Easter in the Park to go forward as scheduled despite rumors, but Pooch Parade still up in air

The Pooch Parade in Lee Park.

Despite rumors and after some behind-the-scenes negotiating, Easter in the Park will take place as usual on Easter Sunday, April 24.

The Turtle Creek Association, which has staged the event for years, decided to move some of the activities to the Sunday before Easter, April 17, for a family-friendly event. While some members of the LGBT community took that to mean gay-unfriendly, Keith Nix of TCA assured everyone that “family” means all families.

The April 17 event will include a DJ and an Easter egg roll for children.

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra will begin its season of free concerts in city parks with its Easter Sunday concert in Lee Park. According to Lee Park and Arlington Hall Conservancy President and CEO John Williams, that event has not changed. Vendors will be at the park selling food and drinks, and he encouraged everyone to come with their blankets for the annual picnic.

What is still not resolved is the Pooch Parade. The Turtle Creek Association was planning to move the Pooch Parade to the week before Easter, April 17. After an outcry from the LGBT community, the Cedar Springs Merchants Association met with the Conservancy last Friday.

On Monday, all of the groups involved met with Chris Heinbaugh in Dallas Mayor Dwaine Caraway’s office, about funding. The expense involved includes a required number of Dallas police to close Turtle Creek Boulevard and provide security. Cleanup also must be provided professionally, not with volunteers, by city ordinance.

More on Easter in the Park and the fate of the Pooch Parade in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  David Taffet

One thing Dallas did right last week … or two if you count the gay block Super Bowl block party

Cowboys Stadium

It’s not easy to find things Dallas did right in preparing for the Super Bowl.

An ESPN commentator said he didn’t think it was possible to find a worse host city than Jacksonville, but they did.

And the Australian press wrote scathing commentary about Dallas asking, “How’s a married man on a ‘business trip’ to the Super Bowl supposed to flaunt his trophy girlfriend — be she rented or otherwise — when she’s being forced to wear so many clothes?”

Today we learn that Jerry Jones sold 3,500 tickets for nonexistent seats, not the 1,200 as reported earlier. The NFL said they’re offering these fans tickets to next year’s game, although not the airfare to get there or cost of extra hotel nights.

Stupid things were planned like a series of outdoor concerts in February, including one that pandered to the lowest stereotypes and was marketed unsuccessfully to the LGBT community. Seriously. Has anyone ever gone to an outdoor concert in Dallas in February?

—  David Taffet

Gay Super Bowl block party called a success

Scott Whittall warms up the crowd at the Super Street Party.

Maybe the gays in Dallas are capable of pulling off a Super Bowl party after all.

Although a gay-themed concert planned for the Cotton Bowl on Thursday night was canceled due to poor ticket sales, organizers of Saturday night’s block party on Cedar Springs are deeming it a success. (To view a slideshow from the party, go here.)

Scott Whittall, president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said while the closed-down street itself wasn’t overly crowded during the event, the clubs were extremely busy and some were at capacity.

“The turnout was huge, but it’s hard for us to get a head count because everybody kept running in and out of the clubs to get warm,” Whittall said, adding that attendance was definitely in the thousands. “I think if they all would have been able to stay outside, I think we would have seen a street full of people. There was no question they were down here, they were just in an out all night long. They were flooding through those gates.”

Whittall said organizers of the Super Street Party — billed as the world’s first-ever gay Super Bowl block party — were “freaking out” on Thursday and Friday because they weren’t sure if the weather would clear.

“They had altered the forecast I don’t know how many times for Saturday,” he said. “We didn’t know what to expect, especially with all that snow and ice on the ground Friday. But it all worked out. I don’t even think there was a patch of ice left on Cedar Springs. Everything was set up in time. It went off great.

“We’re definitely deeming it a success, especially compared to a lot of the party debacles that were out there last week in the straight community. I heard that a lot of the parties around town were not well attended,” Whittall said. “We had the luxury of the fact that we have a ton of huge clubs around us where people can go and get warm. There was always a pretty good crowd around the stage. In a warmer weather situation, we will definitely set the street up like that again.”

