NOIZE MAGAZINE PROMOTER SPOTLIGHT: CHRIS HARRIS
Written by Jason Salzenstein
If you go out to any big clubs in Boston or you’re a regular at the major Circuit events in the U.S. or Canada, chances are you’ve been to one of Chris Harris’ events.
Known as New England’s best party promoter—and certainly the region’s most important—Harris is no newbie to the nightlife scene. And he’s not just another pretty-faced party boy. An adept businessman, Chris is credited with single-handedly reviving the once-languishing nightlife scene in Boston; although now, he has extended his reach much farther afield.
With hundreds of parties and Pride celebrations under his belt, Chris knows what he’s doing and he does it very, very well. Don’t think, however, that this means that he’s sitting back and sipping mojitos while letting other people do the dirty work for him! He didn’t get to be where he is today on his good looks and charismatic smile alone (although I’m sure they didn’t hurt).
Chris has a long history in the industry. He’s worked in club operations at various levels for almost 20 years. But it wasn’t until he moved back to Providence from Miami that he decided to start throwing parties himself. Luckily for him, the administration of the Rhode Island capital was supportive of his efforts. His events were successful for him, the city, and the charities for which his events raised funds.
When the owners of the Strand, his mainstay club in Providence, decided to go in a different direction after a five-year run, he decided it was time to move on and up to the region’s biggest city.
Knowing about Chris’ successful fundraising and fabulous parties in Providence, Boston Pride asked him to bring his Military Ball to the old Avalon as the main Pride event for 2007. The party ended up doing so well that although the club was scheduled to close in six months, the owners offered him Saturday nights for the remainder of the lease. Chris jumped on the opportunity. Together with the Boston promoter Raffael Sanchez, he began his ascent to the top of Boston’s gay nightlife scene.
Just as the six-month run at Avalon was ending, Chris got a call from the owners of the Roxy. It seems they had noticed the 1,200-plus turnout of gay boys at Chris’ parties at the Avalon, and these packed events looked better than the smaller straight crowds they’d been dealing with on Saturday nights.
EPIC Saturdays, Glamlife Thursdays, Hot Mess Sundays
Chris Harris, along with Gay Mafia, is now running three very different weekly parties in Boston. Each one has a different vibe—literally, in terms of music; and figuratively, as for the crowd: Glamlife Thursdays at The Estate (Top 40 and hip hop); EPIC Saturdays (big room dance party); and Hot Mess Sundays at Underbar, where Chris says “you’ll hear everything and anything… except Boy George.”
Boy George and Chris Harris have a somewhat tumultuous history, largely because the made-up DJ (pun intended) still reportedly owes Chris $10,000. Big Boy G was a no-show for a party he was contracted to do last year before he got busted on drug charges. Although Chris has tried to collect from the DJ, his management, and lawyers, and left very clear and detailed contact information (literally) at his house in London, he’s yet to see a penny. He even confronted him with picket signs while the karma chameleon was picking up trash in Manhattan as the community service part of his sentence.
No ex-Culture Club member could keep this cultural club phenomenon down, however. Chris has become known in the industry as a global promoter. Unlike some promoters who never hit the dance floor in their off hours, he tries to get to as many other parties around the world as he can, which contributes to his ability to mix it up when it comes to hiring talent. Chris’ events feature a balance of internationally known DJs with local and regional up-and-comers and established scenesters.
Aside from the Military Ball, Chris has been responsible for organizing and throwing world-class parties. At one time or another, he has been behind events around a White Party, Black Party, Nation V and Winter Party, as well as Erect, Voyage, Eruption, Volcano, Chinese New Year, Ego, Northern Decadence and Ego. Although these events have made him well known among the Circuit crowd worldwide, he’s still very much in touch with the cities where he throws parties, and always looks out for the locals.
Right now Chris is back to living in Providence, but since he’s in Boston nearly every weekend (the two cities are barely more than an hour apart), he keeps a flat there too. As a promoter at the top of his game, he’s looking to expand into real estate, gay travel, and some more surprises that he’s keeping under wraps.
Helping out friends & worthy causes
Aside from being a master promoter, Chris is also known for helping out his friends, standing firm behind true talent, and even pushing those in whom he sees great potential to go even further. A perfect example of this is DJ Dena.
A novice DJ when they met, Chris encouraged Dena to hone her skills at spinning. He made sure she had the opportunity to play for ever-larger crowds. In just a few years, DJ Dena has come into her own as her reputation continues to rises on the Circuit.
When Dena was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, Chris decided to do something about it. Together with others in the industry, he put together “Divas For Dena: The Breast Party Ever!” to benefit the “Save the Ta-Tas Foundation” and raise awareness of breast cancer.
Right now, he’s more than busy managing the three weekly events in Boston and traveling the world. He likes to keep up with the industry and explore new concepts to keep his parties fresh. With all of those miles, it’s helpful that his Hawaiian boyfriend of eight years, Dominic, is a flight attendant.
In the next few months, he’s really looking forward to “Caligula,” a Roman-themed party he and Raffael Sanchez are throwing for New Year’s, with Manny Lehman at the helm musically. He’s promising “the best party New England has ever seen.”
Chris is also eager to turn his attention back to Providence and throw more parties there. Nor is he stopping at the party scene. Providence is already famous as the largest city in the country with an openly gay mayor. If, as expected, he runs for governor, check out http://www.ChrisHarrisForMayor.com to see what this ultimate multitasker has in store for 2010.
- See more at: http://www.chrisharrispresents.com/about-me/#sthash.rzcyULIs.dpuf