Nashville’s big, gay MeatUp party set to grind in Louisville’s Butchertown

By Spencer Jenkins he/him

Booty shorts, knee-high socks and belly-revealing crop tops are just some of the looks to embody for the Nashville-based event, MeatUp, coming to PLAY Louisville on May 27.

There is no cover for MeatUp. There is a cover into the drag show. The theater and Meatup are separate for the night.

MeatUp is an event created by couple Al Gregory and Toby Sturgill, and their friend Griffin Green. It offers a retro-inspired experience for men seeking in-person connections within an era dominated by queer dating apps. Each MeatUp event, or episode, boasts a nostalgic cruising theme. Some of these include “Hanky Panky,” “Beefcake,” “Rawhide,” “Gym Class,” “Commando,” “Gear Up,” and Louisville’s first episode titled “Meat Locker.” The Louisville episode pays homage to the Butchertown neighborhood, where PLAY is located.

“We want to show some of the younger gays what life was like before everything was digital,” Gregory said. “MeatUp gives you a glimpse into what gay culture was and how we had to meet each other back in the day.”

If you’re one to dive into the world of OnlyFans, some of you might recognize their special guest, Bookatea!

Not sure what to wear? No need to worry, MeatUp has your back. Head over to their Instagram page and check out their “looks.” And, if you’re feeling hesitant about attending, the event is open to all body types, regardless of size. While the event holds roots in gay male nostalgia, it is gender-expansive, respectful, and kind—no homophobes, transphobes, or jerks allowed.

MeatUp, similar to the dating app Sniffies, plays on a popular theme of nostalgia. Gay nostalgia is a sentimental longing for past eras or culture within LGBTQ+ history, including activism and progress made during past liberation movements, as well as fashion, music, and other cultural elements. It’s a way of connecting with LGBTQ+ history and identity.

The first episode was in May 2022, but MeatUp has been in the works since the pandemic. Green, a DJ that many Kentuckians have seen over the years at local bars in Louisville, said MeatUp is an event unlike anything he has had the opportunity to perform for.

“Al, Toby and I have been friends for several years and the concept came to us one day while simpling hanging out,” Green said. “Once we got the groundwork going, I felt this concept would be a great match with the way I have branded myself as a DJ and having performed at several of their events in the past, I absolutely knew I wanted to continue to work together on this next adventure.”

The trio pitched the event idea to several bars around Nashville, but only one was genuinely sold on the vision and saw MeatUp as an opportunity. 

“Tribe was the only bar we met with that immediately saw our vision and wanted to champion it,” Sturgill said. “Other bars saw us as clients; Tribe said yes and saw us as partners.”

The three agree that MeatUp has become the talk of the town in Nashville’s gay nightlife and believe it will also take hold in Louisville. Between the nostalgic vibes of an almost lost queer history and Green’s intentionally curated DJ sets, the gays are flocking to the event.

“Depending on the theme, I also try to mix in samples that relate to that episode as well,” Green said. “I played a house heavy, less vocals Johnny Cash remix during the ‘Rawhide’ theme last year and an edit of ‘Physical’ by Olivia Newton-John during the Gym Class themed MeatUp.”

The Nashville Trio hopes MeatUp will become a Louisville staple and continue growing.

“I believe this concept is something not being executed in this specific way within the Louisville community and it gives attendees the opportunity to experience an environment different from anything else” Green said.  “It also adds a noteworthy experience for the community to the Louisville calendar and will hopefully encourage people from the surrounding communities to come to Louisville as well.” 

From the event branding, to the music, to the plans in place for the décor and layout for this summer, MeatUp is something unlike anything the city has experienced in recent years and will excite the city just as much as it has excited Nashville.

The event is free at PLAY Louisville Saturday, May 27 from 10pm-3am in the front patio bar of PLAY. The space will be changed in a way “you’ve never experienced it before.”