—  John Wright

Local Briefs

Razzle Dazzle Dallas announces launch of new event website

Organizers of the newly revived Razzle Dazzle Dallas have announced the launch of a new RDD website, where interested individuals can keep up with the latest news on the event, set for June 1-5, and register to become RDD volunteers or corporate sponsors.

The 2011 Razzle Dazzle Dallas will benefit eight local LGBT or HIV/AIDS organizations: Youth First Texas, Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Interfaith Network, Cedar Springs Merchants Association Beautification Fund, Legacy Counseling/Founders Cottage, Lone Star Ride and Dallas Legal Hospice.

The new website is at RazzleDazzleDallas.org. For more information, e-mail info@razzledazzledallas.org or call 214-450-8238.

Oak Cliff UU Church holding special ‘It Gets Better’ service, video filming

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff will present a special service Sunday, Feb. 13, at 10 a.m. in honor of the “It Gets Better” Project, started in response to the suicides of LGBT teens who had been bullied and harassed, and all those who stand against hatred and intolerance.

After the services on both Feb. 13 and Feb. 20, the church invites the community to share “It Gets Better” stories, which will be recorded, edited and posted online.

Go online to ItGetsBetter.org for information on the It Gets Better Project, and to OakCliffUU.org for information on and directions to the church. Interested individuals can also call Jan Brubaker at 214-907-9812 for information.

Bloomin’ Ball Launch Party set for Feb. 16 in private home

The 2011 Bloomin’ Ball Launch Party will be held Wednesday, Feb. 16 at a private home. The $10 suggested donation at the door includes complimentary light hors d’oeuvres, wine and valet parking.

The annual Bloomin’ Ball benefits AIDS Interfaith Network. For more information or to RSVP, contact Gretchen G. Kelly at 214-943-4444.

Researcher at UNT looking for participants for relationship study

The Center for Psychosocial Health Research from the University of North Texas is conducting a study of health and conflict within the LGBT population and is looking for LGBT individuals over 18 and fluent in English who have experienced conflict in a same-sex relationship.

Those who complete the survey will receive $20. For information on participating, email cphprojectheart@gmail.com or call 940-891-6844.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

Cedar Springs street party to proceed as scheduled

Country singer Chaz Marie, left, and Compete Magazine Athlete of the Year Michael Holtz

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Weather and other factors have affected a number of Super Bowl-related events originally set for this week. But despite the area’s winter weather woes, crowds are still expected to turn out for the Cedar Springs Merchants Association’s Super Street Party Saturday night on Cedar Springs.

Forecasts predict that the week’s record-setting low temperatures should give way to a more moderate seasonal chill by then, and organizers predict that the excitement of the event will be enough to keep party-goers warm — not to mention the chance for some prime celebrity-spotting.

The merchants association has received calls from a number of celebrities and athletes — gay and straight — who will be in town for the big event, all asking for details on the Super Street Party. Why? Because the straight celebs assume that in a straight-laced town like Dallas, it’s the gays who know how to party.

Those requests for information have come from celebrities said to be staying at The Melrose and other hotels in the Oak Lawn area.

Cedar Springs Road will close at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, and the party begins at 7 p.m. Admission is free. In case it gets cold, the bars will all be open with most offering specials.

Buli promises hot chocolate and will stay open until at least 1 a.m. Hunky’s and Subway will remain open until 3 a.m., with Subway offering its Fabulous Foot-long as a Super Bowl special. Zini’s plans to operate until at least 4 a.m. and Café Brazil is open 24 hours.

The Bud Light Main Stage will be set up in the middle of Cedar Springs, with Chaz Marie as the featured entertainer. Guest DJs will provide music on the street throughout the evening.

Compete Magazine’s Gay Athlete of the Year Michael Holtz will be the MC.

Woody’s Sports and Video Bar will hold a meet-and-greet with Holtz on Friday, Feb. 4 at 9 p.m. and he will attend a brunch at Dish on Sunday at 11 a.m.

Beer booths will be set up on the street, staffed by some of the local gay sports groups raising money for their teams.

Other Super Bowl week events haven’t fared as well.

A gay-themed concert originally planned for Thursday night was cancelled, even before bad weather hit, because of poor ticket sales. The tent in the Cotton Bowl that was to house that and other concert events collapsed under the weight of the ice and snow, and the concerts were moved to the Fair Park Coliseum.

