Behind the Scenes with Stimulus Philly

Flash back to circa 2008 in Philly. Ladies that were of age to go out at that time, let’s be honest – our nightlife options were, shall we say, limited. It seemed that the boys dominated all of the spots in the gayborhood, save for Sister’s – which is a fine option if you’re looking for a club with no windows hidden in a back alleyway that could desperately use a renovation.

Stimulus Philly

Stimulus Producers Amber & Morgan Photo credit: Tara Beth Robertson

That’s when Morgan Levine and Amber Hikes had the brilliant idea to start Stimulus Productions. “For a long time, I was discouraged by what I viewed as a lack of social consciousness on the part of business owners and promoters in our community,” said Amber. “I felt strongly that the women in this city deserved a more radical and intentional nightlife space that accurately reflected the diversity of our community.”

“Our first Stimulus party was actually a fundraiser for the Philadelphia Dyke March,” said Morgan. “A dyke march member suggested the name, and we thought it fit perfectly – not only did the Dyke March need a financial stimulus, but the lesbian community felt like it needed to be rejuvenated.”

That first party was held at Stir Lounge, and drew about 150 attendees. The ladies were floored that so many people came to support that they decided to have a second event, and moved the location to Marathon at 10th and Walnut. Four years later, Stimulus parties are still going stronger than ever, averaging more than 600 attendees.

“I think people appreciate seeing themselves in Stimulus,” explains Amber. “We’re mindful of every little detail – from the style of music the DJs play, to the size and racial diversity reflected in our shot crew and go-go dancers.” Morgan seconds that notion: “Anyone walking into a Stimulus party will notice it’s different than walking into any other party or bar – there are hundreds of LGBTQ of different races, sizes, presentations, etc.”

As Stimulus grew, people began to ask the ladies to produce all types of events for the community. Over the years, they’ve hosted speed dating events, talent showcases, movie screenings, and happy hours. However, they’re careful to not stray too far outside of their comfort zone. “We enjoy branching out from nightlife events every once in a while, but we’re mindful of our strengths and weaknesses,” says Amber. “We’re not trying to be everything to everybody. If you start trying to do everything, you’ll end up doing nothing particularly well.”

Photo collage provided by Stimulus Philly

 

One faction of Stimulus that’s extremely important to both Morgan & Amber is Stimulus Gives Back, which gives those interested an opportunity to volunteer and give back to the community. Over the years, Stimulus Gives Back has sorted food for families in need at Philabundance, packed care packages for children at Cradle to Crayons, lent wo-manpower to DVLF for their annual fundraiser TOY, and cleaned up parks with Greater Philadelphia CARES. “It’s always been important for us to show that being LGBTQ isn’t just about a great party. We are apart of the larger community around us, and it’s important for us to be visible in positive ways,” explains Morgan.

Moving forward, the ladies are looking to get back to basics and focus on hosting smaller events in addition to the larger ones. “While we love the way Stimulus has grown over the last few years, we really miss its humble beginnings,” says Amber. “The parties have grown over the years and we’ve moved around quite a bit, but in 2013, our goal is to stay true to our roots,” adds Morgan.

 

For more information about Stimulus Philly, visit www.stimulusphilly.com. Click here to RSVP to the Black & White Party on November 30, and to stay up to date on all of the Stimulus events, Like their Facebook page!

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