Diablos win their HellFest tourney — and praise from other teams

The first time the Dallas Diablos Rugby Football Club held HellFest, a tournament where they invited other IGRAB member clubs to play in Texas over Halloween, one team showed up.  But they did it again anyway.

And boy did they do it right. Eight teams, represented players from nine clubs, descended on Dallas last weekend for a round-robin tourney, and by the time it was over, there were nine hospital visits, countless bruises and black-eyes … and nothing but nice things to say from all the players.

The tournament itself was an all-day affair on Saturday, with games beginning around 9:15 a.m. and continuing until after 5 p.m. In the final: The Diablos’ home field advantage lifted them over the Minneapolis Mayhem for a 12–0 victory. Bragging rights, but not arrogance. During the after-party at the Dallas Eagle, players from Atlanta to L.A. praised the organization of the event. “The best I’ve ever attended, gay or straight,” one Air Force enlistee told me. They were all impressed by the clockwork play, the officiating and the after-game buffet, and had nice things to say about Dallas (the men and the city — and the block party).

It seems certain it’ll take place again next year. And next time, they’ll plan for even more teams.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best bets • 10.29.10

Saturday 10.30

Masking your feelings is just fine
We’ve been trying to figure what this year’s number one costume will be. Lady Gaga has provided much inspiration throughout the year, so expect a few meat dresses in the crowd. The Chilean miners were a hot topic and easy to pull off. And lest we forget a good ole Texas Rangers costume. You’ll likely see all three and a whole heckuva lot more at this year’s Oak Lawn Halloween street party.

3900 block of Cedar Springs. 7 p.m. Free.


Saturday 10.30

Rugby tourney will drag you to hell
The Dallas Diablos are making a mark on the rugby tournament scene this weekend. The team holds their second Hellfest event, but this year it’s big time. Word of mouth grew on this and the Diablos are expecting to host 160 players repping eight teams from around the country. And that’s all in one day.

DEETS: Lake Highlands Park, 9500 E. Lake Highlands Drive. 9 a.m. Free. DallasDiablos.org.


Wednesday 11.03

Don’t lose your head, lady
We all know what happened to Anne Boleyn and it wasn’t pretty. But we bet getting there should be lush and gorgeous in the Dallas Opera’s production of Anna Bolena. Gaetano Donizetti details the queen’s last days who went from beloved wife to second best thanks to that mistress Jane Seymour. Bitch.

DEETS: Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. 7:30 p.m. Through Nov. 14. $25–$215. ATTPAC.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Day of the living DIABLOS

Dallas gay rugby team wants you to go to Hell(fest)

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

GHOUL!  | Diablos Nick Hughes, Stephen Mitchell, Dustin  Abercrombie, Ryan Cavender, Will Padilla and A.J. Tello expect HellFest to be a scary fun time. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)
GHOUL! | Diablos Nick Hughes, Stephen Mitchell, Dustin Abercrombie, Ryan Cavender, Will Padilla and A.J. Tello expect HellFest to be a scary fun time. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Every tournament has its hook, but for the Dallas Diablos Rugby Football Team, that hook comes at the end of a bloody stump.
Or maybe a fairy princess or Sarah Palin impersonator. Point is, it’s Halloween.

The Diablos didn’t really expect HellFest, their one-day rugby tourney to be held Oct. 30, to be such a hit, even though they knew they had a good idea.

“Originally, what we wanted was to have two or three teams come down, play some games, hang out for the [Cedar Springs] block party,” says Will Padilla, team captain and one of the organizers of HellFest. “We said, ‘Let’s try it out and see if we can get people interested in coming.’”

The interest was there and it grew exponentially. The previous year, an attempt to attract gay rugby teams from around the country resulted in only one attendee: the Minneapolis Mayhem. But word of mouth spread, “and more people asked to come, then more and more,” says Padilla. “I eventually had to cap it because it’s only a one-day tournament and we wanted everyone to get to play.”

Right now, 160 players representing eight teams from as many cities as far away as Atlanta are set to descend on Dallas for what looks to be one of the bigger gay rugby matches going.

“Austin, Houston and Dallas used to compete for a trophy called the Texas Pride Cup,” says Diablos co-founder and president A.J. Tello. But the Houston and Austin teams folded in recent years. “We haven’t had anything like that for a while, other than in Seattle, which has several teams in the area, and Bingham Cup every other year. We’re trying to get that back with an invitational with a national reach.”

“What I’ve found is that the majority of people on these teams have never been to Dallas,” adds Padilla. “Lots of them want to see what nightlife is like in Dallas.”

It’s an astonishing sense of camaraderie for a sport known for its aggressive play. But Padilla says rugby is one of the few sports where teams have no problem socializing with each other after the match is over.

“You play hard to party hard. Everybody who comes out is hyper-competitive and wants to win, but afterwards, we’re here to promote the game. You leave the anger on the pitch. After, you talk war stories and live it up with the guys. A lot of sports you don’t get a lot of commingling of teams; that’s not the case with rugby — not all.”

The openness is also true of the membership. “All of the teams are part of the IGRAB, the gay rugby union, and each is classified as openly diverse, but none of them are strictly gay,” Padilla says.

“We’re all inclusive. It’s not about who’s gay or straight — unless you want to date,” says Tello, who notes the Diablos have several straight players.

Still, that doesn’t mean there’s no difference between a gay rugby team and a straight one.

“We play other [non-gay] rugby clubs. After games, we go to the straight bars and the straight guys come to the Eagle,” Tello says. “We bring a little kick to it: We ask one of the members from the other team to get on the St Andrews cross, we get some paddles out and a whip and ask one of their girlfriends or wives to whip them. They have a ball and laugh.”

