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Zach Renovátes, Kinetic Presents: In the Name of Love For All

This producer of D.C. Pride’s musical events wants you to feel welcome

Producer Zach Renovátes discusses Kinetic Presents Candyland Pride event at Echostage on June 10.

Betty Who, headliner of Kinetic Presents Pride Month event
Betty Who - Photo courtesy of Zak Cassar

As a producer bringing some major events to Capital Pride this year, Zach Renovátes admits that he was keen to get Betty Who on the lineup. After having seen several of her live performances already, Renovátes knew the Australian would make a fine marquee addition to the “Kinetic Presents Candyland” event at Echostage June 10.

Fortunately, she was both available and interested.

“Something that I personally saw was that [Betty Who] is one of the most pro-LGBT singer-songwriters I’ve ever ever seen perform live,” Renovátes said, adding that the D.C. audiences at her concerts come largely from within the gay community. “So she absolutely knows that we as queer people make up a huge percentage of her fan base.”

The June 10 event is the main draw of a weekend of collaborations between Kinetic Presents and the Capital Pride Alliance in celebration of D.C. Pride 2023. Other big names who will play at various venues around the District include DJs Abel and Cindel, Dan Slater, as well as Jerac and Paulo Fragoso. It’ll be a pride-filled musical weekend indeed, with Echostage, Sax, Bunker and Bliss Nightclub hosting the pulsing sounds of revelry. And there’s also the big parade on June 10.

But not everyone might be so welcoming, a fact Renovátes says does indeed play on his mind.

“I think it’s a scary time in our country and the political climate as a whole,” he said. “But that’s what makes Pride absolutely essential: We need to be showing those who stand against us that we are proud, that we are here, we are not going anywhere, and that we are here to celebrate our diversity, celebrate our pride, and do it in a safe way.”

Renovátes grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs before moving to the Washington area to study at George Mason University a dozen years ago. By his own account, he moved downtown the day after he graduated (Renovátes has a bachelor’s and master’s from GMU) as he had already been spending most of his weekends in the music scene there. He said it was both the capital city’s diverse and LBGTQ-friendly populations that made him want to be around downtown’s clubs full-time.

Still, he saw an artistic void waiting to be filled.

A picture of partygoers at a Kinetic Presents Pride event
Partygoers at a Kinetic Presents Pride event - Photo courtesy of Zach Renovátes

“The number and variety of events I felt was lacking for a city of this size,” he said. “And so, I started producing events specifically because I wanted events that I would want to go to in my own city.”

Those early events included “takeovers” of straight raves and concerts. Renovátes discovered a knack for getting the gay community to be out and about, and thus naturally segued into promoting LGBTQ events. This soon led to the formation of Kinetic Presents, which produces some of the DMV’s largest gay dance events—uniting many local promoters under a single banner.

“I’m very fortunate to have incredible business partners who all realize that it made so much more sense to unify our brands and our visions together to produce even larger events for the D.C. region,” he said. “We were able to go from producing events that were 450 to 650 people to producing an event at Echostage for the first time last year for D.C. Pride, which had always been a dream of mine.”

Bunker, a self-described underground gay club, came online this spring. The venue on 14th Street NW will host two Kinetic-produced events, “Unhinged Pride with DJ Cindel” June 10 and “Unhinged Pride with DJs Jerac and Paulo Fragoso” June 11. Renovátes beams with delight discussing the events he is producing in concert with collaborators Dougie Meyer and Jesus Quispe. He also shares that artist Jasin Cadic, who helped design the Bunker space, will be in town for D.C. Pride.

“I’ve always been someone who is interested in bringing people together and fostering a sense of community,” Renovátes said.

Kinetic Presents Event Pride Poster

Yes, because these are lengthy events—followed by afterparties galore—the alcohol will certainly be flowing. Renovátes maintains that a major part of staging such bacchanals is ensuring partygoers feel both safe and cared for should someone maybe have too many vodka-and-tonics.

“We have medical personnel that are working at each of our events to help look out for those patrons and make sure that they can get home safely,” he said.

And given concerns about revanchist elements—and recent anti-LGBTQ news items such as Target removing Pride items from its shelves following threats directed at its employees—Renovátes wants to assure patrons that D.C. Pride musical events are both welcoming and secure.

“The recent violence and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals is absolutely horrifying. As event producers, we have a responsibility to make sure that we’re providing safe spaces that have the kind of security personnel who are looking out for the safety of our partygoers,” he said.

The weekend will feature some surprises too, though Renovátes is hesitant to share what they might entail. Asked if he’ll have a chance to enjoy the proceedings himself, the producer shared that he’ll most likely be running around with a walkie-talkie as the work of staging events on such a scale isn’t completed until the last overturned beer cup is tossed into the trash. While he’s not really able to stop and chat with friends as much as he might wish, Renovátes said that pulling off these musical fests typically counts as its own reward.

A picture of drag queen Mayhem Miller who will perform during the opening party
Drag queen Mayhem Miller will perform during the opening party - Photo courtesy of the artist

“I always get the question, ‘Do you ever get to enjoy your events?’ And the honest answer is absolutely,” he said. “I really do enjoy creating a space and seeing thousands of people living their best lives [and] having an incredible time. That is what fills me with joy.”

Furthermore, a portion of the proceeds goes directly back to Capital Pride Alliance, the organization that stages the parade and the festival taking place along Pennsylvania Avenue on June 11. An outdoor concert there will even be headlined by Debbie Gibson and Shanice.

Renovátes says it’s an honor for Kinetic Presents to partner with Capital Pride Alliance to continue funneling money back into the community, “especially in advance of World Pride, which is coming up in 2025.”

Meanwhile, revelers for D.C. Pride 2023 can enjoy a plethora of events, including the Candyland main event on June 10 headlined by Betty Who.

“I think this is going to be the best D.C. Pride yet,” Renovátes said.

For tickets to Kinetic Presents live DC Pride events, go to Kineticpresents.com. And for information on the Pride Festival and concert, held on Pennsylvania Avenue June 11, go to CapitalPride.org/event/festival.

Eric Althoff

A native of New Jersey, Eric Althoff has published articles in “The Washington Post,” “Los Angeles Times,” “Napa Valley Register,” “Black Belt,” DCist, ScreenComment.com and Luxe Getaways. He produced the Emmy-winning documentary, “The Town That Disappeared Overnight,” and has covered the Oscars live at the Dolby Theater. He lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with his wife, Victoria.

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