If you want to start your Labor Day weekend off with a bang, look no further than Hennypalooza, which comes to the Trocadero on Friday, Sept. 2. Initially launched in Harlem in 2012 as a house party, this event now tours nationally — mixing music, community, good vibes and, of course, all you can drink Hennessy. We chatted with founder Kameron McCullough about the beginnings of Hennypalooza, and what to expect on Friday.
First I’ve got to ask: Why Hennessy?
It was what my friends and I liked at the time we started it. We didn’t think it would turn into this. It’s also been ingrained in urban culture forever.
How did the party get started?
It started in 2012 around Christmastime and I wanted to have a holiday game night at my apartment with a few friends. We themed it around Hennessy — so either bring a bottle of Hennessy or fried chicken to my apartment. In the initial invite text, I hashtagged #hennypalooza, sent it to 10 people and everyone jokingly started tweeting the hashtag. This party was happening in my two bedroom apartment.
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We sent the text message on a Tuesday and on Thursday night, Lowkey, who now hosts the event, said “You should look at the number of tweets!” I saw a bunch of people talking about the party, asking where it is, how much is it to get in. I went to my landlord and asked to rent the community room for the event, which costed $25. [Laughs] I was like, “You can bring a few people now. We have the space for 100.” My one friend DJ’d. The first one is probably the most memorable for me because of the way it all came together.
How did you grow it from there?
In February of 2013, we moved to an art gallery on the Lower East Side. Then the third one in June, we decided to legitimize it. We started going to licensed venues and built it out bit by bit. A ton of trial and error, a ton of growing pains — but we sit here now and we’re a touring party and it all started from a BYOB game night. The story never gets old for me. This party has changed party culture in general.
In what way?
When it started, we were very much in the "everyone standing around staring at each other poppin’ bottles" style of party — the worst kind of party in my opinion. My peer group of young professionals hated those types of events. With this, it peeled back the layers of pretentiousness and brought a different level of cool to it. We’re still paying to go out but everyone is talking to each other now. It creates a different community of folks. It’s not centered around the alcohol. It’s just fun.
What can we expect from the Philly party?
We want you to feel like it’s more than worth it. It’s an open bar until the liquor is gone. We buy a ton of Hennessy so folks can drink sufficiently. There’s a full cash bar too, in case you don’t drink Hennessy. We have a ton of folks like that. The music is always A-plus. We’ve been known in the past to have a lot of guests come through, too. Artists like Pusha T, Wale, Ty Dolla $ign and Nipsey Hussle have all performed full sets over the years.
For more on Hennypalooza, visit: hennypalooza.com
Check out what you missed at their June party in the video below.