During her recent trip to Los Angeles, our Creative Director Malaika Astorga got the chance to interview and photograph Girl(friends) founder Kirsten Hart in front of the iconic pink wall. Initially meeting at Boogiewoman Festival #3 where they were a featured artist and vendor, Malaika and Kirsten spent the day hanging out and chatting on Melrose. Malaika later attended her first ever Girl(friends) party, which is an event for queer womxn to meet new friends at The Friend in Silverlake. The event was incredibly welcoming, inclusive, and so much fun!
“Girl(friends) was created to give women a space to connect and dance in a low key and friendly environment. We are a free monthly party with female dominated music. Queer LGBTQ women to the front, but ALL women welcome!”
Malaika Astorga for Pink Things: Who are you and what is Girl(Friends)?
Kirsten Hart for Girl(friends): I’m originally from Indianapolis, IN and have been in California for four years, LA for three. I didn’t move here for the entertainment industry, but LA helped me find my niche in event planning and social media marketing.
Girl(friends) is a monthly party aimed at giving women (especially queer women) a space to connect and make friends freely without judgement. We cater to queer ladies, but women and fem-identifying people of all sexualities are welcome.
Pink Things: How did Girl(friends) start?
Girl(friends): Girl(friends) started with my best friend/ex-roommate and I. We created it from two scarcities we noticed:
•The lack of lesbian bars in LA (there are zero).
•Our general lack of girl friends. We were both LA transplants, so it was really hard for us to make genuine connections in such a competitive and sometimes materialistic city.
So, we decided to create a party that filled in these gaps. It's been a lot of fun! My co-founder has now moved to Denver, so be on the look out for a branch there.
PT: Have you always held your events at The Friend? Why did you choose that venue, and what’s it been like working with them?
GF: We were regulars at The Friend and have always loved the space. It fits our theme perfectly from the name to the girly pink and turquoise decor. They were the first bar we asked. We were there one day in November last year for happy hour when we decided to ask the manager about hosting our party for New Year’s Day. It’s funny thinking back because we were so nervous at the time to ask. It was the first big event that either of us would host. They were very enthusiastic to accommodate us, though, it’s been a joy working with them.
We had one party that wasn’t at The Friend and will be doing some collaboration parties with other organizations that will be held at different locations, but our monthly Girl(friends) have always been held at The Friend Bar in Silverlake and we hope to keep it that way
PT: What was it like finding community in Los Angeles when you first moved here? How does it compare to other places you’ve lived?
GF: I've lived longterm in three cities other than LA. It was easier finding friends in those cities in the past because there was already a pre-existing community that I was a part of.
Indianapolis is where I grew up, so I naturally made friends from school, dance and art classes I took. The college town I lived in was the same. I started over there, but not really, because I had peers that were studying the same thing or interested in the similar kinds of music and entertainment. When I moved to San Francisco, it was a temporary job I had for a year at a National Park. There were tons of other recent college grads living and working together in the same environment so at that time it didn't take long to find connections.
It wasn't until I moved to Los Angeles in 2016 that I had trouble making genuine connections. I became a "Tinder Queen,” as I like to call myself because I would meet new people every week. My typical Friday night during that time was going on a date with a stranger. Actually, many of my close friends that I have now who haven't come from Girl(friends) are either directly or indirectly from Tinder or other dating apps.
PT: What has the reception to Girl(friends) been like? What kind of people come to the events?
GF: Compared to other ladies parties I've been to, we foster more of an ambiguous atmosphere that's focused on friendship rather than dating or “collaborating." I'd say we have a pretty wide variety of ladies when it comes to sexuality. I've noticed a lot of the girls that I talk to who go to the parties express that they don't really feel accepted by either the queer or straight communities. So there are many bi womxn and womxn who don't identify with any label for their sexuality.
It's been fun hearing the success stories from girls who have come to the party. I have a few good ones. One girl started throwing art parties inviting girls she'd met at our parties. Other girls have found friends that they could collaborate on creative projects together. Another girl told me she had her first sexual experience with a woman after meeting a girl at one of our parties! I want to foster this kind of openness with the parties. Anything can happen as long as you are open and receptive. People that come to make friends make friends, people who come looking for more find it, either that or they find another girl to go out and find what they're looking for with.
PT: How do you encourage community and inclusivity with Girl(friends)?
GF: I want ALL women and fem-identifying people to feel welcome. I try to make myself available to answer questions to people before a party and have a good time trying say hi to as many people as possible at the party itself. I think when people come to the party they get the vibe and keep it going. It's just super fucking friendly.
PT: What would your advice be to a queer womxn who’s just starting to become a part of the queer community? What are some challenges you faced when you first started going to queer events and interacting with that community?
GF: I would say there are more people out there that are feeling the exact same way as you than you think. Especially in LA, which is such an immensely diverse city. I also think people tend to go out to find sex or dating way too much. I find it easier and more rewarding to go out with no expectations. Go to a party that has a theme that you enjoy or music that you like rather than for "finding someone" because then when you meet people you end up talking more openly about yourself and there's less pressure for what will happen at the end of the night.
PT: What are your go-to queer-safe spaces in LA?
GF: This is another reason why I really love LA because most places you go celebrate the LGBTQ community. West Hollywood is where most people go to enjoy queer night life, but I have more fun downtown. Some places that I've seen have fun queer parties are The Lash and Redline. Cuties Coffee in East Hollywood is another place that is known to have good LGBTQ parties and get-togethers. Oh, and also Gay Asstrology party at The Satellite in Silverlake. The name says it all.
PT: We ask everyone this: What does pink mean to you?
GF: The first things that come to mind are every barbie-loving six-year-old girl's favourite colour, a nickname for the vagina, and softness/femininity.
PT: Finally, is there anything you want to promote? Where can we find Girl(friends) online ?
GF: Not sure when this is coming out, we are doing an art and music event in collaboration with Girl Trip at the end of July (before the July Girl(friends) Party).
Our upcoming events are: Sunday, July 21st, 5-10 pm, at Wolf & Crane Bar in Little Tokyo We're partnering with Girl Trip (@girltrip) for Femme Fest: a movable arts and music festival to advance emerging femme artists under 35.
Friday, July 26th, 7-11 pm, at The Friend Bar in Silverlake
Our regular, monthly Girl(friends) party for girls to connect, dance, and chat with other girls and make new friendships
Malaika Astorga is our Creative Director, and is currently based in Montreal. She is an illustrator, photographer, designer and writer.