Dallas had hoped to show off many of its venues to visitors through the week but the ice that arrived early on Tuesday morning delayed the arrival of many visitors when both airports closed. The storm also caused the closing of the downtown museums for two days, as well as a number of other facilities around the area.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

Weekly Best Bets

Friday 02.04

She’ll give you ‘Hot Pleasure’
With five number one dance hits, Erika Jayne is nicely establishing herself as a singer to be reckoned with. She’s even knocked off big hitters like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga from the top spot of Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play charts. Her most recent single “One Hot Pleasure” is her fifth consecutive hit. Yeah, she’s pretty much bringing it.

DEETS: Rose Room, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. Midnight. $7. PartyAtTheBlock.com.

Saturday 02.05

As gay as the Super Bowl can get
Are you ready for some football? OK, what about a big Cedar Springs Super Street Party? Showing that the LGBT community has an affinity for both, the Cedar Springs Merchants Association put together what may be the first gay Super Bowl celebration ever. Live music, DJs, food, beer and an appearance by gay athlete of the year Michael Holtz round out the shebang.

DEETS: Cedar Springs and Throckmorton roads. 7 p.m. Free. ShopCedarSprings.com.

Wednesday 02.09

Payback really is a bitch
New company Broken Gears Project Theatre presents August Strindberg’s Creditors about three people who play diabolical and manipulative games with each other.And it all sounds delicious, especially when Rene Moreno is directing.

DEETS: 3819 Fairmount St. 8 p.m. Through Feb. 26. $10-$15. BrokenGearsTheatre.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

Razzle Dazzle Dallas now has a website

Razzle Dazzle Dallas, the LGBT event held annually for 26 years through 2003, is returning after an eight-year absence the first week of June.

This week organizers launched a website, RazzleDazzleDallas.org, and announced sponsors and beneficiaries.

The presenting sponsor for the event is Bud Light. Other sponsors include ilume, the Warwick Melrose Hotel and Dallas Voice.

Razzle Dazzle was always a fundraising event, and organizers have named eight beneficiaries this year — Youth First Texas, Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Interfaith Network, the Cedar Springs Merchants Association Beautification Fund, Legacy Counseling/Founders Cottage, Lone Star Ride and Legal Hospice of Texas.

Rather than just a one-night party, Razzle Dazzle will be a five-day event beginning June 1 with a wine and dog walk sponsored by the Cedar Springs Merchants Association.

On Thursday, June 2, a “Pub Crawl” will travel by shuttle buses to participating Dallas-area nightclubs.

MetroBall at Station 4 on Friday, June 3 will be an evening of dancing, raffles and fundraising, as well as entertainment.

During the day of Saturday, June 4 the Cedar Springs Merchants Association will host a street fair and sale.  The main event, the Razzle Dazzle Dallas street party, will fill Cedar Springs that night.

Razzle Dazzle wraps up on Sunday, June 5 with closing parties at participating Oak Lawn nightclubs.

For updates, follow Razzle Dazzle Dallas on Facebook and Twitter.

—  David Taffet

First look: Gay Super Bowl block party poster

It may not be the most original idea, but we’re kinda likin’ the rainbow-colored Bud Light football in the poster above — promoting the world’s first-ever gay Super Bowl block party.

Also, it looks like the Cedar Springs Merchants Association has booked Chaz Marie, a country artist from North Texas who, among other things, had a top 20 hit a few years back with “Real Bad Mood” (below).

—  John Wright

Razzle Dazzle a done deal for 2011

Pub crawls, a street festival, an AIDS fundraiser, party buses, more will be part of weeklong party

DAVID TAFFET  |  taffet@dallasvoice.com

Razzle-DazzleThe return of Razzle Dazzle Dallas means North Texas will have a June Pride celebration. The five-day event begins June 1.
Scott Whittall, president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said the June 1-5 dates were chosen, in part, to not conflict with Pride weekends in Austin and Houston.

The event begins on a Wednesday with a special edition of the Cedar Springs Wine Walk.

