Similar to the interlaced fabric that the title encourages, MESH is a new queer party contributing to the creative network of Pittsburgh’s dance community. Deeply inspired by Hot Mass at home and other queer parties abroad, Chad Beisner and Michael Fischer established their event to provide another safe place for music and freedom of expression.
They met during the very beginning of their college years at film school. Fischer says, “We met in freshman orientation at Point Park University and I skipped out to go out to a club and dance and came back the next morning covered in glitter and a total mess, so he walked up to me and the rest is history.”
As Pittsburgh natives they both share a passion for music and an appreciation for places that encourage creativity. Fischer says he has “always had a deep love for music, dancing, and positive creative spaces in general! I grew up listening to all different types of music from disco to punk and my love for dance music derived from that.”
Beisner, who also DJs as ChadKid, started exploring dance music in high school. “I eventually bought a controller for my laptop and started DJing at my friends’ high school parties. At the time I wasn’t really exposed to techno music at all and was playing R&B edits and disco. When I first started to go out when I was in college, Hot Mass was one of the first places Micheal ever dragged me to. That place really sparked my interest in techno and more underground electronic music. Without them I don’t know what I even be doing right now.”
Pittsburgh’s local dance scene has been growing significantly over the past several years. Although ripe with events at Hot Mass, they still have a small scene comparatively to other cities. Too many promoters in these environments can cause a competitive atmosphere and a dilution of quality, but MESH is on more of a symbiotic mission.
“Our city as a whole has been growing like crazy lately. And after being in our amazing scene and community of queers and music heads we have here in Pittsburgh, I’ve been able to see it grow as well over the past couple years. Michael and I have been wanting to start our own party for a while now, and we’ve done a couple of smaller things in the past that went well,” Besiner says. “But now the city is at a point where we have room for more than one queer techno party without it seeming like competition, so we figured now would be the perfect time to step in. It’s been great to be able to book and showcase artists that I love and give them a space to show off their talents to the rest of this amazing city.”
Fischer adds that the creation of MESH is to provide another safe place for queer freedom and visibility. With Hot Mass and some local bars there are certainly spaces already established, he says, “but there can never be enough.”
It’s also important to note that their party differs from Hot Mass in many ways. MESH is not an after hours party, which has a prominent impact on the overall atmosphere. Besiner explains, “I think there’s a lot that’s fundamentally different about our party from Mass for sure. And not that Mass/Honcho is doing anything wrong, quite the opposite, but we just wanted to create a different kind of queer party. Our parties aren’t all nighters and there’s no spaces for sex. Not that those are bad things but they can definitely create a different kind of dance floor vibe at a party. After traveling some last summer and going to parties like In Training in Cleveland and Jarvi’s Acid Daddy parties in Chicago, I was inspired to create a party with a similar vibe to those.”
Liberation through dress, dance and sound that can be found at these parties and within Club Pittsburgh is also welcomed for those who attend MESH. “Hot Mass is like a second home for me, I’m so grateful that I can be part of this amazing community and be a part of amazing events. MESH is very much inspired by the community Hot Mass has created. Hot Mass is a space where anyone can be who they are,” Fischer says. “Trust me I’ve worn some crazy shit there and all I got was love. MESH is another one of those spaces where we want everyone to express their true selves and showcase artistry of all queer people no matter where they came from or where they are going. Like I said before, there can never be too many queer spaces.”
Often adorned in mesh fabric, Beisner and Fischer developed a signature look. They decided to title their party after their favorite breathable dancing material, only to find the poetic parallels revealed as the event transpired. “As we thought about it more the better and better it worked. Mesh is breathable and unisex fabric and we like to think of our party as breathable and unisex too. Comfortable and accessible to everyone from all areas of the queer spectrum,” Beisner says.
Queer parties play such an important role in the music scene on a global level. These parties collectively work to not only shape the scene at large but also have a major impact for local communities by providing a space of acceptance where there is freedom to just be yourself.
“I think queer focus and visibility is important in any scene. Often times trans, non-binary, and just queer people in general are pushed out of scenes which sucks because there are so many amazing artists that can’t showcase their work. One of the main goals of MESH is to showcase these amazing artists.” – MICHAEL FISCHER
Beisner adds, “Queers throw the best parties! I think all the queer people I know in our music scene are doing the most interesting things. And a good queer party will draw in people who might not be too into the music and turn them into someone obsessing over it. I know several people that Honcho has done that for, including myself. I’m sure all these other amazing parties have done the same for many others.”
