WATCH: Big Freedia at The Loft on Saturday

Walking into The Loft at a little after 11 p.m., I was stunned how empty the place was. With the DJ at full throttle onstage playing some nice high-energy hip-hop, I had high hopes that Big Freedia had more of a following outside New Orleans. The crowd dug the DJ and bounced to the tunes and it was pretty much just a night at a dance club. Before Freedia was about to go on, the place began to fill up. Although I’m not sure all were totally Freedia fans, it was definitely a hip-hop crowd.

The gay contingent was hard to decipher. I loved how JW Richard of the new Groove Loves Melody music blog described some of the hard-to-read peeps as “undercover candy.” So true. But otherwise, a mixture of gay and straight, white, black, Latino, old and young — although definitely more young.

With just a handful of songs, Freedia threw down one pretty sweet party. Despite the fans being outnumbered by non-fans (because fans knew the words and responses),  his music is infectious and the crowd didn’t care about his frankness of being the Queen Diva of Bounce (they applauded, actually) among other things. Freedia had energy to spare and worked his dancehall calls to no end. But really, I learned a Freedia show is about that ass shaking and when the boys were besting the girls up there, it was a sight to behold. Some of the straight peeps had the “what the hell?” look, while everyone just went with the party flow and whooped and hollered.

It’s funny, because there wasn’t anything overly spectacular about the show. Freedia showed up, rapped, dance and that was it. But it was him and his music’s pumped up vibe that just flung its energy across the small venue and everyone caught it. I would dare to say that he probably won a few new fans that night who, like me, had no idea what to expect.

Here’s a glimpse of the show.

—  Rich Lopez

Thankfully someone took it upon themselves to declare Gay Day at the State Fair — Oct. 9

Big Tex loves his gays.

Last year, people were asking us about gay day at the State Fair, but we were as much in the dark. When Big Tex started rolling around this year, we were bracing ourselves for the inquiries. And then Facebook saved the day — or rather, Mike Weaver did.

Weaver, who hails from Watauga, started the Gay Day at the State Fair Facebook event to begin getting a consensus on when it should be. Of course, one date wasn’t going to make everyone happy, but he made the final decision to say that Saturday, Oct. 9 is the day. I say it’s not such a bad day to pick. It doesn’t compete with LifeWalk on Sunday and is two days shy of National Coming Out Day on Monday. He proposes that LGBT peeps wear colors of the rainbow and meet at noon at Big Tex.

Although he didn’t make it out last year, Weaver wanted to be part of the community coming together. “We can show people who are GLBT that it is OK to step out of the box and be with your fellow GLBTs and supporters. Maybe this could be a day for people who stay in because there scared to get them to come have fun.”

I’m there. That is if I can break away from the just close-enough Belgian waffle stand.

—  Rich Lopez

PD offers tips on staying safe as crowds come to Oak Lawn for Pride

Shooting, recent uptick in muggings raise concerns in the gayborhood

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

LGBT Liaison Officer Laura Martin
LGBT Liaison Officer Laura Martin

Pride weekend is expected bring huge crowds to the Oak Lawn area. But will the extra crowds translate into safety in numbers, or will it offer more chances for random attacks?
Dallas Police Officer Laura Martin, the department’s LGBT liaison, said that there would be at least 40 off-duty officers patrolling during the parade and festival in Lee Park.

Depending upon the size of the crowd, additional on-duty officers will also be in the area.

Martin said that any time crime is reported in an area, patrols are stepped up. But that doesn’t mean that officers will be found on every corner, and she warned anyone coming to Oak Lawn to take safety precautions.

“Parking in well lit areas makes a difference,” she said. “Don’t walk alone. Be aware of your surroundings.”

She said to be aware of groups of people that look they might be up to no good.

“Don’t be afraid to offend them,” she said, advising that people turn around or cross the street.

Because of the number of people who will be in Oak Lawn, Martin said that parking will be a problem. Available parking may be farther from the bars than usual. And she warned visitors to the area not to park illegally or in lots marked for towing.

“A lot of cars will be towed this weekend,” Martin said.

She suggested that people who are staying to go to the bars or restaurants on Cedar Springs after the parade and festival in Lee Park either move cars closer early in the evening as the crowds thin or take a cab back to their car later at night.

Martin also suggested that visitors “avoid ATMs in the area where you’re going to be.” She suggested going to the ATM near home or stopping off for cash the day before, and said visitors to the area shouldn’t carry too much cash with them.

A robbery in Oak Lawn last week involved someone who was carrying cash that he had not gotten to deposit in the bank.

On Sept. 10, a 21-year-old man was held up at gunpoint at as he was retrieving keys from a friend’s car on Dickason Avenue, one block from the bars on Cedar Springs Road.

Two Latin males in their 20s demanded money and property and got away with $500 in cash and a cell phone valued at $500. The incident happened at 10:15 p.m. The victim, who asked not to be identified, was not injured.

Several other incidents have occurred in the area over the past month.

On Aug. 30, Oak Lawn resident Doug Tull was shot in a robbery on Brown Street just a couple of blocks from his apartment. After two emergency surgeries, he was scheduled to be released from Parkland Hospital on Thursday, Sept. 16.

On Aug. 19, Kellen Sullivan was at Uncle Julio’s on Lemmon celebrating a friend’s birthday when he stepped outside to smoke. He was standing about 10 feet from the entrance when he was assaulted. Although Sullivan willingly gave the mugger his wallet, the man still hit him in the face with his pistol and ran.

“My nose was a complete bloody mess,” said Sullivan. “I had a gash on the side of my eye.”

He said that his has three scars from the attack and left the side of his eye is misshapen.

