In Memorium: DJ Kris Kono
Recently, Boston’s queer community lost an influential and beloved member with the passing of DJ Kris Kono.
Kris Kono, originally from Hartford, CT, currently residing in Roslindale MA, got her start in the DJ business at her father’s nightclub while in high school. Kris has been spinning at top lesbian parties for over a decade. Kris headlined New York City’s Pride pier dances, Lesbomonde in Montreal, Aqua Girl in South Beach and the Esmé block party in Boston. Locally, she has filled dance floors from Provincetown’s Vixen to Boston’s Lava Bar and Club Lucy in Hartford.
Most recently and for many years, she has the been the event-partner of Kristen Porter’s Dyke Night Productions and resident DJ for their events Second Saturday at Machine, New England’s largest women’s dance party, and Fourth Friday at the Milky Way – both voted Best of
She was a Physical Therapist at New England Baptist hospital and leaves behind her partner, Boston Globe writer, Beth Healy.
Queer Women in Music Boston asked Dyke Night Productions founder, business partner, and close friend Kristen Porter to tell us more about this amazing woman and her influence on Boston’s music scene.
QWIMB: When did you first meet DJ Kris Kono?
I met Kris in Provincetown in 1998. It is a funny story actually which we often joked about. I approached her at a club and asked her out on a date and she turned me down. I figured if she wouldn’t date me, we’d be perfect working together.
QWIMB: How did she get started as a DJ? What was her style like?
Kris got her start as a deejay in high school spinning at her father’s nightclub in Hartford CT. In the women’s community, she had residencies at legendary nights like Club Lucy, Lava Bar, Esme, and Dyke Night. Although her personal taste was house music, at women’s events she played popular dance music and requests.
QWIMB: In a career that spanned 15 years, how did Kono keep up with the changing trends
It was her passion, so she ate, slept, breathed music. She deejay’d in both the women’s community and the house music community so she kept her finger on both pulses.
QWIMB: What do you think will be her lasting legacy in the scene?
I think her lasting legacy was who she was as a person: a kind, loving, and peaceful soul. Kris had an authentically caring, non-ego bound spirit who truly wanted to work collaboratively. Music moved her and she was passionate about sharing her love with others. Spinning to a room of a thousand women each month brought her great joy – joy that she shared selflessly with all those around her.
QWIMB: Thank you Kristen for helping us memorialize such a treasured member of our community.
Her Legacy Will Live On
Kris’ legacy will continue to live on in the lives of all the people she has touched, as well as in the DJ community itself. The response from Boston’s DJ community has been one of sadness, but also gratitude, for the road that was paved for them by the hard work and dedication of Kris Kono.
“Kris always gave away music to other DJs. She actually offered to download her entire huge library onto CDs and give them to me. Once, when I was about to DJ a large dance with many Latin requests she just handed me the perfect mix of salsa, meringue and bachata.
Her musical tastes were diverse, and she always knew what to play for any given crowd. I loved watching her DJ at Machine and MilkyWay. She seamlessly flowed between old, new, pop, house, club and Latin music.
I admired Kris immensely, as did everyone else. She certainly has been my role model and teacher.
Kris Kono -generous in spirit, musical, and always hitting the right note and finding the right beat. It all came from her huge heart. I miss her so.”
-DJ Ann Rogers
“I first heard DJ Kris Kono at The Vixen in Provincetown back in 1995. I was a New Jersey girl visiting the Cape for the first time. A few years later I moved to Boston to attend law school and there was Kris Kono again, this time at The Lava Bar in downtown Boston. Shortly thereafter I decided to “figure out” how to DJ and I too entered into the gay and lesbian scene as a DJ. It actually wasn’t until a few years into my DJ career that I met Kris. We have similar names and apparently people were getting us confused, Kristin Korpos, Kris Kono, yeah, I guess that could be easy to do!
Kris Kono’s visibility as a DJ in the Boston gay and lesbian community showed me that I could be a DJ too. I thank her for helping me become the DJ that I am today by showing me that it was possible to be a female DJ in a such a male-dominated profession. She paved the way for lesbian DJ’s in the Boston area, she helped create, with the promoters of course, a nightlife for the queer community. Kris Kono was an integral part of the Boston LGBT music scene because it was her music that brought people to the dance floor and kept the parties moving. Her spirit will always be a part of this community… Let the Music Play.”
– DJ Kristin Korpos
“What you need to know is that I have been playing music since 1980. I didn’t meet Kris until the mid to late 90s. She was a sister. Someone who finessed her way up the male dominated club industry ladder like myself with skills and an easy manner. But let me tell you, there was nothing easy about what she accomplished. It was hard work in an unkind environment where if you didn’t eat the bear, the bear would eat you. And that was the thing about Kris, she seemed to be able to maneuver the many obstacles without even ruffling the bear. She followed her muse. And her muse gently and safely guided her. Kris always seemed to exude an air of equanimity no matter what was going on. From my pointof view, it was this state of grace that made Kris special.”
Resident DJ & Vibe Manager
“Kris was always so sweet and willing to entertain my questions about DJing in Boston whenever I felt unsure. She was the barometer by which I measured my own success, and for that I will always be grateful. Kris, you will be missed.”
DJ D’hana Perry
“She taught me that confidence, diversity and attention to detail, opens doors to endless opportunities in life.”
-DJ Kelvin Sylvester
QWIMB would like to thank Kristen Porter for her assistance in assembling this memorium to DJ Kris Kono. We would also like to thank the local DJs who shared their personal thoughts.
Kris will be sorely missed, but not forgotten as we all continue forward on the road built by all those who came before.