Five years in, Mostbeautifullest has altered Pittsburgh's nightlife scene for the better

click to enlarge A group of Black DJs and performers wearing club outfits pose during an outdoor event.
Photo: Courtesy of sarah huny young
Mostbeautifullest at Trace Brewing
When estimating how many people are involved with Mostbeautifullest, a Pittsburgh-based queer and Black femme-led event collective, creative director sarah huny young says it really depends on the day.

“MoB is more of a membership or social club than a crew at this point,” says huny, who also works as a professional photographer and artist. “There are MoB ‘members’ who are also in other collectives and who aren't DJs at all; they're drag queens, event photographers, etc. The only consistency is that everyone who performs as a part of Mostbeautifullest is a Black woman or QTBIPOC.”

Some of those members, as well as huny (who DJs under the capitalized HUNY), will be seen this weekend during Demon Time, an event celebrating MoB’s five-year anniversary. Taking place on Sat., Oct. 29 at Cobra in Bloomfield, the party reflects the group’s longtime love of Halloween while showcasing both local and national acts.

“We're oddities who let our freak flag fly every day,” says huny, adding that “Halloween is the one time a year where everyone joins us.”  The holiday is, huny says, “essential to Black and brown LGBTQ+ culture, and every ball has a theme.”

First formed in 2017 under the moniker Darkness is Spreading, huny says MoB has since grown its mission to create “overtly welcoming spaces for intersectional Blackness,” and to elevate talent in the city’s entertainment scene that huny felt had been overlooked.

“I didn't enjoy the majority of my clubbing experiences when I first moved to Pittsburgh — the expectation to perform desirability for men, or that men were dominating almost every roster and curating all the vibes,” says huny.

As MoB events grew in popularity, namely the monthly DJ night Cherry Bomb at Spirit in Lawrenceville, huny says she was able to better concentrate on building lineups that featured Black women and gender non-conforming femmes, something she “didn't see in this city at all" and still rarely does outside of MoB events.

“As a Black queer woman, I also didn't see DJ lineups that were entirely Black and queer, so that became the main focus as I started DJing myself and gained access to venues that provided us an opportunity to do bigger parties,” she says.
click to enlarge A Black female DJ holds up her smartphone to photograph an energetic dance crowd.
Photo: Courtesy of sarah huny young
huny of Mostbeautifullest
She cites Cherry Bomb as the “first indoor party at Spirit since pre-pandemic,” and says its success allowed her to invite talent from out-of-town that she previously would not be able to afford. Besides Cherry Bomb, MoB also created Doll House, a drag showcase for all-Black trans performers, and co-founded the underground dance party Maybeland. The group has also been featured at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Trace Brewing, and other venues.

In addition to her own efforts, huny also credits girlFx, a residency and event series at the former Ace Hotel in East Liberty, for laying a lot of groundwork for “women and nonbinary people in Pittsburgh nightlife before MoB even existed.”

Overall, huny says she sees more variety in the Pittsburgh club scene now in terms of the acts being booked and the popularity of other regularly produced events like Jellyfish, a queer-focused dance party at P Town in Oakland, and Slappers N Bangers, where fans get to hear a wealth of hip hop, R&B, and trap music.

“Both parties are fun as hell and headed by amazing people I call friends, but I want Black queer people to have an equivalent,” says huny. “That can't happen without consistent support. Consistency is the keyword.”

She believes consistency can be challenging in Pittsburgh, where Black LGBTQ+ people are “such a minority.”

“Sometimes I question if The MoB vision is even wanted by other Black queer people in this city,” huny says, adding, “Not if it's needed  it is  but wanted. Go insane with sharing and spreading the word and attending, especially when you see us bringing in heavy-hitting Black LGBTQ+ talent. Show all these venues that Black LGBTQ+ community should be catered to. Show us you want it.”
click to enlarge Three Black DJs stand lined up behind a table with laptops, turntables, and other equipment.
Photo: Courtesy of sarah huny young
Five years in, huny believes MoB has proven that “a party could go hard and be successful with Black girls ruling the decks,” but that there are “still a lot of opportunities we're not considered for or still waiting on because the nightlife industry as a whole continues to be male-dominated.”

“We have residencies I'm mad grateful for, but there's still nowhere to go in this city, on an every-weekend basis, to club or rave with other QTBIPOC,” she says. “I'm still loudly challenging and demanding space. Eventually, someone with power will listen.”

For now, though, she just wants everyone to have a fun, sexy time at Cobra and Spirit. For Demon Time, partiers will experience music by national acts from Houston, New York City, Philadelphia, Columbus, and Detroit, as well as Pittsburghers like ROJO.

“On Halloween, ‘Halloween’ is the theme and everybody walks!” huny says. “We're pro-fun and anti-pretentiousness and it's way more difficult to have a shitty night or act too cool to let loose when you're dressed as a slutty bag of popcorn or whatever. And personally, I'm a Scorpio moon and a li'l dark and twisted, so this is the most wonderful time of the year for me. It's magical.”

Mostbeautifullest presents Demon Time. 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Sat., Oct. 29. Cobra. 4305 Main St., Bloomfield. $15-50. 21 and over.