Descending into the depths of Honey for Flip Phone, you can feel the air get muggier with each step. When other bartenders would be slammed, the ones at this Northeast basement venue aren't; everyone's been sweating it out on the dance floor for hours with no shortage of hits to distract from refreshing a drink or having a smoke.
At the center of it all is Chad Kampe. By day, he's the executive director at a tutoring center in St. Paul. By night, he's DJ Fancy Restaurant, championing the golden days of pop from back when snappy little flip phones were hi-tech.
In 2012, Kampe created Flip Phone as a monthly dance party for a diverse mix of people: queer and straight, young and... not-so-young, all united in their love for Britney and Beyonce. "A lot of people want to go out with their whole group of friends," he says. "They aren't segregated through gay or lesbian lines anymore."
Originally from the East Coast, Kampe came to Minnesota for college and stayed after meeting his future husband at the Saloon. Kampe's gregarious nature has served him well as an amiable, sincere entertainer. "I try to set a welcoming vibe at all the parties, say hello to everybody, and get away from this passive Minnesota thing," Kampe explains. "I see my role as equal parts DJ and host."
Kampe brings hundreds of people together each month and has over 1,000 people on the Flip Phone newsletter. It's through this list that he reveals the secret location of one of the other events he organizes: Queer Bomb, a dance party where his followers take over venues that aren't usually known for queer events.
Each month, he scouts out a new location for Queer Bomb and educates the venue's staff on how to create a queer-friendly space (including being comfortable with gender identification, different dress codes, and not policing the restrooms).
Just this month, Late Show host Seth Meyers rolled up to Queer Bomb in downtown Minneapolis. Meyers received a rainbow heart sticker on his arrival and exclaimed, "Oh yeah! This is for the Queer Bomb! Awesome!" Kampe didn't know the comedian would be there, but he was thrilled that Meyers was excited to attend and hang out at the event. For Kampe, this spirit of inclusivity is as important as the masterfully crafted Flip Phone playlist.
"There wasn't really a party where lesbians, gays, and trans* people were able to hang out in the same spots," says Kampe. "My whole goal was to bring this melting pot party to the LGBTQ community."
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