The tournament is intended to allow the players to enjoy a competitive round-robin of rugby, but there’s more motivation behind it. The Diablos  — both the men’s and women’s teams — want to spread their passion for the game throughout the community. (Although the women’s team is not playing, they have been instrumental in planning the tourney and will be active running it on game day.)

“I’ll judge its success by how well the teams receive the tournament, but we also wanna pull people in the community here, to come out to watch a tournament,” says Padilla. “There’s been nothing like this for rugby in Dallas.”

Those who don’t play are still welcome to come watch or even buy a “participant package” including tote bag and T-shirt, and come by the mixers or meet up with them during the block party.

Whether HellFest continues next year may also depend on the satisfaction of their sponsors, though Padilla says many were enthusiastic about helping out.

“It hasn’t been very hard — we’re promoting deeply within the community,” he says. “The host hotel is Hawthorne Suites and they gave us a good rate and helped us acquire shuttles to go to the venues. The Dallas Eagle is hosting our happy hour after the tournament and MGD64 is donating beer.”

That sounds like a sporting event all ghouls and boils can enjoy.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 22, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Dallas Gay Pride Weekend is here

We’ve been posting these updates all week, trying to get through to you that even though the parade and festival aren’t until Sunday, Dallas Pride had already begun. Well, the truth is, we were lying through our teeth. It really starts today. It must because there’s even a Welcome Party at the Round-Up where you can help provide a diplomatic welcome for our out-of-town visitors, if you know what we mean. Anyhow, here’s Friday’s full schedule of Pride-sanctioned events from the Dallas Tavern Guild:

Welcome Party for Our Out-Of-Town Guests
Round-Up Saloon
Join us in welcoming our visiting guests from all across the country as they gather to celebrate Dallas Pride.
8:00 pm
3912 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75219

Sports Pride Mixer
Dallas Woody’s
Ever wanted to play in an LGBT sports league or team? Here’s your meet fellow athletes, captains and organizers from DIVA [Volleyball], PSSA [Softball], OLTA [Tennis], OLBA [Bowling], Texas Bulls [Flag Football], Dallas Diablos [Rugby] and Different Strokes [Golf]. Not only is this mixer informational its a chance to socialize, relax and meet old and new friends.
7pm -10pm – No Cover
4011 Cedar Springs
Dallas, Texas 75219

Live on the Back Patio Returns!
Dallas Woody’s
That’s right as Fall heats up but the temperature cools down live music returns to the Woody’s Back Patio for a fall concert series featuring Oaklawns best Jazz, R&B, Pop, Folk, Country and Cabaret entertainment. Check www.dallaswoodys.com for the current performer listing.
8pm -11pm – No Cover.
4011 Cedar Springs
Dallas, Texas 75219

Hip Hop “Pride-ay”
Midnight Show with Comedian PT
2525 Wycliff
Dallas, Texas 75219

SMOKE: A Cigar Party
Dallas Eagle
10:00 pm
5740 Maple Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75235

Amatuer strip contest with $100 in cash & prizes starting at midnight (12am)
Drink Specials – $2 wells / $2 domestic from 9pm – 11pm
No cover 9pm – 11pm
4350 Maple Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75219

Gay Pride Trash Disco – “Shake Your Groove Thing”
3903 Cedar Springs
Dallas, Texas 75219

Special Strip Show – Wet Boxers starting at midnight (12am)
Drink Specials – $2 wells / $2 domestic from 9pm – 11pm
No cover
4207 Maple Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75219

Slacks to Suits Pool Party
Radisson Love Field Hotel
Kick off your Pride weekend with an after work pool party. Drink specials and complimentary hors d’oeuveres served poolside. Entertainment by your hostess Jenna Skyy and friends.
6:00 pm until ??
1241 W. Mockingbird Lane
Dallas, Texas 75247

ArtNite @ ILUME Gallerie
The Ilume Gallerie
The event will showcase a collection from artists the past year in the gallery from fine art, photography, and introduce the large scale metal sculptural works of Ric Leichliter. The event benfits AIDSARMS Inc. Dallas The Ilume GALLERIE, Ilume Great Room, Champagne Room, and pool and cabana area will be open for the reception. We will be serving Cocktails. Complimentary valet parking in the front of the gallery is provided. There is no charge, but donations are accepted.
7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
4123 Cedar Springs Suite 107
Dallas, TX 75219

—  John Wright

Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas comes out

Saturday  the Guardian reported Cardiff Blues player Gareth Thomas officially came out of the closet and is the first professional player to do so while still active. It was a decision based on both emotional turmoil and good will. “It’s been really tough for me, hiding who I really am and I don’t want it to be like that for the next young person who wants to play rugby or some frightened young kid,” he said.

His ex-wife talked about Thomas with the Daily Mail.

I asked Jonn Thurman, the outgoing captain of the Dallas Diablos (our very own gay rugby team), his thoughts and he had this to say.

“Good for him. I was surprised what he went through while he was hiding his sexuality. It is reassuring to see he and his ex have remained friends. Unfortunately, like several others in the sporting world, they feel they have to hide their true selves and become “one of the boys”. Having to hide yourself for fear of retaliation or loss of being able to play a sport that you love is a huge burden to bear and far too common in the world of sports. Thankfully with the increasing numbers of prominently gay, but inclusive clubs, such as the Dallas Diablos and other rugby clubs from all over the world, we can come together and play the sport so many of us have grown to love. If only professional sports clubs can catch up and see the stigma against gay sports players in nothing to fear. Gay or not, we are all ‘just one of the boys.'”

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—  Rich Lopez