If you’ve never been there, Catalyst Ranch is a bit hard to describe, and while our photos capture the playful riot of colors, what they can’t adequately depict is the feeling you get when you walk in the door for the first time: You know that you’re going to have a great time that’s unlike anything else you’ve experienced.
That, in a nutshell, is the main goal of Feminist Prom. To provide a memorable night in a fun and safe space for folks to cut loose, dance to music they may or may not be embarrassed to admit that they love and, of course, to support independent feminist media in Chicago. Obvi.
With all of that in mind, here are the top three reasons we’ve chosen Catalyst Ranch as the home of the Feminist Prom.
Catalyst Ranch is Woman-Owned
Last year, I got to interview Catalyst Ranch founder Eva Niewiadomski about how the space came to be and how she transformed the loss of her corporate job into such a “magical” event space.
Her personal apartment was a place people often admired, saying of her eclectic mix of vintage pieces and items fetched during her travels, “’There’s so many things to catch your eye, and they’re interesting, yet it doesn’t feel like a museum…I can touch it, and every time I come back I see different things.”
“I started to realize that there’s this insight around physical space, and it’s not just me, and not everyone knows how to create it. They don’t understand, necessarily, the merits of it until they’re in it,” she says. “By experiencing it, they will actually accrue, in terms of better ideas or problem solving, in a way they wouldn’t if they used a regular conference room. So that nugget was sitting there.”
The Perfect Blend of “Wow!” & “What?!”
As I mentioned, the space is so whimsical, it’s almost easy to overlook how thoughtfully it’s been curated and laid out to accommodate the range of personal and professional events hosted there.
On the party end of the spectrum, people hold weddings, bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs, birthday parties, awards ceremonies – you name it.
On the business end, companies and organizations host staff retreats, brainstorming sessions, focus groups and product development meetings. That means whiteboards, markers and other business accessories are tastefully incorporated in with the hula hoops, giant party hats and clown-sized sunglasses.
Pro Tip: Definitely visit the bathrooms, even if you don’t have to go.
I’ve been to multiple events at Catalyst Ranch, including our own and other peoples’, and more than once I’ve mistaken the staff for other party goers because they just seem cool. Like the kind of people you want to hang out with at an event. Friendly and unflappable.
I’ll just speak for myself when I say that organization, particularly in the midst of an event, is not always my jam. Lucky for me, the staff has always been graceful under pressure in the face of freakin’-out feminists.
For us, Catalyst Ranch has been the perfect place for the Prom to call home, and we hope you’ll join us there on May 20.