The five-day Razzle Dazzle Dallas revival began Wednesday, June 1, with a wine walk on Cedar Springs Road.
“I think last night went really well,” Chet Whisenant, owner of Subway at the Crossroads, said Thursday. “Foot traffic was way up. It was a great kickoff for Razzle Dazzle Dallas.”
Thom Dance, owner of the UPS Store on the other end of the strip said: “We had more people in our store than on any similar event. The street was alive.”
Skivvies owner David Richardson said: “Last night was great. For us, I haven’t seen that large a crowd for a wine walk event.”
Richardson, the former owner of TapeLenders and OutLines, has been a Cedar Springs merchant since the early 1980s. Several retailers said that although they stocked double the amount of wine they pour for other wine walks, they still ran out early.
Many people brought their dogs, and most retailers were allowing dogs into their stores throughout the evening.
Party express buses were scheduled to run Thursday night until 1 a.m. Friday, shuttling patrons to four clubs located off the main strip.
Metroball begins at 7 p.m. at Station 4 on Friday, June 3. Raffles and a silent auction as well as admission tickets benefit the Greg Dollinger Memorial AIDS Fund. Deborah Cox performs. VIP ticket holders are invited to a catered reception after the show to meet Cox.
On Saturday, the Cedar Springs Merchants Association will stage a sidewalk sale and classic car show during the day. More than 50 members of Classic Chassis Car Club plan to display their antique and classic cars along Cedar Springs Road.
Sale tents, food booths, an artist pavilion and activities will be set up along the sidewalk. The street will remain open to car traffic during the day.
The Main Event begins Saturday at 7 p.m. Cedar Springs Road will close to traffic at 4 p.m. to set up the stages and booths.
Sales from The Midway, community booths, art vendors and food and beer vendors all benefit Razzle Dazzle’s eight beneficiaries.
Jenna Skyy and Michael Doughman will host the live entertainment stage. Performers include Cazwell, Chaz Marie, Dallas Pride Cheer, Billy Halliday, The Bright, Uptown Players, the Gary Floyd Trio, Anton Shaw and Something Fabulous!!! On the dance stage near Cedar Springs Road and Knight Street, Dallas DJ Mickey Briggs will trade off with DJ Tim Pfleuger from Oz in New Orleans. BJ’s NXS will provide the go-go boys and girls.
For VIP ticket holders there will be two VIP-only areas. At the north area, Axiom and Dish will serve samplings. At the south area, Al Biernat and Doug Boster Catering will host a food tasting.
Free valet parking at ilume will be provided to VIP ticket holders on Saturday night.
Admission to the street party is free.
On Sunday, closing parties begin at TMC: The Mining Company with an afternoon tea dance.
The Mr. and Miss Razzle Dazzle Dallas contest takes pace at the Brick at 10 p.m.
Richardson said he was looking forward to the rest of the Razzle Dazzle weekend.
“It looks like we’re going to see a lot of new faces,” he said, “and a lot of people we haven’t seen around for awhile.”
He offered special recognition to Jimmy Bartlett, the Razzle Dazzle board member who first pulled the idea to revive the event together.
“I greatly appreciate Jimmy and all of his efforts to bring Razzle back,” Richardson said. “I think this is going to be a bigger and more exciting Razzle than any I remember.”
What’s better than a night of drinking? Well, a night of drinking with a designated driver. Razzle Dazzle continues tonight with the Jagermeister Oak Lawn Pub Crawl. Yeah, we know. You could argue the pub vs. bar thing all night, but skip the semantics and partake. Although a nice beer and bar food spot in these parts wouldn’t be a bad thing. Great, now we’re thirsty and hungry.
A party bus will shuttle partygoers to participating nightclubs off of Cedar Springs. Participants can travel from club to club in their own cars or park in one place and ride the party bus.
Four Oak Lawn bars will offer a variety of entertainment, contests, dancers and more. The party runs from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. and participating clubs include BJ’s NXS, Zippers, the Brick/Joe’s and Kaliente.
DEETS: At participating bars. 8 p.m. RazzleDazzleDallas.org.
Janean Watkins and Lakeesha Harris, who camped overnight, were the first couple to obtain their civil union license in Illinois.
Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:
1. President Barack Obama on Tuesday proclaimed June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, 2011. Unlike in 2009 and 2010, however, Obama’s LGBT Pride proclamation makes no reference to relationship recognition. Was this intentional or just an oversight? And if it was intentional, why? Perhaps because Obama is still thinking about whether he supports same-sex marriage. Read the full proclamation here.
2. Back in Obama’s home state, Illinois’ new civil unions law takes effect today, and more than 100 couples lined up this morning outside the Cook County Clerk’s Office in Chicago. Although couples can obtain their licenses today, they must wait 24 hours before holding a ceremony. Illinois is the sixth state to allow civil unions or the equivalent.
When organizers decided to revive Razzle Dazzle Dallas, they made the event bigger than it had ever been. And Scott Whittall, president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association said that the five-day event just keeps growing.
For example, after rain forced the postponement last weekend of a sidewalk sale and antique car show scheduled for Cedar Springs, the events were added to the Razzle Dazzle schedule.
Razzle Dazzle begins on Wednesday, June 1, with the Cedar Springs Wine Walk and Dog Walk. Participating merchants will serve free wine to anyone who has purchased a $5 wine glass. The Humane Society will set up pet stations along the street to make the event dog friendly.
Thursday, June 2, is the Jagermeister Oak Lawn Pub Crawl. A party bus will shuttle partygoers to participating nightclubs off of Cedar Springs. Participants can travel from club to club in their own cars or park in one place and ride the party bus.
Four Oak Lawn bars will offer a variety of entertainment, contests, dancers and more. The party runs from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. and participating clubs include BJ’s NXS, Zippers, the Brick/Joe’s and Kaliente.
Metro Ball begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 3, and is the weekend’s major AIDS fundraiser.
The party will be held at Station 4 until midnight and includes dancing, raffles, a silent auction and entertainment by Deborah Cox. Tickets are $25 in advance and available at GDMAF.org or at Skivvies or $30 at the door.
The event benefits the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund, which provides financial assistance to people with HIV and AIDS for critical needs when resources are exhausted through other local organizations.
Two additional events have been scheduled for VIP ticket holders. The Melrose Hotel will host a reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. featuring Pinnacle flavored vodkas.
The original founders of Razzle Dazzle Dallas will be honored at that reception.
The Round-Up Saloon will hold a late-night private party with hors d’ouevres on the upstairs deck for VIP ticket holders.
VIP tickets are $100 and include five days of free reserved parking at ilume, a $100 merchant coupon book for the Wednesday Wine Walk and more.
Each VIP ticket holder will be entered into a drawing to win dinner, a one-night stay at the Worthington Hotel in Fort Worth and tickets to the musical Chicago at Bass Hall.
Whittall said producers of the show contacted CSMA to offer the giveaway as a promotion for the tour coming because one of the songs in the musical is called Razzle Dazzle.
About 50 autos from Classic Chassis Car Club will be parked along Cedar Springs Road on Saturday until 4 p.m. for an antique and classic car show. Many of the street’s merchants will be offering discounts during the day at a sidewalk sale.
The street closes to vehicular traffic at 4 p.m. for the main event that begins at 7 p.m.
Cazwell will appear on the main stage with Cheer Dallas, Billy Halliday, The Bright, Uptown Players, Chaz Marie, the Gary Floyd Trio, Anton Shaw and the drag-based performance group Something Fabulous!!!
A female impersonator stage will be set up on the deck at Woody’s Sports and Video Bar beginning at 10 p.m.
DJ/VJ Mickey Briggs of Dallas and the dance sounds of DJ Tim Pfleuger from OZ in New Orleans will alternate on a dance stage at Cedar Springs Road at Knight Street.
About 40 community groups will have booths with information and activities. A late addition to the Razzle Dazzle line up is a Midway with carnival games, dunking booths, a mechanical bull and an obstacle course.
Admission to the street is free but Whittall said that this is a fundraiser. Beer sales from booths will go toward the donation to charities. Midway sales and collections from participating vendors and organizations will benefit agencies.
A closing party and tea dance will be held at TMC: The Mining Company on Sunday, June 5. Miss and Mr. Razzle Dazzle Dallas will be crowned at the Brick on Sunday, with the contest beginning at 10 p.m.
Whittall said they are hoping to attract 20,000 to 30,000 people for the street party. He said the last time Razzle Dazzle was staged in 2003, an estimated 35,000 people attended.
The Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau has been promoting the week nationally.
Veronica Torres of the DCVB said, “We’re marketing Razzle Dazzle Dallas as a destination event.”
She said that they’ve been promoting weekend stays in Dallas through Facebook and Twitter and on their GLBT Dallas site. The DCVB featured the event at trade shows nationally including at a recent International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association convention.
Whittall said the event has been entirely underwritten so all proceeds will go to the beneficiaries — Youth First Texas, Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Interfaith Network, Cedar Springs Merchants Association Beautification Fund, AIDS Arms, Legacy Counseling/Founders Cottage, Lone Star Ride and Legal Hospice
They might not have realized it, but when organizers started planning the rebirth this year of Razzle Dazzle Dallas, they were taking the once-annual Gay Pride Month party back to its roots.
In its later years, Razzle Dazzle was a Cedar Springs street party intended to raise money for AIDS service organizations. But at the beginning, it was a party, intended to celebrate the gay community and the gay Pride. Any money left over that could be donated to a worthy cause, said original board members Dick Weaver and Stephen Arnn, was just icing on the cake.
“Several years into it, the idea of raising money became paramount, and candidly, it did bother some of us on the original board,” Weaver said this week. “It wasn’t that we weren’t charitable, and we sure didn’t want to keep the money ourselves. But in those early years, the goal was just to put on an event that the community could be proud of and have a really good time at.”
In fact, the idea of having a good time and being out and proudly gay was the whole impetus behind Razzle Dazzle in the first place, Arnn said.
Arnn said in 1979, he and Bill Nelson, Terry Tebedo, Michael Ray Blackstock and Tony Williams were members of what was then called the Dallas Gay Political Caucus where plans were underway to have a Gay Pride Month event that June in Dallas. And those plans included a candlelight march from Cedar Springs to Lee Park, where they would have speakers, prayer and maybe some poetry.
“It was to be a ‘quiet’ evening,” Arnn recalled. “I remember that Bill and I were both staggered that a Pride weekend was centered around a candlelight march, and I’ll never forget the image of the hysterical outrage Bill had, the faux confusion about what ‘Pride’ and ‘candlelight march’ had to do with one another. The four of us immediately wanted to change the aura of ‘Pride Weekend.’”
And so they decided to begin planning an “unofficial” Pride event, he said.
“All four of us agreed that showing Pride included being happy — more than sad, a victim of our station in society — and experiencing an incredible ‘bigger than life’ evening as a community together at a party — Bill loved that word — where we’d dance, have a blast, be outrageous and show the local world that we weren’t relegated to the Cedar Springs corridor,” Arnn said. “Razzle Dazzle was born that moment, and I think that the name was thrown out that very night, although it probably became solid once the larger group evolved.”
Once the decision was made, things started happening very fast. Weaver said he was quickly pulled into the original group of about 15 organizers — a group that, Arnn said, included Howie Daire, “someone who grew up in Tyler and came from a family with oil money and a guy named David who grew up in Amarillo and owned a restaurant on McKinney,” along with Frank Caven.
Weaver said, “They [the original group of four] came to me and several others and said, ‘Hey, let’s do something.’ Each of us put up, I think it was $100 at first and then later we decided to make it $150 each. “We weren’t incorporated or anything like that. We were just a bunch of guys having a party. Today, of that original 15 or so of us, only four of us are still alive. That’s kind of scary.”
The group reserved the Hall of State at Fair Park as the party site, and they knew they needed a way to promote the event and sell tickets, just to pay expenses. So Arnn came up with a logo, they had t-shirts made up and headed down to the Cedar Springs strip to sell tickets.
Arnn said that pre-event ticket sales went okay, nothing spectacular but enough that the organizers would at least break even on their investment.
“We knew we weren’t going to lose money, but we were concerned about there being enough people in the Hall to make it a crowd, to create the excitement we were after,” Arnn said. “As Dick pointed out, no one really knew what they were buying a ticket for. It was an unknown.”
And so the time came for the party, and organizers got Weaver to park his bright blue MG out in front of the hall, Arnn said, with balloons tied all over to give those arriving a signal as to where to go.
“There were assignments for everything,” Arnn said, including rotating assignments for organizers to be standing on the steps of the Hall, taking tickets or selling additional tickets.
“It was an unbelievable, amazing scene as throngs of people arrived on the shuttles, or walked from their cars — huge crowds!” Arnn said. “It was hard to keep up.
