Earlier this year, local cousins and house music enthusiasts Katie Marie Benisch-Egan (she/her) and Kelsey Morgan (she/her) launched NPT HAUS, an event production company focused on building an inclusive community grounded in a love of house and techno music. Their first dance parties at Bar and Board Bistro’s Leopard Lounge this winter were a smashing success, and the duo is planning an even bigger dance party at Parlor Bar & Kitchen on Saturday, May 7th, featuring Boston DJs Cakewalk and Kerry Quirk. Tickets are on sale here.
Benisch-Egan, who learned how to DJ during the pandemic, and Morgan, who owns local beauty salon Level Beauty Collective, have been attending shows together since they were teenagers. “We both spent quite a bit of time in Miami and truly want to tap into a bit of that steamy city’s energy and bring quality dance music to Newport,” Morgan said.
Through NPT HAUS events, the cousins seek to bring new musical talent and diversity to Newport’s music scene. “We both agree that we are tired of going to Newport bars and hearing the same top 40 tunes,” Morgan said. “‘Sweet Caroline’ is literally nails on a chalkboard for us at this point. We get that people crave the familiar, but we seek to provide a groovy atmosphere where folx of varied musical interests can unite over a love of the beat rather than a desire to get overly intoxicated and belt out ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ for the 100,000th time.”
We had a chance to catch-up with Benisch-Egan and Morgan via email to learn more about NPT HAUS and future plans for the venture. Read on for the full interview.
Tell us a bit about your background and your ties to Newport or Rhode Island in general?
Kelsey Morgan: I own a hair salon called Level Beauty Collective in downtown Newport. My mission at Level Beauty Collective is to change the beauty narrative by providing quality work, affordable prices, and zero salon stigma. Meaning, that when you walk through the doors, you are welcomed. I’ve partnered with non-profits such as “The Dress Code Project” which believes “hair has no gender” and helps non-binary folx and people who are undergoing a transition to another sex find a safe space to get their hair done. Level Beauty Collective only uses sustainable products that are cruelty-free. Right before COVID,, I hosted an “underground music” night at the salon and left the floor open to any artists who wanted to perform. I also raised money for a Providence-based nonprofit called “Riot RI”. Seeing the music community come out to a tiny space really inspired me to continue throwing events. My target clientele is very similar to Katie’s clientele so joining forces was easy and NPT HAUS came very naturally.
Katie Marie Benisch-Egan: I started throwing events at the age of 16 when I partnered with Elemental Surf and Skate to host surf contests to benefit the Potter League. Over the past 15 years, I’ve worked both independently and with organizations such as WaterFire Providence to throw an array of local events catering to music, revelry, and community. Currently, I own Unalome Designs, a clothing company that has been operating out of Providence for the past seven years. I focus on sustainable apparel design and have set up shop at hundreds of music festivals across the country. My target market has always been fun-loving humans who want to feel sexy and comfortable, so it makes sense that the next step for me would be throwing events myself!
Why did you create NPT HAUS and what was the inspiration?
Kelsey Morgan: We both travel pretty far to listen and dance to good music. I’ve always felt the most at home at a festival or a concert. These places provide a safe space for you to truly be your authentic self. I grew tired of the nightlife in Newport and never felt like I truly “belonged” at any of the bars here. Instead of complaining about it further, I decided to take the power back by joining Katie to bring my love of house and techno music to our area. Partnering with Dani and the incredible team over at Newport Out has been an absolute dream. As inclusivity is our main concern, we can’t imagine a better crew to throw events with.
Katie Marie Benisch-Egan: I attended my first Burning Man in 2012. Ever since that fateful week, I’ve been in love with the brilliant counter-cultural revolutions that can be seen in small pockets of creative individuals across the world. House and techno music nourishes a convergence of human beings who are dynamic, tech-savvy, movers and shakers who are not afraid to break the mold of what conservative, white-washed society considers to be acceptable. One needs only to pop into NYC, Miami or San Francisco to understand that house and techno music are the heartbeats of these cities. We want to capture this in Newport.
I picked up DJing during COVID and was eager to play to an audience of human beings who appreciate dance music. I dig within the depths of the internet to find unheard tunes that can light up a dance floor by inciting curiosity and movement. As house music comes straight out of Detroit and Chicago and was revolutionized by queer folx and POC, I truly appreciate the lineage of this sound and strive to tell this story through my mixes.
We believe this: Sound has the potential to take us deep within ourselves as human beings and help us to understand and unravel the inherent nature of our universe. A great song can occupy a unique place in our soul.
What have your past events been like?
Kelsey Morgan: We didn’t know what to expect or if anyone would even come to the first show. After the show (at Bar and Board Bistro) the manager told us they’ve only had one busier night: July 4th before COVID. And we did that in the dead of winter! Our resident DJs Katie Marie and Matt Kenny provided a four-hour set, both played solo and they went back-to-back for the last two hours. There wasn’t much of a dance floor and it did get very crowded, so we decided to sell tickets the next time around.
Tickets for our second event (our last event) on April 2nd sold out in less than 72 hours. We wanted to improve the flow of traffic and utilize the room at its full potential, so we set up “Boiler room style.” We put the DJs in the middle of the room so everyone could have ample space to groove. The production for this took a few hours because we brought in double the sound which is super important for the quality of the music. We also surprised our crowd with Drag Kings and Queens for a three-song performance in the middle of the evening. We had guests who had never seen anything like it with huge smiles on their faces. That’s exactly what motivates us to continue! We want to bring something different to this town and get people out of their comfort zones.
What are the details of your May 7th event?
Kelsey Morgan: Our May 7th show will be at Parlor. We have two legendary DJs coming from Boston, Cakewalk and Kerry Quirk, and Katie will be spinning as well. There will be more surprises – the only thing we can say is to get there early! Tickets are on sale here.
What is your vision for the future of NPT HAUS?
Kelsey Morgan: We would absolutely love the chance to throw a party on one of the mansion’s lawns. Think Cercle, but Newport addition! Can we take over Fort Adams, one of the beaches, or some other destination? How cool would it be to revel in the glory of Newport’s famed scenery while grooving to dance music provided by world-class DJs & Producers on a top-notch sound system? Can we get 600 like-minded humans together for an epic summer dance party? We think so!