Thursday, June 2, will feature a pub-crawl. Shuttles and party buses will leave from Cedar Springs Road to visit different bars off the strip. The Brick and BJ’s have already committed to participate. Other bars are expected to join as planning continues through the spring.

Each stop will be about 45 minutes and feature specials and a VIP area for those who purchase special tickets for the week.

“The purpose is to introduce people to the bars off the Cedar Springs strip,” Whittall said.

The fifth annual Metro Ball held at S4 will become part of Razzle Dazzle Dallas as the Friday event. The fundraiser is staged by and benefits the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund, which works with nine area agencies as a funding source of last resort to help individuals with emergency situations.

Tickets are expected to be $25 on line and $35 at the door. Crystal Waters headlined last year’s ball that raised $37,000. In 2011, the evening will include a silent auction and dance party.

Representatives of GDMAF, Inc., which stages Metro Ball, attended the first Razzle Dazzle organizational meeting to make sure there were no conflicts in dates.

“I expressed my concern to the committee,” said GDMAF President John Cooper-Lara. “But it made more sense to focus Metro Ball as the primary fundraiser for the weekend.”

By the end of the meeting, not only had Metro Ball become one of week’s signature events, but also Cooper-Lara signed on as co-chair of Razzle Dazzle Dallas.

“We’re excited to be part of a week-long celebration,” he said, hoping the community-wide effort will raise even more money for GDMAF this year.

When Metro Ball ends at 10 p.m., an after-party will be held at a different venue.

Saturday begins with a street festival — from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — that will highlight the Cedar Springs merchants.

whittall.scott
Scott Whittall

Participating stores will have sale tents. Booths for artists and non-profits will be part of the day’s activities.

The main event will be Saturday night from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Cedar Springs will close from Reagan to Knight streets. Whittall said they were exploring closing even more of the street.

A main stage near Reagan Street will feature a national headliner and a variety of bands and entertainment. A stage near ilume will present a national DJ. A third stage in the middle of the block will also have a DJ keeping the party lively.

A sponsored VIP tent near Hunky’s will include a free cocktail of the evening and food provided by two area restaurants.

Sunday ends the five-day festival with a mini pub-crawl, afternoon t-dance and check presentations.

Whittall said the group plans to work with the Dallas Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and promote Razzle Dazzle nationally.

When Razzle Dazzle Dallas last took place in 2003, it was billed as the 26th annual event. That dates the first one to 1978.

Don Maison, who served on the board from about 1985-90, said he remembered it beginning as fundraiser for the Dallas Museum of Art. At the time, the museum was located in Fair Park and had just announced a new building downtown.

As AIDS took hold in Dallas in the early 1980s, Razzle Dazzle quickly changed its focus to raising funds for the first North Texas AIDS organizations, such as Oak Lawn Community Services that closed in 2000, and the AIDS Resource Center, now known as Resource Center Dallas.  One year in the 1980s Razzle Dazzle was held at the old Dallas auto pound on Inwood Road where a UT Southwestern building now stands. Searchlights directed people to the abandoned facility.

Maison recalled having to repair the roof of the shed and call Dallas Power & Light to run more electricity into the site.

Fair Park was a frequent site of the event. In different years it was held in the Hall of State, Tower Building and Centennial Building.

Maison said the year Razzle Dazzle was held downtown in the Convention Center was costly. Market Center Hall and an abandoned building in the West End and the Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum were other venues before Razzle Dazzle moved to Cedar Springs Road in the 1990s.

In its last year, Razzle Dazzle featured the Village People who performed on an outdoor stage in Caven’s paid parking lot. Although the street was blocked off, many people entered without paying. The event lost money and Razzle Dazzle Dallas disbanded.

This year’s event should be well funded as it combines resources from a number of groups. Whittall said Ben E. Keith has already signed to be the presenting sponsor and other businesses including ilume and the Melrose Hotel have already agreed to be sponsors.

The new website will be live in January.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Holiday kick-off

LIGHTING THE WAY  | The DFW Sisters perform a ceremonial lighting of the Christmas Tree on the patio of TMC during the Cedar Springs Merchants Association’s First Wednesday celebration on Wednesday, Dec. 1. The event marked the third year in which businesses in the gayborhood have welcomed the holidays with a First Wednesday party. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

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

—  Michael Stephens