By: DeoVonte “Deo” Means
After what seemed like an eternal hiatus, this fall we noticed that one part of the legendary K-Dock team began to slowly and quietly hit the scene again with sophisticated and selective events. The quality was not shocking, rather the re-emergence of what some can arguably say was one of the most prolific event/promotional companies in the Chicago urban LGBTQ community. If there is anything going on in the city of Chicago for the urban LGBTQ community, David Dodd is somehow always involved. David Dodd is an award-winning executive with a decade of marketing, public relations, communications and community relations experience. David had a desire to find a way to combine his passion for marketing and the LGBTQ community, and recently formed an extension to his D Square Communications brand with the creation of D Square Events special event production company. D Square Events (known as D2E), will focus on providing the urban LGBTQ community with a sophisticated event experience. David is not new to the scene. For more than five years, he and his best friends, under the umbrella of K-Dock Media, were standard bearers and created some of the most well-known events that hit Chicago’s urban LGBTQ social scene. An ardent supporter of the LGBT community, David has given his time to support numerous community organizations such as Windy City Black Pride, National Youth Pride Services and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Currently, he serves on the board of the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus, and he is also the former Director of Community Engagement for the Black Alphabet Film Festival, Chicago’s first international film festival dedicated to showcasing film and works that explore the lives of LGBTQ people of African descent. David holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Chicago State University and is currently a graduate student pursuing a Master of Business Administration at National Louis University.
D2E will host their pre-MLK weekend event called DREAM on Saturday night and it will take place at Fleetwood in the South Loop. We thought it would be an excellent time to chat with David, and here is what he had to say.
FL– You were once a part of the team that made up the legendary but now defunct K-Dock team. Can you officially inform us what led to its demise?
DD-I’m not sure that I would say demise as that sounds like there was some trouble in the water and that was not the case. We were quite successful until our decision to end the business. Many members of the team were ready to move on and pursue other endeavors in and out of the city. That’s just the nature of business and life. We were best friends who worked well together and we are still best friends. Supporting them in their life goals was more important.
FL– You are now CEO of D2E (D Square Events). It appears you are embracing a strategy of humbly starting all over and slowly building the brand. What is your mission statement and what energy do you plan to bring to the city?
DD- It takes time to build a brand and I am looking forward to what’s in store. I don’t think that I am starting over but more like reimagining. D2E’s mission is to produce high quality events for Chicago’s black LGBTQ community. It will consist of a variety of events with a specific focus on our community. It’s not just about nightlife but invigorating the community with other ways to engage.
FL– Describe a normal D2E event.
DD- There isn’t a thing as a “normal” D2E event as there will be a variety of events produced under the brand. At this time, D2E is producing a more intimate monthly event in the South Loop. It is a social experience that allows guests to meet others, have wonderful food and enjoy a variety of music.
FL– What has been your biggest obstacle to overcome in your years of marketing and promotions for the urban LGBT community?
DD- The biggest obstacle is identifying partners (i.e., club owners, venues, sponsors, etc.) who view the black LGBTQ community as an opportunity and want develop lasting relationships.
FL-D2E is now positioning itself as a major player in a sea full of big sharks. How do you plan to differentiate your brand and product from competitors?
DD-I do not look at the other promoters or party planners as competition but more like allies. We all have our niches that differentiate us from each other – some of it planned and most of it by perception. I am glad that there are options for our community to select from to have a wonderful time. This is also not my first time at the rodeo and I understand all of the complexities and sometimes messiness that comes with hosting events. I am focused on building D2E and seeing where it takes the brand. As mentioned before, D2E’s mission is to produce high quality events for Chicago’s black LGBTQ community. I want to create long-lasting memorable experiences that we can talk about for years.
FL– In all the work that’s put into your events, what’s the ultimate climatic moment when you realize it has not only been a success but well worth it?
DD- I have been creating and implementing events in Chicago for more than ten years. I don’t think that I have ever really felt that producing events have not been well worth it. We, black LGBTQ people, do not have a lot of spaces in the City of Chicago where we can convene and be among our community. My goal is to continue to provide opportunities where we can meet one another to have dialogue and cultural exchanges. It is also well worth it when I receive feedback from attendees who tell me that they enjoyed themselves and want to be kept informed. Furthermore, it is not say that there isn’t any financial success that comes with the business but that is not my driving force.
FL– The professional class oftentimes feels discouraged from attending events due to the quality. How do you plan to market to them and get them once again active in our nightlife?
DD-I don’t think I am targeting professionals. We are professionals in our right and I do not want to put anything out there that would be discriminatory. I am creating event experiences that I would like to attend and hope others will jump on the bandwagon to see what I am doing and decide if it is the experience for them. My goal is to make sure that when someone walks through the doors of a D2E event that they have a great time. Quality is relative and depends on one’s own expectations. I will never produce an event that I wouldn’t attend.
FL– You, David Dodd, are a highly visible member of our community but most people still view you as a myth. Using 5 adjectives, let us know who is the real David Dodd?
DD- Do people really view me as a myth? I find that interesting but here are the words to describe me:
FL– What is your biggest insecurity?
DD- This is getting deep…LOL. My biggest insecurity is judgment from people who may not know me, my character, or my heart, and using this information (or lack thereof) to determine who I am as a person.
FL-If you could change three things about the LGBT nightlife of Chicago, what would it be? (Don’t have 3)
1) Those of us who are producing LGBTQ-centric parties/events in the city to have better working dynamic.
2) More places for the LGBTQ community to patronize on a given weekend.
FL– What has been your biggest personal accomplishment in LGBT promotion to date and why?
DD-I think my biggest accomplishment is the very first White Party that K Dock hosted in 2010. It was my very first event as a promoter and it garnered attendance of more than 600 people, received excellent press coverage, raised more than $2,000 for an LGBTQ-centric non-profit organization and it was done by the people that I love – my best friends. It was an unforgettable evening of fun and triumph.
FL– We’ve seen a surge in new promotional companies debuting and dying out within 6 months to a year. How can we know that you are here to stay?
DD-The event/party business can be very fickle regardless of the demographic that one serves and getting a consistent group of patrons is extremely tough. With anything that I do, I will continue to put forth my best efforts and work diligently to ensure that D2E has longevity and name recognition within the community. That is going to take some time but I am up for the challenge.
FL-What are some of the things/events you have planned for the near future?
DD-You will have to wait and see…LOL
FL– Where can readers follow or find more info on D2E?
DD-Readers can always look for my personal Facebook Page, David Dodd, as I will always post information about D2E’s happenings there. In addition, you can also follow D2E on Instagram (@d2events). You can also send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.