Known for some of the city’s hottest happenings, Chicago event guru Kritzen Kaza’s philosophy is simple: The people make the party.
With her intersectional, intentional approach to programming, Kristen Kaza of event production company No Small Plans is reshaping the party scene in Chicago. Along with monthly residencies at the Ace Hotel with vinyl-spinning women DJs at Old Gold and iconic LGBTQ dance night Slo ’Mo at the Whistler, she also works with nonprofits and advocacy organizations and teams up with brands and cultural institutions like Nike, the MCA and EXPO Chicago on larger-scale productions. “I’ve always seen parties as a platform for supporting and engaging local communities, from artists to folks behind the scenes and the audiences that enjoy them,” she explains. “I do this kind of work because I believe in the power of in-person connection. It’s irreplaceable.”
Kaza has thrown hundreds of hot-ticket bashes over the last decades, but some of her favorites are those she hosts at home, like her festive bash Holidazzle. “I love these parties,” says the 33-year-old Logan Square resident. “There’s a constellation of people bringing their energies into my home. It’s a great place to come together, support a cause by doing a local supplies drive and have fun with our ‘queer family,’ as we say. We get super dressed up, fill the bathtub with Champagne, dance and take Polaroids to make into garlands for the tree.”
Super-luxe looks and all-out fabulous flair whatever the occasion are the Vermont native’s signature—and an essential in her playbook. “I love creating a reason to get dressed up, because it helps people get into the party mindset.” Her look of choice? ’70s glam: “I go all out for vintage pieces: sequins, rhinestones, gold, jumpsuits, maxi dresses, kaftans and statement earrings,” Kaza says. “Big lashes and bright lipstick are a must. My mom wears lipstick just mowing the lawn or going for a bike ride. I’m totally the same way.” Old Gold, Dec. 2, Ace Hotel; Slo ’Mo, Dec. 20, The Whistler
Photography by: Photos by Sam Grant, shot on location at Bixi Beer