February 11, 2013
This week in Toronto and New York, a string of quirky events are happening under the radar: a flavor tripping party hosted by a chef, a loft party with an igloo theme and “sexy arctic wear” dress code, an aerial burlesque show, and more.
These are all events you’ll find on Speakeasy, a site for discovering semi-private parties that launches on Valentine’s Day. These parties take place in private residences, usually cost less than going to the bar (or nothing at all), and hopefully make it easier to meet people.
“When you ask people, ‘Do you really like going to bars and nightclubs?’ the answer is, yeah, they like it enough, but it’s not the thing that they’d really like to be doing,” explains CEO Kevin Bracken. “People are really hungry for events that are not in bars and nightclubs … If you ask people, ‘What is the best party that you’ve even been to in your life?’ oftentimes they’ll say it was a house party or a loft party.”
Bracken should know: he has spent time organizing popular events for Newmindspace, from bubble blowing parties to capture the flag to the famous International Pillow Fight Day (now in 150 cities worldwide).
On Speakeasy, any private party organizer can post an event. If you’re a guest looking for a fun time, you can browse the site and request to attend. The host screens guests by reading testimonials from your friends, seeing if you have connections in common, and looking at your Facebook profile. Their exact address isn’t revealed until they accept you, similar to Airbnb. And if the party costs money, Speakeasy can handle the transaction.
Speakeasy started with an actual speakeasy: in October, Bracken and company built a speakeasy in the back of a box truck in Las Vegas – complete with red curtains, a dark wood bar, and Prohibition-era cocktails. Drinks were enjoyed, but the party eventually got shut down by the Department of Health. In other words, everything started off on the right foot.
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