When a Tinder date doesn’t blossom into a romantic connection, the obvious alternative is to become besties, and for up-and-coming party promoters Marissa Barrera and Kate Ross, that’s exactly what happened. The duo met two years ago after moving to the Washington D.C. area. Looking to add more queer friends to their friends’ list, they began attending many monthly parties and became regulars on the scene. It didn’t take long for them to notice a changing landscape in the scene, and together, they sought to be a part of the solution.
With Barrera and Ross’ business savvy and focus on interpersonal connections, The Coven DC has quickly become one of the largest monthly queer women’s parties in the DMV. “We could see people wanted more options,” says Ross. “So in November we were like, ‘What if we just started a Facebook event and invited all of the lesbians we know?’” And that’s exactly what they did. With a nod to the ever popular American Horror Story, The Coven DC has been gaining traction every month since its inception at Nellies Sports Bar.
“We’re trying to focus on community building and giving people a space to get to know one another,” says Barrera, who has experience in political organizing. “We make an effort to say hi to everyone that comes in and introduce people to each other,” she adds. After spending a month at the 930 Club’s Backbar, the duo moved their event to Smith Public Trust, where they remain steadfast in their mission to provide a safe queer space for all.
Today, the event has grown to attract over 300 queer women and some of the best underground local queer musical talent on the East Coast. Ross, who works in the music industry and owns two businesses, makes it a priority to bring queer talent to the DJ Booth. “I wanted to showcase the talent from all over the area,” says Ross, who has booked talents like DJ Trillnatured, Alex DB, and others. “For me, it’s about bringing people together, supporting local talent, and building community. That’s really important to me.”
But The Coven DC is more than just a place to party. With a focus on community, Barrera and Ross are expanding their brand to a monthly book club, hosted at Busboys and Poets, and connecting with LGBTQ non-profit organizations like SMYAL to raise funds and awareness. With inclusive partners and social events like these, the brand is expanding to interests that span beyond the party platform in hopes to connect the queer women’s community in a larger, more meaningful way.
After all, both Ross and Barrera know the struggle of making new friends and connections within the lesbian community.
“It’s hard being new at a party,” explains Ross, “and it’s especially hard when you’re just looking to make friends.”
The Coven DC’s Pride event will be Friday, June 3 at Smith Public Trust and will feature music by Factory Girls with an opening set by DJ Jacq Jill.