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GUMBO boys Ben Harvey & Casey Fitzpatrick

GUMBO boys Ben Harvey & Casey Fitzpatrick

Profession Party promoters, radio show host (Ben)
Best known for GUMBO - Gay DUMBO Party, GEKKO at Gild Hall, The Six Pack
Website http://www.gumbonyc.com/

It’s been two years since Ben and Casey put on their first GUMBO (Gay DUMBO Party) night, the first homo night in that neighbourhood, and they haven’t looked back since, following up with the equally popular GEKKO in the Financial District and now extending the GUMBO brand with events across town. We talk with the two about the upcoming anniversary and their plans for the future.

Word has it you got into party promoting because you were fed up with what was out there.

We like parties that are fresh and new, especially in places where LGBT parties haven’t been attempted before. DUMBO, Brooklyn is a beautiful waterfront neighborhood directly under the Manhattan Bridge, just one stop on the subway from Manhattan. The perfect location for a gay night, right? And yet, there had never been a reoccurring gay party in DUMBO before GUMBO came about.

As soon as you walk through the doors of Galapagos Art Space, you know you’re somewhere awesome.There are two levels, a giant stage (the dance floor) and a 1,600 ft. moat of water with floating seating pods for guests to hang out. Combine that with the amazing views of lower Manhattan, and it’s hard to beat.

Are there really no parties worth heading out of your neighbourhood for?

There are always plenty of fun LGBT parties in New York on a given night. Just flip through a copy of NEXT and pick your poison. That’s what we love about this city! We’re fans of PaperMag parties and GLAAD events, and we love the Thompson Hotel bars – which are very LGBT friendly.

Both of your parties – GUMBO in DUMBO and GEKKO in the Financial District – are in, well, peripheral areas. Do they attract the same kind of crowd or are they different?

True, you can practically see Gild Hall Hotel (home to GEKKO FiDi) from the doors of Galapagos just across the East River. They attract similar crowds, as there are many fans of both parties. GUMBO DUMBO is more of a destination party, with performances, dancing, letting loose andgetting all TGIF.

GEKKO, which falls on the last Wednesday of the month, brings out a lot of local gays who live and work in the Financial District. It’s nice for meeting up with friends, colleagues, or dare we say a first date. The Library Bar at Gild Hall is very chill, like an old-school Gentleman’s Club – think tufted leather couches, shelves of vintage books, and mixed cocktails – but we promise that doesn’t stop people from getting their groove on.

GUMBO DUMBO used to be on Thursdays, but you moved it to Friday. Are Brooklyn boys too uptight to party on a school night?

Yup, in the very beginning, the party was on Thursday nights, and started earlier. The move was simply because people requested a dance party, not on a school night. So GUMBO DUMBO took over Galapagos on the first Fridays of every month.

We still loved the vibe that a weekday party created, which is why we eventually started GEKKO on last Wednesdays. We don’t think there is a homo-boy out there who doesn’t want to have a night of fun after the daily grind. Whether you want to dance or de-stress, between the two parties I think we’ve got everyone covered.

So many nights come and go but GUMBO DUMBO has now been going strong for almost two years. Any explanation for its success?

It’s what we’ve always told ourselves – our guests make the party. GUMBOers are a wonderfully eclectic bunch. They bring the style, energy, and razzle dazzle to every GUMBO DUMBO.

Every party is a different experience. One night there will be Freshpair.com undies at the door and cirque aerialists hanging from the rafters, the next month a performance by the Broadway cast of American Idiot or Sky Ferreira. Plus, free 42Below vodka at every party ain’t bad.

We’re not afraid to take risks and experiment with new ideas. If it doesn’t work, we switch it up and present something new the next month. The music also rotates at GUMBO DUMBO, and a lot of talented DJs have spun the party.

What’s in store for the big celebration on August 19?

August 19 will mark our two-year and we’re bringing the best of GUMBO DUMBO back to celebrate, along with some new surprises. We’re talkin’ live performances, two 42Below vodka open bars, dirtysugarphotography live photos, door giveaways – and we’ve got a few more tricks in the GUMBO pot.

We’d also like to officially announce that DJ Justin Dawson will be losing his GUMBO DUMBO virginity that night.

GUMBO DUMBO sometimes offers free haircuts. Where did that idea come from?

We wanted to think of a fun way for guests to interact with the party, but at the same time offer a unique visual for others. We set up our resident stylist in a pod, and there is acolor-changing spotlight on her. It’s definitely eye-catching. No one has lost an ear yet, we think…

Most of our features, like the wacky “sociaLIGHT” photo booth provide joy for the participant, andalso onlookers. They bring an incredible energy to the party.

Is there any similar signature element at GEKKO?

There’s no haircutting going on, but we’re on the look out for a henna artist mindreader, should you know of one!

What’s up next for the GUMBO boys?

Last month we had our first ever GUMBO takeover of Manhattan at Canal Room with a concert by Shontelle and rising pop star 21st Century Girl. It was an absolute blast. Shontelle premiered the first single off her new album and had the crowd singing along to “Impossible.” It was pretty much a big dance party, with a couple open bars from our friends at 42Below and the super generous sponsors, Get Services concierges and Thompson Hotels.

It was so much fun that we plan on returning to Canal Room on September 16 with the launch of GUMBO POP, a combined musical showcase and dance party. We’re eager to announce some of the highlights for the night, but you’re just gonna have to wait a bit longer.

Most memorable moment at any of your parties so far?

Ben: We’ve had some well-known celebrities show up as guests. One of them many people didn’t know was gay, but by the end of the night he made it pretty clear up on the dance floor!

Casey: Getting into a fight with Ben, and pushing him in the Galapagos lake. I kid. It’s been a blast hosting birthdays at GUMBO DUMBO, we give them the prez treatment – private pod, balloons, ice cream cake and all.

Where is the first place a tourist should go to experience gay New York?


Casey: Is this a trick question?

As a gay man, what is the best part about living in New York?

Ben: Seeing people strut their stuff down the Eighth Avenue “runway” in Chelsea… the best people watching in the city.

Casey: We have an ice cream truck dedicated to us!

Any travel plans this year?

Ben: I’m going to Vegas at the end of the month. After all this gay stuff I need to go detox with bachelorette girls and grandmas at the slot machine. I’d love to get to Brazil at some point!

Casey: I’m renting a cabin on 150 middle-of-nowhere acres in Virginia. Pure relaxation. I’d love to visit India one day.

Three things always in your carry-on when you travel:

* Stack of unread New York magazines
* Flight 001 toiletry kit
* Bonobos v-neck sweater

* My iPhone (in ‘Airplane Mode’ of course)
* Burt’s Bees facial cleansing towelettes
* ‘Old School PB&J’ PROBAR