Local invites all to birthday rager
Savannah Douglas/ The Daily Wildcat
Joe Payac, a local artist, incorporates themes of his upcoming Alpine Lodge party into his human terrerium. The party will be held at Hotel Congress on Saturday.
If you’ve ever wanted to party like a lumberjack, now’s your chance: Local artist Joe Pagac is celebrating his 33rd birthday with a 21 , alpine lodge-themed party at Hotel Congress on Saturday, and everyone’s invited.
This isn’t the first time Pagac has opened his birthday celebration up to the general public, but the lodge theme is slightly out of the ordinary for him.
“Almost every party I’ve thrown for the last couple years has either been, like, 70s-themed, or somehow very close to naked-themed,” he said, laughing. “So I wanted to go the other direction, and have people be clothed.”
Pagac has arranged for snow machines and a warmly crackling fire playing on TV to complete Hotel Congress’ transformation into a winter wonderland, while multiple DJs will blast music to dance to. Specials on drinks like hot toddys and apple cider will also be available to keep the flannel-clad guests toasty.
Pagac said he throws about three big parties open to the public every year.
“It started, actually, just with me not wanting to throw parties at my house anymore, and starting to take them out to the bars,” Pagac said. “They started getting so big that I started throwing them as open-to-the-public parties.”
Hotel Congress was an ideal location for the event because he used to work there as curator of the lobby gallery, Pagac said, and the staff there knows he can bring in quite a crowd. About 1,200 people in lingerie, boxers and thongs showed up to Pagac’s underwear party at Hotel Congress last summer, which featured a pillow fight room and a human terrarium, a large glass tank for people to pose in.
“They actually had to close that terrarium down, because it went from R-rated to X-rated in there,” Pagac said.
To fit with the alpine lodge theme, a miniature alpine forest with real trees will replace the human terrarium as a photo op spot for guests at Saturday’s event.
He may be well-known for his parties, but Pagac’s main focus is his art.
“I don’t want to just become a party promoter,” Pagac said. “I want to keep it as a small part of my life.”
A UA alumnus with a degree in visual communication and illustration, Pagac has painted murals all over Tucson, including inside Hotel Congress, on the side of the Rialto, at Trader Joe’s and at local restaurants. Currently, he’s at work on stage backdrops for the very venue at which he’s holding his bash.
Though planning large-scale parties may be a far cry from painting murals, Pagac still sees them as an opportunity to exercise his creativity.
“It gives me chances to build weird shit and build weird sets, which I think is my favorite part,” he said. “I honestly own, I think, more costumes than I own regular clothes.”
Saturday’s alpine lodge-themed party is free, and Pagac isn’t expecting guests to bring gifts or cake.
“For me, it’s not as much about celebrating my birthday as just everyone having a really fun time,” he said.
- Joey Fisher contributed reporting