While John & Peter's is known for live music, in 2002 some sneaky club kids busted their way in and started having epic dance parties. These parties had EVERYTHING: drag queens, girl groups and boy bands, dancing, costumes, and dildos. Nothing was off-limits and everyone was welcome. Find out more about Red Rover...
Josh Eschen (Red Rover Co-Founder): Do you want to go first with your version of events and then I'll tell mine?
Katie Loughran (Red Rover Co-Founder): Why don't I go first with my version and then you'll tell the truth. My memory isn’t the best. The way I remember it, Red Rover started when City Gardens and Zadar had shut down. There was nowhere to go, nowhere to hang out, nowhere to dance. I think we always just had a desire to throw parties, be creative, put on costumes, and most importantly hang out with our friends. [A bunch of friends] all lived at 58 S. Main Street in Lambertville, which was the headquarters for strange gatherings. The first Red Rover party was held there.
Josh Eschen: 2000 to 2001 was a real defining point in New Hope because you had Zadar, The Cartwheel, and a still-thriving gay club scene. Those were local places you could go to for dance nights so you wouldn't have to go to Trenton or New York or Philly. We started going to Zadar, and it was great because Rich O'Brien was DJing the back room. And then Zadar closed shortly after 9/11.
Katie Loughran: If we said we were throwing a house party, everybody came. If we said there was a theme, everybody participated. The level of commitment was 100%, every time. Friends from Brooklyn came to our parties because the party at 58 South Main was better than anything going on in New York.
Josh Weinstein (Red Rover regular): We drove through the darkness of night in the middle of the week, from our homes in Brooklyn, across the wilderness of the Garden State to a basement on the other side of the Delaware river. A lot of people can throw a party; Katie is the party.
Thierry Casias (Red Rover regular): No scene or circle I had encountered until then quite fit. Not the goth clubs, not the gay scene, not the artists, nor the punks. Don’t get me wrong, I navigated them all pretty well! But none were quite as freeing as the Red Rover nights. The parties themselves didn’t fit any template. And I didn’t fit in; in one way or another none of us did! And that was the point, and the comfort we all found. It was a bubble outside of our everyday lives where we were free to be our strange selves with total abandon.
One of the most legendary parties was "Hot."
Josh Eschen: The weirdest party had to be the Hot party. I remember that was the most surreal. It was August and it was a brutally hot. We were sort of scraping the bottom of the barrel for themes. We thought the theme should just be “Hot.”
Katie Loughran: We made a bunch of cellophane flames and taped them up all over. It was a Hell vibe. And we had a swimsuit competition.
Josh Eschen: I thought a swimsuit contest is absurd. Nobody's going to do that. I was so convinced it was going to be an absolute disaster. We brought [local bartender] Ricky Crosby in to be a judge and he took it very seriously. I remember Katie had a bunch of people from her work show up, and there were all these people I didn't know, But - in for a penny, in for a pound. I said if we're doing this, I'm going to have to get up there and do the swimsuit thing too. I was dressed in a red Playboy photographer shirt because we always were trying to find new red things to wear. I had on these kind of red Speedos but it was underwear that said, “Are you sure?” on the front.
Katie Loughran: I also definitely had underwear that said, “Are you sure?” I didn't know Josh and I had matching underwear. All I know is, if we had matching underwear, that's a whole new level to our friendship.
Josh Eschen: Katie was the one who gave it to me! I got up on stage, said “We're going to do this swimsuit contest so anybody who wants to get up and be judged, go right ahead. But I'm going to kick things off!” I took off pretty much everything. The next thing I knew, behind me there was a crowd of people on that little stage of John & Peter’s in fucking bikinis, bathing suits. And full-on [David Miller] Dog Boy being Dog Boy.
Katie Loughran: Dog Boy definitely is in my top five of people who would commit to party themes. He used to wear this necklace with the letter O, it was fridge magnet from Nathan's kids. For the Hot Party, he went to the tanning salon, purposefully with the O necklace on so that he had a red sunburnt chest with the O in white skin. All night he kept saying, “Look! Look!” and pointing to it. It was crazy. But that's what I mean, the level of commitment was totally over the top.
David Miller (aka Dog Boy): I just like dressing up and looking silly. It was fun! I still have it the “O” necklace. Keira was giving her father [J&Ps bartender Nathan] presents to bribe him from going to work, and she ran out to the refrigerator and pulled off this “O” magnet, and gave it to him. And he's like, “Look, honey, I have to go.” And she goes, “It's not for you, it's for Dogboy!” So he came to work, and he gave that to me and he said it was from Keira. I wore it for years. Now it hangs on the doorknob to my bedroom.
Katie Loughran: I said I was having a party with a swimsuit competition and my coworker showed up in a stars and stripes bikini.
Josh Eschen: Your coworker Dawn had a red, white and blue American flag bikini. She looked amazing. She could have been a bikini model. But I remember thinking, “We've gone too far. This is too much.”
Katie Loughran: I felt like we had just gone far enough. I thought it was perfect.
To read the FULL story of Red Rover and much more - pre-order "Still Drinkin' & Smokin', Rockin' & Rollin': An Oral History of John & Peter’s."