Love is Love

Valentine’s Day is upon us, that beloved commercial holiday that so many of us love to hate. For some folks, it means reservations at a swanky eatery. For others, it’s drowning sorrows or celebratory shots with friends. For many, it’s a Lush bath bomb, a glass of wine, a night of buzzed exfoliation and binge-watching — single, self-care queendom. I’ve never been terribly huge on the ritual whether I’ve had a partner or not, as I’d prefer flowers on a random day than on one that involves society pushing the gesture upon us. However, I am here for the evolution of Valentine’s Day celebrations that has occurred as of late — soirées highlighting friendships (Galentine’s Day, anyone?), inclusivity, those who shatter the heteronormative messaging of it all and the events that promote singles and self-love. Modern Valentine’s Day should be a celebration of love in every form, so here are a few local blowouts where you can revel in just that. Let’s imbibe in the name of love.

In 2015, Tinder told Vanity Fair that Valentine’s Day was its biggest day on record, with usage, messaging and matches jumping by 7.6 percent in just a matter of hours. Singles are swiping their fingers into oblivion, and local spacey haunt Galaxie has taken the theme to another level with the return of its Valentine’s Day dance party, “Swipe Right: Singled Out,” on Thursday. Geared toward singles, but dates are welcome, Swipe Right will feature aptly-named drink specials, including the “First Base” (Aperol, sparkling, OJ) and the “Home Run” (shot of Espolòn Tequila). And if you can’t decide from the plethora of innuendos, simply order the “Blind Date,” and you’ll get a surprise elixir. I don’t know about you folks, but losing myself in a dance party is the perfect way to celebrate love.

On Friday, Feb. 15, keep the adoration in the air by assembling your girl army and bathing in all that is woman. Galentine’s Day comes in the form of a feminist throwdown at Block Party Handmade Boutique benefiting Girls Rock Louisville for the past three years, and this year’s prom theme aims to be bigger and better than ever. The “ladies celebrating ladies” event honors friendships between women (first introduced by Amy Poehler’s character, Leslie Knope, on “Parks and Recreation”). The West Sixth brews are always a-flowing, and, speaking of flows, the price of admission is a box of tampons or pads or a menstrual cup. Block Party owner Mary Levinsky distributes the donation between the Louisville Rescue Mission, Home of the Innocents and The Center for Women and Families. “It’s my opportunity to create a feminist utopia and do what I can to support the women in my community,” said Levinsky. “We’re going to smash the patriarchy piñatas!”

After Galentine’s prom, make your way to Zanzabar for what’s sure to be an epic Valentine’s “blackout.” Love is love in all forms at Love Hangover by Phresh & the City, where attendees are encouraged to wear all black and join local entertainers to twerk the night away. “I wanted to create a place of love and unity! Celebrating love and life! Those things can be celebrated together or alone,” said Phresh & the City founder, Prince Crittenden. Phresh & the City is an event curation initiative that aims to create safe, inclusive and unique events in Louisville, “lifting each other up, and in turn lifting Louisville up to heights it’s never seen before.”

Prince believes that everyone can be one another’s valentines, hence the desire to have everyone matching in black. “I really have to shout out Z Bar!” said Prince, explaining that it has willingly given a portion of the door proceeds from the event to Mental Care Mondays, a P&TC recurring gathering that aims to create a safe space and conversation about mental health that is open, authentic and accessible.

As a Valentine’s Day baby, Prince has often felt alone on Prince’s birthday, and creating inclusive spaces and events is a way to bridge that gap for anyone experiencing the same solitude on a day meant to celebrate love. That’s the evolution of this once “Hallmark holiday” that I’m here for: progressive ideas eclipsing what it once was, so that now we can start to see Valentine’s Day as a moment to step back and tell everyone in our lives — including ourselves — how much we love them. I’ll start now. I love you. Cheers!