MESH launched on April 28 at Cattivo, a bar and venue in Lawrenceville. Beisner provided opening duties prior to headliner Shane Christian, who DJs as Kiernan Laveaux. Not only is she an advocate for queer and trans rights, and co-creator of Cleveland’s In Training parties, but she is a growing name in the techno community, especially after her performance during this year’s Club Toilet and Industry Brunch parties in Detroit.
They both share responsibilities for the event. Beisner focuses on booking and wrangling the music and lighting equipment while Fischer handles budgeting, venue and space decoration. When the night of the event arrives their friends collaborate to lend helping hands. “It does overlap and we work together to find great spaces and artists. We are also lucky enough to have amazing friends that jump at the opportunity to help set up, work the door, and much more. It would be impossible without them,” Fischer says.
Barring the space being just a little too big, the evening was a success. Fischer says, “Our event at Cattivo was great! The turnout was lovely. The only downside was that the space was huge! It’s hard to fill a room that big. The staff at Cattivo was very accommodating and great! They welcomed us techno weirdos with open arms. Shane’s set was amazing! She is such a talented DJ and it was such a honor to have her play our first party!” Beisner agrees that their first event went smoothly and free of any problems. Venue hunting is tough in Pittsburgh, especially when looking for an underground spot that is also the perfect energy for a queer friendly environment. Fischer continues, “Finding a space is difficult no matter where you are, I find. Pittsburgh has very strict liquor laws and that can be a bit of a challenge especially with after hours parties. For now, having a non-after hours party is great. People are often intimidated by after hours so while we build a following, this is perfect. We would love to find a space to settle in monthly but for now we are still on the search!”
“We want to build a very strong sense of community and a good vibe of queer friends dressing up and having a good drunken time on the dance floor together to music they love. That’s what we are hoping to bring to Pittsburgh with this party.” – CHAD BEISNER
Beisner agrees on the difficulty found while scouting locations. “It has definitely been the hardest part of organizing this party. All the existing gay/queer spaces are not fit for any kind of party like this, and some of the spaces that are aren’t necessarily the safest places for queer people … We aren’t opposed to staying in one place, but definitely are always on the lookout for new and interesting places. We wanna keep it fresh and expose people to new spaces in the city as well. Also we really wanna do a poolside day party, so if anyone has any leads on that please contact us,” he says with a laugh.
Finding The Glitter Box Theater for their next installation of MESH is a dream come true space, they say. Hailing from Chicago on June 30 will be Jarvi, and opening will be a live set from local duo A&L. Beisner says, “This time the space is gonna be perfect I think. Glitterbox is this multi-use queer art space that just opened recently, it’s the perfect size for us and it will be great to have it in an actual queer owned space instead of a bar. We are bringing in Mike Masai’s amazing sound system that is gonna fill this space perfectly. And on top of everything this space is BYOB so it will be easy and cheap for everyone to get drunk and get dancing.”
Jarvi is a non-binary artist prominently known in Chicago’s underground queer house and techno scene. Among the Naughty Bad Fun Collective crew they can be found putting on parties at Smartbar for Planet Chicago, and also on their own endeavor hosting Acid Daddy’s Haus of Diesel at Berlin Nightclub. Opening the evening will be Pittsburgh’s A&L, a live collaborative performance of raw techno from Alexis Icon and Andre.
“We are so excited for Jarvi! The Glitterbox Theater is more of an art space while Cattivo was a bar. The set-up of Glitterbox is a little more our style and it’s BYOB which is always great,” Fischer adds. “As usual people can expect dancing, techno and lots of mesh.”
Eventually, the last track will play and the lights will come up and after everyone has gone home, Beisner and Fischer will be planning another event. Although anyone who throws parties does so for their own unique drive, there is always a common reason to do so: community.
Fischer says he throws parties because it allows him to “see my friends and community come together and just have an amazing time is enough cause to do it. Seeing people dance and show off their music, fashion, art, makeup, etc. is so amazing to me. I really just love to have a good time!”
Beisner adds, “Ultimately I just wanna throw a party where everyone can have a good time, feel safe, get exposed to some new music, and simultaneously create a space where my favorite DJs can play in my city. I wanted to expand on our already amazing scene here and create a place to dance that is welcoming to everyone. To look out at the crowd during a party and seeing everyone have a good time and dancing is the reason I do it. Putting an event together is more stressful than you imagine before you do it, but the end result is always worth it. We will also be donating proceeds to different organizations as often as we can. We donated all our proceeds from our first party to Planned Parenthood of Western PA. It’s nice to be able to make this party give back to the community.”
Keep a close eye on MESH as they continue to develop and grow in Pittsburgh.