If your New Year’s resolution is to make new friends, these New York queer pop-up community dining and sip events might help you meet your new bestie.
Some of these events feature newbies just hitting the scene, while some others involve pop-ups established for more than five years.
There’s a queer dinner and cocktail party for every LGBTQ person in the Big Apple: In total, there are nearly 20 queer pop-up dinner parties and roving bars around the city.
Gay City News chatted with the organizers of six queer pop-up dinner parties and roving bars to find out what queers today are hungry for and what makes their parties so irresistible in the city that never sleeps.
Now is “the perfect time for these types of concepts to take root,” said Austa Somvichian-Clausen, founder of Grotto. “There really is like a reinvigoration of spaces for queer women happening around the country. I just really want to be a part of that.”
Pre-pandemic, lesbian bars in the United States were closing left and right. The number dwindled to 21 from its height of around 200, according to The Lesbian Bar Project. Once people were allowed to gather again, lesbian bars got a boost with three new bars opening in Chicago; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, DC. Queer women were more than thirsty to be out in the community again. The younger generation (Millennials and Gen Z) want more than just a club with thumping music; they want an experience and community.
“We don’t have to just have dive bars and dance clubs,” said Somvichian-Clausen, 29, a pansexual woman and freelance spirits writer who simply wanted a chic spot to be with her girlfriend, lesbian artist Victoria “Tori” Geddes, 31, and her friends. “We can also have a space that feels beautiful, comfortable, upscale, and elevated, and all of those things while also still remaining inclusive to the community.”
Chef Liz Alpern, a 38-year-old self-identified dyke who launched Queer Soup Night, agreed.
“There’s a real electricity in the air that has kind of continued since 2017,” said Alpern, who launched the food event that year to be in a queer political community and support community organizations. “I think people are looking to gather so that they can feel supported and re-motivated to keep going.”
Alex Koones, founder and host of the Babetown and Kitchen Table, simply found she liked hosting parties for queer people in college, but the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida in 2016 took it to a new level of creating a safe space for the community. Her new spinoff, The Kitchen Table, is focused on building ethical nonmonogamous and polyamorous communities.
“The Kitchen Table is really just me wanting a community of queer people to like talk to about nonmonogamy and polyamory,” said Koones, 34, a self-described dyke. “The Kitchen Table is really a good example of me just building something that I would want to attend.”
Jewish Chef Jake Cohen, a self-described “nice Jewish boy” from Queens who hosts a weekly Shabbat dinner with his Persian-Iraqi husband, Alex Shapiro, said there is now greater demand for in-person gatherings.
“One of the big takeaways is that people want to be more present more and more present with those they love,” said Cohen, who hosts the dinners through OneTable.
Alpern, Cohen, Koones, and Somvichian-Clausen all said people are showing up. Hungry and thirsty? Check out these upcoming queer dinner events:
Babetown is a monthly dinner party for queer women that attracts upward of 25 guests — slightly less than half the 40 guests Koones hosted before the pandemic. Babetown became more than a casual monthly dinner affair after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida in 2016. This very popular roving queer dinner party is hosted in private homes and apartments in New York’s five boroughs. Tickets are coveted. They sell out quickly.
Babetown’s Babetines event — slated for February 11-12, 7 p.m.-12 a.m. in Crown Heights — is already sold out. Tickets are $49.87 per person. Register to be placed on the waitlist.
Follow Babetown on Instagram to be alerted about future events.
If you’ve never been to a Dyke Beer event, you are missing out. The roving dyke bar that takes over bars and restaurants throughout New York’s five boroughs is like honey to bees, but in this case, it’s beers to queers. Hosted by Dyke Beer owners Loretta Andro Chung and Sarah Hallonquist, Dyke Beer events are the rebirth of the formerly popular NYC Dyke Bar Takeover, where the two friends and brewery owners met. They took over as hosts of NYC Dyke Bar Takeover about five years ago (not counting the pandemic year, 2020) and revived it as soon as it was safe to gather again. They turn out some of the city’s most interesting and must-know queer women.
The next Dyke Beer event is Dyke Beer Speed Dating, February 1, 6:30 – 9 p.m., at Winemak’Her Bar, 492 5th Avenue, Brooklyn. Tickets are $17 per person. RSVP.
For more information, visit Dyke Beer.
The Kitchen Table
Koones launched The Kitchen Table, a queer poly and ethical non-monogamy pop-up dinner, in September 2022. Like Babetown, the dinner party roves around New York’s five boroughs hosted in private homes. It sells out quickly. The next two The Kitchen Table events are already sold out. Tickets to both events are $49.87 per person.
This month’s event is January 28-29 from 7 p.m.-12 a.m. in Brooklyn (address provided after RSVP). RSVP is required.
The Kitchen Table’s February event, Cruising is on February 18-19 from 7 p.m.-12 a.m. in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, but is already sold out. RSVP is required.
Register to be placed on the waitlist. Follow Babetown on Instagram to be alerted about future events.
Grotto at Ludlow House
Somvichian-Clausen launched Grotto, a new queer cocktail lounge, at Ludlow House in Manhattan January 8.
Grotto offers queer women an elevated light and savory brunch and evening menus and Grotto’s signature cocktails in a chic loungey space.
Grotto is happening now through February 26 every Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at Ludlow House in the Lower East Side. Reservations are required.
For more information about Grotto, email [email protected] or visit Grotto.
Queer Soup Night
Since 2017, the monthly pop-up, Queer Soup Night, has brought like-minded activists and queer people together over a bowl of soup to raise money for local organizations. A host of queer chefs make soup for a cause monthly during the winter, spring, and fall.
Since its founding six years ago, Queer Soup Night has donated more than $100,000 for a variety of causes and Queer Soup Nights have popped up across the United States, Alpern said.
The next Queer Soup Night, Lazy Sunday Soup, is Sunday, January 29 from 2 to 6 p.m. at C’mon Everybody, 325 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn. Chefs Pri Aguilr, Renae Wilson, Dear Henry Fine Southern Cooking, Zoe Adjonyoh, and Alpern will feature a new soup each hour. Donations will support the NYC Anti-Violence Project. Open to the public. No reservations. Donate what you can.
For more information, follow Queer Soup Night on Instagram.
Upwards of 150 known community-led Shabbat dinners are hosted throughout New York weekly through OneTable. Many of the dinners are queer led. Cohen and Shapiro host one of many of OneTable’s queer shabbat dinners in New York City. OneTable was launched in 2014. The organization supports Shabbat dinners in 470 cities across the US as of 2022.