Jessica Roberts knows the playbook for themed DJ nights. As a member of the Good Taste Collective, an arts writer and a sought-after events programmer, she gathers talent and ideas for series — most recently Female Treble at Sound & Shoals, a showcase of women with chops behind the boards.
After the election in 2016 her work off the clock took on a new premise: helping others, but at the bar. And there are fewer specific prompts for playlists these days.
“I’m tired of rules,” she laughs on the phone.
Tonight she and two of her best friends, Jane Aldridge (Sea of Shoes) and Catherine Downes (our dining editor) will celebrate the Parks and Rec -christened Galentine’s Day, which falls on Feb. 13th each year, at Single Wide starting at 8 p.m. Instead of gifting one another needlepoint pillows Leslie Knope-style, they’re bringing cosmetics for survivors of domestic abuse crises at Genesis Women’s Shelter — and tampons, pads, etc. for a North Texas distributor called Take Charge. Period. [sic]. Roberts hopes their wider circles will intersect and do the same, to a soundtrack of pop, glamorous disco and international cuts put together by the three women. It’ll be a mix of what they’d play for one another anyway, perhaps as they get ready for a night out.
During times of need, we often think to give the barest basics, Roberts says. But there’s a level of dignity that can change someone’s day in, say, an eyebrow pencil or skincare products, which the organizer says would make a difference for her if she were charged with leaving everything familiar to keep her family safe.
“We really need products in all shades and for all hair textures,” she says. “I have been encouraging people to ask folks who don’t look like them, what they would want. Buy a little something for a lady who looks like you, and buy a little something for someone who is different from you.”
Roberts knows her Dallas nightlife friends have a lot to give, and not just in the way of disposable income. After the 2016 election, the group that gathered with her to brainstorm ideas for helping communities in need were all leaders in the city’s club and venue scene. (AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Chris McDonald became Roberts’ partner of sorts for initial events.) Their initial conversations about how to mobilize their talented, busy peers all led back to meeting folks where they were at bars and venues.
On Jan. 21, under the Do Gooder name, Roberts called for people to make concrete commitments to volunteer at a meet-up held at DoubleWide where non-profits like Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, Inc. and Keep Dallas Beautiful set up shop within easy reach of the bar. Roberts says reps from skeleton-staffed orgs — with whom she relates, as a longtime funds-raiser for non-profit theaters and programs — found 75 people to serve directly, many of them offering professional skills like graphic design or translation.
“I think these events are an easy place for people to begin this work and still have a beer while they figure out what it means for them,” Roberts says.
As for this incarnation of the Do Gooder schema, Kim Finch, who helms Single Wide, has made space on the schedule for a version of tonight’s event to happen each month. What’s Roberts calling it? Time of the Monthly, naturally.
Here’s a playlist she sent along, for a taste of what’s to come at Single Wide. Be sure to check the Facebook event for updates on curbside assistance with donations.