High Tech Happy Hour marks an anniversary with a new ‘experiment’ by Turtle Creek Chorale
JAMES RUSSELL | Staff Writer
When the High Tech Happy Hour began 19 years ago, organizers for the gathering of LGBT Texas Instrument employees sometimes had a hard time finding a venue.
“It was a challenge to find a location that would publicly welcome LGBT people,” said Paul von Wupperfeld.
Now, they have a different problem — the good kind: “The group is so large it’s hard to find a space” big enough.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case for other, similar groups. Austin’s main LGBT happy hour folded just last month, after 15 years.
Von Wupperfeld, an 18-year veteran of Dallas’ 19-year-old get-together, is just happy it has lasted this long.
The High Tech Happy hour gathering grew out of the TI Pride Network, the LGBT employee resource group for Texas Instruments founded in 1995 by, among other trailblazers, Louise Young.
After TI spun off divisions that later created corporations like Raytheon, former colleagues formed the happy hour to stay in touch.
The group has stayed close to its roots; many of the original attendees still mark it in their planners. Among them is Mark Quigley, a former TI employee now working at Worth Ross and Associates.
He may have moved jobs, but Quigley still attends because there’s always something new.
“I love it because there is no set agenda. The only agenda is to relax and have fun,” he said.
Moving to different locations across the city also helps attendees see the city.
“Moving to a new place every month keeps it fresh,” Quigley said. “It’s also exciting.”
But sustaining that excitement also requires some strategic planning.
That’s how von Wupperfeld connected with Bruce Jaster, executive director of the Turtle Creek Chorale. And now, at the next High Tech Happy Hour, on Sept. 11 at Sambuca-Uptown, Turtle Creek Chorale will debut it’s new “second season.”
The “second season,” as Jaster described it, features cabaret performances and soloists in more intimate settings. The experiment accompanies the chorale’s four main stage performances at City Performance Hall.
Jaster and von Wupperfeld promised the entertainment at the High Tech Happy Hour will certainly please the crowd.
“It’ll be a crowd pleaser for the happy hour, Jaster said. “But it’s what best for us too.”
The venue is also a perfect spot for a show, the men agreed.
“[Sambuca stages events] beautifully. Their venue provides the perfect club atmosphere for [the type of performance we’re seeking],” Jaster said.
Not only does von Wupperfeld hope the show will entertain High Tech Happy Hour regulars, he hopes it will bring in some new faces, too.
“The name High Tech Happy Hour comes from history. It was founded when e-mail and other technology was not as universal, like [it is] now,” von Wupperfeld said.
But in an age where people are glued to their phones, even at happy hours, the name “high tech” could deceive prospective attendees.
“People sometimes say, ‘Well I can’t attend, I’m not in high tech.’ But we tell them everyone is welcome. You don’t have to be in the field to attend.
“If you enjoy live music or performances, come on down and have a good time,” von Wupperfeld said.
But if you miss this one, don’t worry. The group shouldn’t be going away any time soon.
Nor will the name.
High Tech Happy Hour
Sept. 11 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
2120 McKinney Ave.
Free. Contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 4, 2015.