For the last four years, a garden has been growing in San Francisco. It is a garden filled with women. Women of all shapes, sizes, ages, colors, abilities, socio-economic background, you name it, you’ll find these women in the garden. The garden is called EDEN and the gardener is the Divine Miz Chris, Christine de la Rosa.
Last year during Pride, I was new to San Francisco and hadn’t quite gotten the lay of the proverbial lesbianland. This year, I’ve met some great people and I am ready for a really great time with some amazing women. I am looking forward to four days of lesbian centered events that run the gamut from a fashion show by and for lesbians, a brunch, a comedy show and 3 nights of booty shakin with some of the country’s hottest female performers and DJ’s. Welcome to EDEN Pride Events Weekend.
EDEN Pride Events has been a growing force during Pride in San Francisco over the last 4 years. After arriving in the Bay Area as a temporary relocation for work five years ago, Miz Chris realized that this was her new home. And as the creator of www.butch-femme.com, she had plenty of friends and followers that were ready to welcome her with open arms. I sat down with Miz Chris to chat about how she brought her own brand of Texas hospitality to Northern California, and changed the lives of lesbians forever.
“I’ve been here for 5 years. I had been to San Francisco many times, as a queer person. I never thought I would live there. I loved Texas. I loved Dallas. I loved it all…so I came here for work in 2008, and I really thought I was going to go home,” and then, it seems, she caught the Bay Area Bug. “I got here and realized, I’m never going back to that place.” I understand, I caught the bug too when I moved here last year.
When I asked her how she got things going in her new home, she said it all grew from friends wanting to hang out and welcome her to town. “This one said let’s have coffee, the other one said let’s have dinner…I said to my friend, let’s throw a Welcome Party. I wanted to meet all of these people from butch-femme.com that were in the area…my friends in town all wanted me to meet their friends…so, I said how about if I throw a little welcome party. I invite my friends and you can invite the people you want me to meet…” So, what starts out as a friendly gathering of friends and a few followers, turns into 200 people showing up! Welcome to the Bay Area!
This lead to many other parties locally and a brief stint of party promotion for a local bar. When she started thinking about it, she remembered being struck by how few the options were for women in San Francisco during Pride. “When I got here for Pride in 2008, I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know where to go. I kept looking in the paper for something for girls. I mean the biggest party at the time was called Cockblock, but when you’re not from here, that sounds like a guy’s party…and you could ask around [about where to go]…it would be like, you can go to this, this and this. But, which is the party to be at? How do you know that this party is going to be like 5 people and this party is going to be like 500? So, I ended up not doing anything.”
After the bar went straight, it happens, she decided to host parties in Palm Springs. She called them Bliss. I’ve been to Palm Springs several times, it is certainly a blissful experience. Although these events were quite successful, after 41/2 years she decided she needed a beach and an ocean, so next year Bliss moves to Hawaii. She wants people to be able to relax and enjoy. “For a lot of people this is their vacation, for the entire year…and in Hawaii we’re going to be renting out an entire LGBT-owned resort in Maui.” So, keep your eyes open, it’ll be October 2014. You can bet I’ll be there for that!
As we’re talking she keeps saying things that help me understand what drives her to create these events for our community. It is her continued desire to give people, her people, an opportunity to come together and have a good time. “So I asked myself, why am I driving down to Palm Springs to do a four-day weekend, when no one is doing a four day weekend in San Francisco for Pride.” She has kept the same team with her the whole time. They had figured out the formula to give women a really good time by 2010. And although they’re not a huge production company, they’re a group of doers that believe in her vision of giving women a good time. “This is homegrown. To me, it feels very groundbreaking…it’s these women, mostly women of color, that don’t have a lot. But we’re putting it out there. We’re adding half a million to $750,000 into the economy [during Pride weekend]. This is really a labor of love for us.”
So, she and her team decided to embark on this new Pride journey. “I told everybody, if we have 500 [people] then we’re successful.” But, she wanted to be sure that they weren’t going to be just another party. “I told everybody that the thing we’re going to do differently, is we’re going to be inclusive…we’re not catering to [anyone], we want all of them to come…So, I said to my team, the only thing I’m only going to ask of you, is to make sure that every single person that walks in the door feels as if they belong there…don’t just hand them a flyer and walk away, engage them.” Punchline, the first year they had 1800 women!
And each year it has grown, 4000 the next year adding a block party, multiple venues, with a demographic range of 21 to 65 EDEN Pride Events is offering something for everyone. “We really consider a lot. I don’t think people understand [that]. We consider that the faces on the flyers are diverse faces…making sure that women are represented from as many different cultures as we can get. I think it’s important to have people see themselves reflected. I also think it’s important for people to experience other people…I do party activism. [whispering] I’m changing your mind. You just don’t know.” This is why the garden is full of many kinds of beautiful flowers. And now the garden has finally gotten its Eve. World famous recording artist, EVE will be headlining Saturday night’s party and Miz Chris couldn’t be more excited. “…I was like, do you think we could get Eve…all we can do is ask…she’s never performed in San Francisco before…she hasn’t performed in front of a live crowd in like 11 years…and they decided it would be perfect. We were like Oh My God! My hands were shaking when I signed the contract.”
This is going to be one of the best Pride weekends ever. When you create events that are a true labor of love, you’ll always come out with Pride!
EDEN Pride Events Weekend starts Thursday night with a fashion show hosted by America’s Next Top Model AZ Marie. Tickets for the weekend are selling out quickly. Get them now! www.edeninthebay.com