For as long as there have been humans, people have sought to form community. For those who are part of a subculture, finding your tribe can feel a bit daunting and even more important. We in the LGBTQ community aren’t any different in that respect. For a vast majority of us, community and finding our tribes are important to our safety and social wellbeing. From the clandestine night clubs (with warning red lights) of the past to the fraternal organizations of present – we have always found a way to connect with each other. And we’re often drawn to each other by more than our LGBTQ status. For LGBTQ Carolinians with a thirst for the Arts, Out on the Town just may fill that void.
Out on the Town is a Blumenthal-sponsored social club for arts lovers that identify as or are allies to the LGBTQ+ community. Members enjoy special discounts and invitations to mixers before or after select performances. There are no dues, no officers, and no membership requirements. Simply stated, “The goal of this group, and our events, is to provide a safe space where you are free to be who you are,” says Danny Knaub, the Blumenthal’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications.
Knaub is relatively new (since May 2021) in his role as VP of Marketing and Communications but has been with the Blumenthal since 2008. Beginning then and continuing through 2013. Knaub was in charge of the Out on the Town program.
In a interview with Qnotes he offered some insight on how the inclusive group creates safe space for LGBTQ theater lovers and an opportunity to make new friends while having fun enjoying theater.
“The LGBTQ+ community is no stranger to friends being your family,” Knaub offers. “As an often-marginalized group in society, building a wide net of support is very important. Watching members build lifelong friendships has been a gift and I’m excited to see that tradition continue.
“On a lighter side, with so much negativity in the world, it’s nice to kick up your feet, enjoy a cocktail, have some laughs, eat delicious food and go see the best of Broadway with fellow fans and friends.”
Eager to share information on the specifics of Out on the Town events, Knaub explains, “We host pre- and post-show mixers centered around six to seven shows a year. Whether you attend one event or all events, we’re excited to have you. We’ve been around for over 15 years and continue to see new faces every single event.”
In January the group served up “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” a musical theater production highlighting the life and times of Motown recording group The Temptations. The diverse crowd of Out on the Town members clearly enjoyed the night of musical theater, drinks and light bites at a local haunt.
In November of last year, the Blumenthal-sponsored group presented “Rent: the 25th Anniversary Tour.” In 2019 “Hello Dolly” and “Miss Saigon” were added showstoppers.
Just like the rest of the world, however, Out on the Town was impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic, which shut down the world of theater for over a year. According to Knaub, “Between March 2020 and September 2021, no Broadway was presented in our venues. That finally changed when WICKED returned for a record-breaking engagement, September through October, 2021. Then in November, Out on the Town hosted its first event in over 18 months with a pre-show party for ‘Rent.’ It was like a giant family reunion.”
Knaub, as well as many of the group’s members, are more than delighted to see the theater presentations return, along with the post-show parties that allow cast and crew members from the shows to join theater goers in post-show festivities. “This group loves mingling and meeting the stars of the show, Sadly, COVID protocols have put a temporary hold on cast parties. But I look forward to the day when we can return to post-show events.”
As we seem to be rounding a curve in the COVID Pandemic, Knaub looks forward to continuing to grow the group, welcome new faces and discover all the new hot spots popping up all around Uptown. “The 2022-2023 Broadway season is being planned as we speak,” Knaub explains, “so we’re already starting to plan future Out on the Town events. We’re continuing the tradition of bringing the best of Broadway to Charlotte and I know our members will be thrilled with what’s to come. Tours are more important than ever because so many haven’t been able to make a trip to NYC these last two years.”
The question of how Charlotte’s LGBTQ community can access more safe space programming like that offered by the Blumenthal’s Out on the Town group is at the forefront of many who are looking to return to social activity. For an answer, we went back to Knaub for some advice.
“My first step is always reaching out to other LGBTQ+ organizations to find ways to work with each other,” he says. “In just the last few months, Blumenthal has worked and partnered with RAIN, Time Out Youth and Qnotes, to name a few.
“There are so many fantastic LGBTQ+ organizations in Charlotte … we should be leaning on each other to help us all grow, be more inclusive and be better allies to the LGBTQ+ community.”