Punch Bowl Social ladles up the Pride all year ‘round – and particularly during Milwaukee PrideFest. So enjoy a full array of colorful and celebratory stories, videos and hot takes all week long!
This year, Milwaukee PrideFest, like many around the country, will celebrate 50 years since the Stonewall riots in New York City, the movement that began the LGBTQI revolution. We appreciate the sacrifices, determination and groundwork those before us put in so we can have the liberties we have today. There is still so much work to be done; however, this month, we celebrate how far we’ve come.
Now that we’ve given our salutations, here are the things you can do to make the most of your weekend – including pre-Pride celebrations, brunch, shows to see and the places to be before and after the fest.
Get ready to unleash your fabulousness on these Milwaukee streets.
Wednesday, June 5
The pre-Pride celebrations begin here, so here are some places you might want to end up if you're just getting in town or you're just looking for your jush to be seen, queen.
Before you start your evening, stop at the new Saint Kate Arts Hotel for inventive cocktails. This new space boasts vibrant pieces from artists near and far.
During the eve? Get a group of friends together and grab some tickets to the 6:40 p.m. Milwaukee Brewers game for Pride Night!
After the ball game, take yourself to This Is It for College Night: Pride Edition! The drag show starts at 8 p.m., featuring nine fierce performers with DJ K-Rad playing after. There's a $10 cover for those ages 18-20, while attendees 21 and over get in free.
Thursday, June 6
Milwaukee Pride officially kicks off today – and we are starting with a bang and an "and I oop!" in the famous Dance Pavilion.
Before you head to the festival grounds, stop by our gayborhood – aka Walker's Point – for some good eats, treats and beats at Snack Boys. There’s always a friendly diverse crowd, and the staff is A-1! Make sure you take a picture with your snack in front of their Milwaukee-famous "Snack Boys" sign.
When you make your way to the festival grounds, headliners like DJ Shawna, Greyson Chance, Tanner Dixon, the MKE Drag Revue and yours truly will be taking the stage.
Here is the full lineup of performers kicking off Milwaukee PrideFest on Thursday:
- Haunt3d Hous3
- Tanner Dixon
- MKE Drag Revue
- Greyson Chance
- DJ Shawna with special guest Lex Allen (me!)
After you dance your heart out, get ready to sashay some more with live performances from the talented drag goddess Lenda Jo and friends at their Pride Kickoff After Party, hosted by The Cooperage. DJ DripSweat will bring down the house with sickening sounds – and after, you can catch my favorite rebels Gender Confetti rocking the stage at 11 p.m. Plus, one dollar of every Tito's cocktail sold will be donated to Courage MKE.
Friday, June 7
It’s Friday, Friday, gonna get down on Friday! The events this evening are sickening – but these are my must-do’s on this glorious day.
Before the main event, get yourself and your friends to The Outsider found in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward. It has a great rooftop patio, a picture-worthy backdrop of our skyline and cocktails that will have you living your best life!
Then boot, scoot and boogie yourself on down to the fest after those cocktails and light apps for some lively acts that will have you singing along, starstruck and twerking all at the same time.
The Miller Lite main stage headliner is Milwaukee native Trixie Mattel's Dragapalooza variety show featuring queens like Rhea Litre – who I had the pleasure of meeting in Miami – Coco Montrese, BeBe Zahara Benet and more, singing with a world-class live band led by the Grammy-nominated Chris Cox. Peek your tail feathers in and out of the Dance Pavilion all night; you will not be disappointed with the stage hosted by T REX and Jaida Essence Hall.
If you get tired of serving on the dance floor, make your way to the Wom!nz Spot to catch rocking lead singer Gabriella Papale from the band Faux Fiction. There's even something for the theater babes with "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" being performed live at the Rainbow Stage.
Continue your night after the fest, reapply your makeup, put on something a little revealing and head to Dida's Delicious Divas Friday at D.I.X.!
Saturday, June 8
You need a place to nurse that hangover? It’ll be a toss-up, but I have a few options for you to visit before you head down to the PrideFest grounds. I wish I could be here for this day – BUT I'm opening up for Lizzo at Indy Pride!
Before? This was a hard one to pick, so I'll give you my top three brunch spots you should hit up before you and your squad make your way to the celebration. Make a reservation at Brunch Downtown, Black Sheep in Milwaukee's Walker's Point area or Uncle Wolfie's Breakfast Tavern.
Now that you have a base for the day, you can swerve on down to the grounds and indulge in a night you will forever remember. Stop by the Miller Level Up VIP Space from 5 to 9 p.m. for The QTPOC Pride Social, a place for all queer and trans people of color to intentionally hold space and create community. The Miller Lite Stage will be the place to be as "Heart To Break" singer and queer icon Kim Petras will headline with LELAND stepping on the stage right before her.
My Backline cohort Abby Jeanne will also grace the stage with her lively band and one of my favorite new Milwaukee acts Maceo, showcasing their R&B chops. Move over to the Wom!nz Spot Lounge for my soul sister and Milwaukee icon, Roxie Beane! She never disappoints. And like always, be sure to pop your head in the Dance Pavilion for the fun hosted by T REX and and Rupaul Drag Race's Jinkx Monsoon.
What is there to do afterward? Make your way to Non-Pop Pride event at the newly remodeled This Is It, featuring DJs Tista and Moses plus special guest Fortune for a blend of diverse music and visual arts. If you're looking for another spot to hop to, move over to Catcus Club for Agua De Rosas for all the reaggaeton, Dembow and perreo love love you’ll need.
Sunday, June 9
Sunday Funday is for sharing stories of the night before – and getting ready to close out your weekend at MKE PrideFest!
Beforehand, make your way to the Iron Horse Hotel's pre-Pride Parade brunch, hosted by DJ Bestfriends and me, starting at 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.! Skip out a little early to secure your spot at the MKE Pride Parade. (The 2019 FAT D.I.X. Pride Block Party may be where you’d want to post up.)
This is the last night of PrideFest so make your way to the grounds to visit the
Stonewall Stage for the HIV/AIDS in Wisconsin: Oral Histories & Future Victories presentation. Then move over to the Dance Pavilion for the final night of dancing queens! Milwaukee's own Dita Von and T REX will host the stage with a troop of Chicago queens showing us how they do in the Windy City. If you have the energy, Porn and Chicken will shut it down with the closing dance party.
When the fest closes the grounds after celebrating 50 years of Stonewall, the ONLY place to be is This Is It, where The Trixie Mattel Show will feature local Milwaukee openers starting at 11 p.m.!
That's all just the tip of the iceberg of all the great performances and after parties Milwaukee PrideFest has to offer this year. To get the full lineup, visit PrideFest's website.
Remember to be safe, be authentic and – as always – keep it moving, yah beauts!