by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Staff Writer
Night FantAsia's 2010
Nijo Bar and Grill
On February 27, Erik Bjarne Witzoe, a graphic media and event designer, and Jonathan Mathews, owner of Kwanchai design group, celebrated 11 years of Night FantAsia, a celebration of the Seattle LGBT Asian community.
"There is so much diversity within the LGBT community, and that includes ethnic diversity," Mathews told SGN. "Fortunately, we live in one of the few countries where we can be reasonably comfortable celebrating being LGBT, but also mix with others of completely different ethnic and cultural backgrounds."
Night FantAsia 2010 was held at Nijo Sushi Bar & Grill (83 Spring St. in downtown Seattle). The venue added a comfortable, friendly touch to the event. Nijo management charged happy hour prices for all food and drink, and Witzoe and Mathews booked a DJ and Seattle drag sensation Aleksa Manila as hostess. In addition to making new friends and meeting old ones, the night was a great way to come together and revel in the diversity of the LGBT community in Seattle.
"Events like Night FantAsia give the ethnic LGBT Asians a chance to come together and celebrate with others who are interested in learning more about their culture," Mathews told SGN.
Since the events inception in 1999, every LGBT Asian event Witzoe and Mathews organize is inspired by the desire to bring the community together to celebrate the diversity of the LGBT Asian culture and foster a greater understanding.
"Originally, Night FantAsia was a monthly event," said Mathews. "In 2005, the event became yearly."
The hostess, Aleksa Manila, debuted at Night FantAsia in October 2001. "Through the years, Aleksa has been an important part of this event, and many other events we organize," Mathews said. "She has such an awe-inspiring connection with the community, as well as a great heart."
Mathews says Aleksa has been a mentor to many. "We continue to invite Aleksa Manila back, not only because of her great talent, but also to connect with the past history of the event," he said.
Night FantAsia is just one of many collaborations between Mathews and Witzoe. In May, the two organize Syttenede Gay, a Gay Scandinavian event in Ballard. The event is held on May 17, Norway's Constitution Day. "Much like Night FantAsia, we celebrate the Gay Nordic community and those interested in learning more about them," said Mathews.
"Another ongoing social event is our happy hour at the offices of Kwanchai once a month," he said. "We choose a charity in the community at large and raise funds for them. Complimentary appetizers and cocktails are served to invited guests while we educate them about the various charities." Kwanchai is located at 511 Boren Ave. N., Suite 100.
"Much of our work is a collaboration between local non-profits, the business community and various talents in the Gay and straight communities," said Mathews. "We continue to focus on bringing different groups together."
If you are interested in knowing more about Kwanchai, including upcoming events, visit Mathews and Witzoe online at www.kwanchai.net.
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