Big Changes for Stimulus

With Marathon Grill closing, what happens to the popular Stimulus and Arouse parties next year?


Stimulus at the Marathon at 10th and Chestnut (courtesy of Stimulus)

Stimulus and Arouse have been attracting thousands of LGBT revelers since they were first launched a few years ago by Morgan Levine and Amber Hikes as a lesbian-friendly alternative to the nightlife scene in Philly. But with news that Marathon Grill would be restructuring with several closures early next year (Marathon has been home base for the events) all bets are off for 2012.

The venue on Chestnut is closing, as is the Marathon at 10th and Walnut, which has been one of the most popular destinations for the parties in close proximity to the Gayborhood.

Amber Hikes and Morgan Levine

“Chestnut was due to a leasing dispute with the landlords,” says Kevin Kong, a spokesperson for Marathon Grill. “And 10th and Walnut was due to separation with our longtime partners – the Spains. They got that venue as part of the terms of our separation, and have elected to have our good friends at Guest Counts Hospitality operate it.”

Levine says both she and her business partner Hikes first heard the news in November, as the two were putting the finishing touches on their big New Year’s Eve event. “When we asked Marathon about the rumors, they told us ‘buyers’ were looking at the location, but no offers were made yet,” explains Levine. “Then we read the news on on December 8th and a Marathon representative confirmed the information for us on December 12th.”

Rumors had been swirling for awhile about the impending closure or sale. “We were not extremely surprised that they were closing,” says Levine, “as we heard the rumors a month earlier. But we were surprised that no one from Marathon contacted us directly.”

But both Levine and Hikes are taking it in stride and using it as a way to rethink the events. After all, on the nightlife scene, things can go stale pretty quickly. “Our mindset is that everything happens for a reason,” says Levine. “This change is an opportunity for us to improve and grow in 2012.”

As of now, the women are looking for a new, larger venue for Stimulus since the crowd has been growing in recent months.

“We’ll be seeking a multi-level space with several bars and a capacity of 500-plus,” says Hikes. “Currently, Arouse, our second-Saturday event, is a circuit party, rotating to different venues throughout the city each month. We love the flexibility this has given us and the opportunity for our Stimulus family to be exposed to different venues.”

The experience is leading Levine and Hikes to consider the future of Stimulus, as well, which has no signs of going away anytime soon. “We do have plans,” Levine says, “but we won’t be releasing those details for now.”

And as for Marathon, new locations could be one solution. “We have been discussing the potential of possibly opening new locations,” says Kong, “but at this point, I cannot confirm anything.”