When friends Amie Klujian and Christina Wiesmore-Roberts met up for drinks at a Chicago bar in 2003 they had the same thought, ‘Wow, all the boys around here have all the parties.’ That’s when the started to formulate what would become Back Lot Bash, an annual lesbian-centered music and entertainment festival based in Chicago that now attracts thousands from the Midwest and the rest of the nation.
“There was really nothing for women (in terms of) unique or safe spaces that had events,” said Wiesmore-Roberts. “We though what if we just had a one-off party, and we love music so much and our friends are in a band, so we gathered this idea and the next thing you know, what started as a one-day event expanded over two weekends with over 6,000 people throughout it.”
The event, now celebrating its 15th consecutive year, kicks off on Saturday, June 23, with headliners Kittens, Sarah Shahi and more. Wiesmore-Roberts said that since its start, not only has Back Lot Bash grown in the crowds and headlining acts it attracts, but it has expanded its demographic reach, too.
“It’s kind of funny, back when we started I was that person who just wanted to party and hang out, but now my favorite event is Pride Kids & Family Fest. It’s so cute and this is our sixth year doing it, and now myself and all of my friends look so much more forward to it,” she laughed.
Another one of Wiesmore-Roberts’ favorite new additions to Back Lot Bash’s lineup is its new tasting event.
“One of the things we started last year was Whiskey, Wine & Women, and this is a demographic of women that reached out to us that are a little bit older that would go to the Sunday festival, which are around 21 to 25,” Wiesmore-Roberts said. “The Whiskey, Wine & Women demographics are around 30 and higher. We had a feeling that people wanted to mix and mingle, and people love tastings and it just took off. The event is almost sold out right now for this year, but moving forward we’re looking at changing the event and we hope to do a huge tasting this year and move it into a bigger space.”
However, eager Detroit-attendees shouldn’t despair if a trip to Chicago seems out of the way, Wiesmore-Roberts just took up residence in Royal Oak, and is already thinking of ways to bring a little taste of Back Lot bash to the area.
“It’s interesting, we’re already talking about it and I’m already honored and excited that when I was out I was asked by several people about it,” she said. “I believe we have the resources and the connections to definitely make it happen and I love doing it. So, yes, we’re definitely looking into it.”
Wiesmore-Roberts said that the longer she stays in the area she’s learning more about the local LGBTQ community, too.
“I’m falling in love with it, and I’m right by Ferndale, too,” she said. “So, I’m learning (laughs).”
More information about Back Lot Bash 2018 can be found online at backlotbashchicago.com.