Our conversation is regularly punctuated by dreamy exclamations: “Oh, wowww!” “Totally groovy!” “That’s amaaazing!” and—most common of all—“I love it!” Oh has a right to be happy; her conceptual barefoot dinner party/DJ dance spectacular and snuggle-friendly sleepover has become one of the hottest tickets in town. That’s doubly impressive when you find out it’s a party without a bar.
“We went back and forth for a long time about whether we were going to permit drugs and alcohol,” Oh tells me, “but we ultimately opted to build an experience that offered conscious clarity. How rare is it, as an adult, to have a space where you can go out, have fun, and see what you can do on your own without any chemical encouragement? I’m not saying that’s necessary every night, but why not allow one lucid night out in your adult life?”
Brooklyn’s Bushwick Starr has developed a reputation as a cutting-edge room for new theater by young playwrights, but it’s hardly a nightclub. So exactly what’s happening here? Oh’s Love Party is an intentional attempt at community building, explicitly geared toward creating a playground for underserved populations.
“The event is designed for queer and trans people of color—QTPoC—and their allies,” she explains. When I joke that the only one of those terms that describes me is “people,” Oh laughs and says, “You’ll fit right in! As long as you show up holding the space and the people within it with care, are willing to calibrate your moral compass to where the room is, and come to celebrate love, you are entirely welcome!”
The event’s name and marketing (a free-of-charge “aphrodisiac tea” is served all night) suggests a sex-positive atmosphere, which Oh demurely acknowledges, with the caveat that the space is entirely consent driven.
“We’re asking people to explicitly sign off on a code of community conduct upon entering,” Oh explains. “Part of that code is that if you want to be naked and if you want to touch someone, and they want to touch you back, we’re not policing that. At the same time, sex isn’t the purpose of The Infinite Love Party. The core goal is to engender an atmosphere where QTPoC can be themselves and feel comfortable, cared for, and beautiful as they luxuriate in their whole self. That’s a rare environment for a lot of us, and we want to offer it without judgment or unnecessary restrictions. So if being around trans people of color being themselves is going to disturb you, this probably isn’t your jam. But if you’re here for it, no matter who you are, then hell, yeah: Let’s do this shit!”
Well, I was here for it…er, there for it, and I can report the evening was a charming, fun, and engaging experience: an open-minded version of the small-town, church potlucks of my youth. With a lot more nudity.
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Upon climbing the stairs to Bushwick Starr’s tinsel-strewn theater, I was instructed to drop off my coat and boots on hangers by the DJ booth and leave my contribution to the group dinner (a $25 sack of assorted sweets from Economy Candy) on a designated table in the back. The next half hour was spent walking around on the lightly patchouli-scented foam floor; chatting with fellow partyers; doing a bit of finger-painting on an open wall; swaying on the pair of swings hanging from the rafters; and making small talk with one of the many circulating “Super Queero Heart Questers,” bedazzled and leotarded friendly party docents who, in Oh’s words, “lead and welcome the visitors, giving anyone who comes permission to be their elevated self. They’re not in character; they’re just who they are.”
The evening began in earnest with a particularly tasty and wide-ranging potluck dinner, leading into a Dope Motherfucker Award presentation for “amazing contributions in the realms of sex, queerness, and collective liberation.” On the evening I attended, the awardee was Dawn Orlando, owner of Funkadelic Studios, named Dopest of Mofos for her support of young artists. A group of loosely structured and occasionally improvisational “liberated performances” followed: a stream-of-consciousness monologue about being “queer, married to a woman, and being a father”; discussion about sexuality and cerebral palsy (“I’m horny all the time”); a spur-of-the-moment marriage ceremony between a Quester and an audience member (“We’re together for at least tonight”); and a brief bit of shtick on shtupping (“You’re going to want to flick your first two fingers like bunny ears”).
A group housecleaning to purge the many paper plates and plastic cups we had amassed over dinner led into a 40-minute disco party, featuring the aforementioned nudity, a lot of sweating, and a joyful, all-in parachute dance with the most extroverted attendees writhing together under the multicolored fabric and the rest of us lofting a canopy over them. This embrace of childlike (not “childish”) pleasure is entirely on brand for Oh, who stressed that while The Infinite Love Party is neither a play nor a play party, there’s certainly meant to be constant opportunity to play.
Group exhaustion following the dancing made it easy for everyone, as instructed, to lie down side by side on the floor. Oh, on ukulele, serenaded the group with a soft ballad whose repeated chorus was “Let the light break in.” At the end, she offered a line that might best sum up the sweetly inclusive and no-stress nature of the evening: “You are invited to sing along however you want to sing; I’m just going to stay on this F chord.” As the last sung notes slowly faded out, a lingering calm hung over the room. Slowly, the party broke up. Everyone put back on their shirts and shoes, exchanged phone numbers and Instagram handles, stopped by the all-gender bathrooms, then disappeared into the night, a bit more connected and hopeful than they had been only a few hours before.
Following great press, The Infinite Love Party has both extended its run and sold out completely, but the venue promises that wait-list tickets to each performance will be made available starting at 7:30 p.m. before each show. Given the Party’s open setup, it’s likely worth taking the chance that they’ll be able to squeeze you in, so don’t miss the opportunity to take part in this one-of-a-kind evening.
Diana Oh’s The Infinite Love Party
The Bushwick Starr
207 Starr Street, Bushwick
Through Saturday, February 2
Wait-list sign-up at 7:30 p.m.; show at 8 p.m.