Two witnesses saw the attack. One said that he saw the suspect take the wallet and run through an alley toward Wycliff Avenue. He and another witness followed the suspect down the alley and reported to police that he jumped into a waiting gold Chevrolet Cavalier parked at an apartment complex off Wycliff Avenue.

The suspects drove off with their lights off, and the witnesses were unable to get the license plate number in the dark.

Allison said Sullivan came back into the restaurant with two black eyes and a cut on his cheek. Dallas Fire-Rescue treated him at the scene.

Violent crime is down in the city of Dallas by 7.3 percent for the year. The biggest decrease is in the murder rate. Rape is the only category that shows an increase.

Aggravated assaults are down, but only by less than 1 percent.

Overall crime is also down in the reporting district that includes the Cedar Springs entertainment area and surrounding neighborhoods, but reported street attacks on members of LGBT community appear to be on the increase.

Martin said that she would like to see increased reporting by witnesses. Although she said she hopes most people feel comfortable working with officers assigned to patrol the area, she said she is there for anyone who was not.

Martin said she understands concerns of people who are not out, have employment concerns or are married and she can take witness information confidentially. She can be reached at a non-police department e-mail at police@rcdallas.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Drag Queen Crowd Surfs to Xtina

RHEA LITRE X390Drag queen Rhea Litre helped to ring in Southern Decadence right — by crowd surfing to Christina Aguilera.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

VOP winners shine in Manchester

Arizpe, Carrizales wow crowd with performance on final day of 10-day Pride celebration in England

Ed Walsh  |  Special Contributor edwalsh94105@yahoo.com

Mel Arizpe and Laura Carrizales
TALENT ABROAD | Mel Arizpe, right, winner of the 2010 Voice of Pride competition, sings a duet with her partner — and VOP first runner-up — Laura Carrizales during their appearance at the Manchester Pride celebration on Monday, Aug. 30. (Photo courtesy MRNY.com)

MANCHESTER,  England — A couple from Dallas brought a bit of Texas to England this week and stole the show on the final day of Manchester Pride 2010, the city’s 10-day Pride celebration.
Mel Arizpe and Laura Carrizales were the winners of Dallas’s Voice of Pride, an annual contest sponsored by the Dallas Tavern Guild. Arizpe came in first place, winning a trip for two to Manchester and $3,000.

As luck would have it, Arizipe’s girlfriend, Laura Carrizales, won second place in the contest.

So naturally, Arizipe took Carrizales for the trip to the UK.

The couple, performing as “La Diva Loca,” also won the Voice of Pride’s duo category.

All those talents were put to good use at Manchester Pride 2010 on Monday, Aug. 30. The couple took to the stage at 2:40 p.m. and performed for a short 10 minutes — but they enthralled the crowd for each second.

Arizpe took to the stage first. “All the way from Dallas, we’ve come to sing to you all,” she told the British crowd in a Texas twang before launching into the  Whitney Houston hit “I’m Every Woman.”
The Brits roared their approval.

Carrizales joined Arizpe next on stage for their duet medley of four different songs: The Fugees “Ready or Not,” followed by En Vogue’s single “Never Gonna Get it,” and two different versions of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” — first the fast dance version, then the slower “Glee” version.

The Dallas couple made sure that their abbreviated version of “Poker Face” included the line, “I wanna hold ’em like they do in TEXAS please,” with a strong emphasis on “Texas.”

And the crowd was thrilled with the Gaga tribute, many dancing and singing along.

The medley, put together by their friend Danny Anchondo, was the same duet performance that helped them win the Voice of Pride group category.

Said Arizpe after the show, “I was happy they were responding. I think they really enjoyed the duet.”

Carrizales said they were concerned about the sound system, but in the end, she noted, it sounded great.

Mel Arizpe and Laura Carrizales
AFTERMATH | Laura Carrizales, left, and Mel Arizpe relax after performing onstage at Manchester Pride. (Ed Walsh/Special to Dallas Voice)

Arizpe and Carrizales appeared confident and relaxed on stage. They said that it helped that they were performing for strangers who they would never have to face again if they gave a bad performance. “It was a comfort that we didn’t know anybody,” said Carrizales.

The couple also said they were impressed by the scope of Manchester Pride: “It’s 10 times the size of Dallas,” said Carrizales. “They block off a whole section of the city [in Manchester].”

Added Arizpe, “We get a good turnout in Dallas but nothing like this.”

The idea to award Dallas’s Voice of Pride winner with a trip to Manchester was hatched by Andrew Stokes, who is both the chairman of Manchester Pride and the chief executive of the city’s official tourism office.

Stokes came up with the idea after visiting Dallas and visiting with his friend George Carrancho, who is part of American Airlines LGBT-dedicated “rainbow” sales team. Stokes watched part of the Voice of Pride competition while he was in town.

“I thought what a great thing it would be to bring the winner to Manchester,” Stokes said.

He worked out the trip with Carrancho and American Airlines, who helped sponsor the trip. Stokes and Carrancho introduced Arizpe and Carrizales before the couple’s performance.

So what’s it like for a couple of Texans in England?

Carrizales and Arizipe said they were welcomed warmly by the English and were given the VIP treatment during the four days they were in town. They were surprised that they were asked to march at the start of the parade, right behind the grand marshal, actor Sir Ian McKellan. That was an impressive honor considering that there were 101 contingents in the parade.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

More info on Saturday’s Prop 8 protest in Dallas

If you’re interested in helping out with Saturday’s Prop 8 protest in Dallas but couldn’t make last night’s organizational meeting, there’s plenty of contact info and volunteer opportunities after the jump.

—  John Wright