themed party at Madame X this fall, it was so much fun to see everyone dressed up and we had an incredible dance/drag performance choreographed by the Haus of Sweat’s Boy Georgia. I’m always thinking about the next step and am open to any opportunities that come my way to keep surprises coming for the Hot Rabbit crowd, so I’m sure there will be more Hot Rabbit Presents… events in the not so distant future.
PO: There’s going to be a lot going on at the party on Friday – hair cuts, performances, a photo booth! What should people be sure not to miss at the party?
EHS: I really like to go all out for our Anniversary parties and this year we have so many amazing people involved. We have some favorite Hot Rabbit performers – the pop/dance/african/vogue band Shirley House, and the #G.I.A.N.T. (literally) rapper Will Sheridan. We have DJ Ches and DJ Eleganza from NYC and an opening set by Australia’s DJ Amanda Louise. We have a photo booth by Posture Magazine and Play Out Underwear (that’s us!) with sexy underwear models and prizes from Em16 tattoos and Play Out. We have free on stage haircuts by Liz Wright of Muze Salon. Basically it’s going to be like a big gay carnival – in the best way possible! People can get in for free all night by saying the password “Firework” at the door.
PO: Describe your personal style in 5 words or less, or in a single sentence.
EHS: Bold, bright, abstract, accidentally Mad Men, intentionally minimalist
Be sure to check out Hot Rabbit on all your social media sites, and we hope to see you tonight at the anniversary party!!