First Fridays Kick-Start Denver’s Sapphic Scene
Photo: Bob Ashe
Perhaps when you think of raging girl parties, you think of big cities like New York, San Francisco or, home of The Dinah, Palm Springs. You might not once think of the rustic terrain of Denver, Colorado as home to quite possibly the largest women’s party in the country. However, event guru Dede Frain has all but created the lesbian scene in her neck of the woods with her First Friday parties at Tracks Nightclub.
“I’ve had people come in from San Francisco, New York, Chicago and all the big cities and they said there’s nothing like it anywhere else in the country,” beams Frain. Kicking off in 2003, First Friday is but one of Frain’s many social networking and charitable endeavors through her community organization Babes Around Denver or simply BAD. Started merely from a mass e-mail organizing a happy hour, First Fridays went from a humble attendance of about 120 women to upwards of 2,000 women last year. No longer sustainable by The Church Nightclub, the party moved in 2007 to Tracks, the largest LGBT club in Denver.
What can a girl expect from a First Friday experience? Variety is a safe word to use. Frain opens doors at 6 pm with an intended purpose. “I made a clear decision early on to include the diversity in the community and by that I mean age, lifestyle, ethnicity, etc,” she says. “So we open doors early, recognizing that the older gals want to come out early.” From 6 pm to 8 pm, Tracks is home to Denver’s country western element and those who want to cut a rug to some classic country hits. From there, DJ Trina J takes over, spinning beloved disco and 80s favorites until the time is right to take it up a notch with hip hop and club beats. “She totally rocks it,” says Frain. “I think she’s made a huge difference in satisfying women with music, which as most of us know in the lesbian world, that is our challenge.” Frain says typical attendance has reached around 1,500 partiers every month.
While Frain intends First Fridays to be inclusive across generations, it is still very much a girl’s turf. “We are very open to all of the LGBT community, so we do have some men in there, a small percentage, but mostly women,” she says.
If you’re going to party, why not party for a cause? Quarterly, Frain selects a number of different charities and donates a portion of First Friday proceeds. Even DJ Trina J has her own philanthropic efforts, particularly with national chapters of The Human Society. “Her dream is to go to different lesbian events all over the county and donate to the dogs,” says Frain. “She’s been doing that basically going on three years and it’s just a fabulous thing.”
Aside from First Fridays, Frain’s mind is always on expanding Colorado’s lesbian scene. She is currently working on parties in Boulder for those who can’t make it out to Denver as well as bigger events. “A women’s weekend in Colorado is my vision during the summer months when there’s not much else going on,” she says. “Most of the other big women’s events tend to be in warmer climates in the Spring or the Fall.”
After a 20-year career in facilities management with an oil company, Frain may have never imagined herself where she is today but is content all the same. “It wasn’t driving any passions,” she says. “Yes, I am making a living. I’m not getting rich but I am doing fine and I’m much, much happier.”