Spoiler Alert: I have social anxiety! Woohoo! And if you’re gay, bi, queer, trans or lez and you’re reading this article, then statistically you likely suffer from anxiety (and depression) too! Isn’t it just a blast?!
I know I might look like a raging extrovert with my batty eyes and slut-chic attire, but I swear to Lana Del Rey (my higher power) I’m shy as f*ck.
I’m the kind of girl who creeps around hallways waiting for them to be void of human energy so I can quickly hop into the elevator alone, in order to stave off elevator awkwardness and the dreaded elevator small talk. I cling to friends at parties. I’ve been known to toss back a few personality drinsk before dates.
And I spill my guts out on the internet as a way of avoiding real connections with real people.
However, I’ve really been trying to push myself lately. I upped my dose of Zoloft from 50mg to 100mg and now that I have some extra serotonin swishing through my lackluster brain, I’m feeling ready to take on some social risks. That’s sort of why I started this Lesbian Social Diary, to begin with. It holds me, accountable darling.
This week I decided to go to “Babetown” which is, according to their Facebook page a “moving pop-up dinner party for queer and trans women and nonbinary people, offering an evening of food, wine, and gayness in a series of private homes.”
I’ve been desperately wanting to go to a Babetown dinner party for what feels like forever. I’ve been avidly following Babetown on Instagram for over a year now, foaming at the mouth over their beautiful pictures of sophisticated food platters served in cozy exposed-brick-style Brooklyn apartments teeming with a fabulous influx of gorgeous, glittery gays.
Even though I’m shy, I do love parties. I fear attending them, but once I’m there, I love them. If the party energy is positive, I lap up the party, like a thirsty wild animal would lap up a lake full of cold clean water. And dinner parties are my favorite kind of parties because I like to wear long, dramatic dresses and engage in conversations of the political nature. Both of which, are extremely difficult to do at a club. The long dress gets stepped on and the music is too loud to properly discuss the nuanced ways in which the world is falling apart.
I also love dinner parties because I love food (contrary to what you may or may not have heard).
As a girl who calls every entity under the sun “babe,” I was also extremely excited about the name “babetown.” Not only was this a babetown party it was called babe-o-ween, and you were encouraged to dress in ~costume~. It was also a fundraiser for Persephone Smith, who is running for city council and that’s pretty amazing because we need more queer babes in city council, am I right?
I vowed to not self-medicate beforehand. This means no benzodiazepines (like my dear friend, Xanax, my sweet sister Clonazepam and my sleepy Auntie Valium) and no sipping on a pretty pink can of sparkling wine in the backseat of the taxi. If I was to overcome my fear of a dinner party full of strangers, I was going to do it without softening the razor sharp edges of social anxiety, sister.
“Are we dressing in costume? What are we going to be? What time does it start? We can’t be late. How far is it? Should we uber or should we take the train? Nevermind, we can’t take the train, the train will give you anxiety. Let’s take a Lyft. When should I order the Lyft? How long until you’re readyyyy?” My girlfriend Meghan fired off a few hours before Babetown, pacing around the apartment as she’s wont to do after a stressful work week of producing stressful events (she can’t get out of production mode and attempts to “executive produce” our relationship).
“Babe! I’m ALMOST ready! Give me a break!” I irrationally screamed from the bathroom, clutching the flat iron like it was some sort of weapon, as I’m wont to do when anxious.
The next thing I knew Meghan and I (neither of us were wearing a costume, though people thought we were, more on that later) were tucked into the backseat of a taxi watching Manhattan fly by our anxious eyes. The cab slowed down to a stop in front of a beautiful building with a gorgeous, dramatic looking entrance on an eerily quiet Brooklyn street.
“We’re here!” Meghan sing-songed as she jumped out of the car with the grace of a non-socially anxious puppy, wagging its little eager tail excited for the party. I took a deep breath. And into the dramatic-looking, beautiful Brooklyn building we went.
We were greeted at the door by a beautiful girl with a sparkly smile that reminded me of Christmas lights. I instantly felt at ease. I could intrinsically tell that this wasn’t going to be a bitchy lesbian party, this was going to be a kind lesbian party. The apartment was gorgeous, massive (god I love Brooklyn apartments!) and full of original artwork (created by the fierce apartment owner, herself).
I quickly met Alex Koones the force of nature babe behind Babetown. She was a beautiful, dark-haired creature dressed in a really chic looking Shark costume from dollskill. She’s also an incredible chef. Like incredible, incredible.
“Thank you for coming!” Alex purred, whisking us into the thick of the party. I smiled at Meghan. She smiled back. The good feels were palpable and we were both feeling fabulous as a result.
Alex showed us the beautiful display of food: a tantalizing brie and grape tart, a crispy skinned duck confit, a lovely looking pasta, and much, much more. The wine was gorgeously flowing. The room was buzzing. The happy vibes were swaying to the beat of the music.
“Hi! What are you for Halloween?” A sweet-faced entity asked Meghan and me.
“Ourselves. We just dress ridiculous.” I replied. I was wearing a bizarre vintage dress and a huge flower was tucked behind one ear, I looked like some sort of landlocked Mermaid. Meghan had a strange army coat on with sequins and Chanel-like tweed arms. We were quite a freak show.
“No, I like it!” The sweet-faced entity squealed. And bam. We were instant friends!
To be honest, Babetown was ~so amazing~ because everyone chatted with literally everyone. The apartment setting made the energy feel far more intimate and safe than a wild bar or a strobe-light-infested nightclub. The music was just loud enough to quell an awkward silence but quiet enough to engage in a heated conversation about the current state of our country.
What warmed my cold heart the most, is that you could sense the crowd was coming from a place of genuinely wanting to connect with one another. The crowd was unafraid to make eye contact. People were happy to introduce themselves and deep dive into a real conversation, rather than stare at the floor and discuss the weather. I actually didn’t have anxiety after the first five minutes, which is big deal for Zara Queen Of The Panic Attack. I didn’t take even half of the Xanax residing in my wallet! I didn’t hide behind Meghan either! In fact, we were separated for most of the evening and made our own sets of friends (which I hear is healthy in long-term relationship, but really who knows?).
In conclusion: Alex does a beautiful job on “Babetown” and I can’t wait to be a “Babetown” babe regular. When I asked Alex about why she started Babetown she replied with,
I started Babetown because I wanted to give queers a place where they could talk to each other. It’s so hard to approach new people in a bar, but at a house party, it’s easy! Really what I aim to do is bring out the best in people – and bring those guards down a little, so people can feel relaxed and comfortable and connect with the people around them. If we are all meeting each other, then we can form a powerful network over this city. But more than anything, I just wanted to offer people something really fun.
When I asked her what she hoped the vibe was like her answer was spot on,
I’ve thrown house parties at my own home every month since I was a kid—I think I try to model the vibe of all of them off the parties I threw in my basement in high school when my parents were out of town—I want that house party nostalgia factor. Down to earth, chill and so fun you are completely engrossed.
Alex is right about how “engrossed” the crowd was. We were totally lost in the moment. In fact, it was the least cellphone queer heavy crowd I’ve ever experienced!
I would definitely recommend Babetown to anyone. If you want to meet queer people in New York City, just go. Go by yourself! Tons of people came alone and left with a sea of new friends. If I can do it without feeling any anxiety, you can do it, babe. After all don’t my babes belong in “babetown?”
Thank you to Grace Chu for the stunning pictures!