Whether it's valid or not, Chicago has longtime struggled to shake the reputation of being New York City and Los Angeles' baby sibling. Recently, however, the city's queer nightlife has begun stoking its cultural embers in a way that doesn't look to larger metropoles for inspiration, but defines its own scene unlike any other. Now, we're watching them—they're not watching us.
Art collective IT Presents has been a major backbone in fostering Chicago's LGBTQ nightlife, using the underground environment to create original intersectional moments between performance art, drag, music and fashion. Composed of Abhijeet, An Authentic Skidmark, Ariel Zetina, Bon Bon, Imp Queen and Scott Cramer, the queer assembly is a mix of various cultural experts, from fashion designers to producers and party promoters.
Throughout the past year, IT Presents has created parties across Chicago, inviting guests and collaborators, like BCALLA, Seth Bogart, Ryan Burke. Previous events have also been used to benefit various communities and organizations, like Black Youth Project, Oakland Ghost Ship Fire victims and The Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation.
In honor of IT Presents' one-year anniversary, which they'll celebrate tomorrow at Boystown's Berlin Nightclub, the collective has curated three exclusive pieces of queer content: A political zine by Teen Witch Fan Club, downloadable coloring book by Jacob Blank and mix by DJ Ariel Zetina. Learn about all the works, below, and RSVP to IT Presents' anniversary party, here.
"Nightlife has always been a very enriching and welcoming environment to create art and experience identity in," IT Presents' Abhijeet told OUT. "But it has always been a space where one can easily be taken advantage of. This zine is a compilation of thoughts, coping mechanisms and resources we have found to be useful when navigating nightlife as curators, promoters, performers and members of the audience. We strive to create a safer space, a braver space, a free-er space, an IT space."
"IT Presents is the party collective that is making America great again," Blank told OUT. "If it's not IT Presents, it's probably shit presents. IT Presents brings the most fierce and underrepresented artists in Chicago together to shine. IT Presents doesn't hold back... oh, at all."
IT Presents: "Suburban Urban Jungle" by DJ Ariel Zetina
"This mix features many tracks that premiered at IT parties by regulars," Zetina told OUT, including in her tracklist a collaboration with RuPaul's Drag Race finalist Kim Chi.