It was thrilling, and scary from the point of keeping the money relayed away from those selling tickets and put it in a safe place.”
Weaver added, “The front door was crazy. We were taking money hand over fist. We had no idea how many would show and could not believe how many did!”
Arnn continued, “We were mesmerized standing on those steps. The image of that, of knowing that this group of guys had, in fact, tapped into Gay Pride, is an image I’ll be able to see in my head forever.”
Weaver said one of his most vivid memories of that night is of “Bill Nelson throwing glitter all over people in pure celebration. We had quite a time of it trying to get that glitter up off the floor the next day. And you know, I was at the Hall of State a year or two later, and I swear I could still see some of that glitter on the floor!
“I guess my greatest memory of that night is just of people having such a ball. This was something unique and different, just a great opportunity for the whole community to get together and do something together that was about having fun and celebrating who we were,” Weaver said.
The party to celebrate Pride had exceeded everyone’s expectations, the men said. And while profits weren’t huge, there was money left over.
“I think we had about $1,200 left when it was all over. We didn’t want to keep it ourselves, and we were all in the DGPC, and so we decided to donate the money to them,” Weaver said.
That first Razzle Dazzle was so successful, that the organizers decided to do it again the next year, and then the next, and the next — and so on, right up until 2003. The group eventually incorporated, elected a board and officers.
They took the party all over the city, holding it in various buildings at Fair Park, in the West End before it was really even the West End, at Market Hall — even at the City Auto Pound one year.
But as years passed, the specter of AIDS began to grow over Dallas, and the celebratory atmosphere of Razzle Dazzle began to change. The LGBT community was at war, and even the annual Pride party had to be geared toward fighting the battle.
“I think, honestly, that it got away from itself toward the end. I’m not making any accusations here, but maybe the people involved then didn’t have that pure love of the event. They didn’t have that spirit of celebration,” Weaver said. “But I sure can’t say it died because it wasn’t needed.
“We did go through that period when AIDS overshadowed everything,” he continued. “It wasn’t that we quit celebrating, really, but it sure took on a different tone.”
He continued, “These 25-year-olds today don’t really understand that war. They don’t understand the ’80s and the ’90s when you were seeing your best friends dying all around you. I know we still have a lot of work today, on things like marriage and ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ a lot of issues. But we have a lot of good things going on too, a lot to celebrate.
“And I hope that’s what people will do, come out to Razzle Dazzle again and celebrate
Because of anticipated bad weather, the antique car show and sidewalk sale that was scheduled for Saturday on the Cedar Springs strip has been postponed.
According to Scott Whittall, president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, classic car owners are reluctant to exhibit their vehicles on the street in the rain. He noted that rain isn’t conducive to a sidewalk sale, either.
Both the sale and car show have been moved to June 4 and will become part of the revived Razzle Dazzle Dallas event that will be held on the street June 1-5. The car show is in conjunction with the Classic Chassis Car Club.
See next week’s Dallas Voice for complete Razzle Dazzle Dallas coverage.
The Razzle Dazzle Dallas committee needs 100 volunteers, organizers said this week.
“Planning and hosting [the] five-day festival for 35,000 people will take nearly 100 volunteers,” said John Cooper-Lara, co-chair for Razzle Dazzle Dallas.
The event — returning this year after an absence of several years — will be held June 1–5, beginning with a Wednesday evening wine walk on Cedar Springs Road. Thursday the event goes off the street with a party bus pub-crawl to clubs located off Cedar Springs Road.
Metro Ball at S4 on Friday night will raise money for AIDS agencies in North Texas.
Saturday’s events begin with a sidewalk sale and street fair on Cedar Springs Road. The evening is when the most volunteers will be needed. Three blocks will be fenced for a large street party.
Gate attendants, runners, stagehands, information booth workers and food service assistants are needed.
Volunteer co-coordinator Henry Ramirez said volunteers are also needed to help set up and tear down tents.
“They’ll be making sure people have ice where it’s needed, watching the entrances and making sure people aren’t walking out with alcohol,” Ramirez said. “Runners are needed from beer booths to the main booth.”
Ramirez said food will be catered for volunteers and he is scheduling extra people so there will be time for volunteers to take breaks and enjoy the event.
Setting up and tearing down the fence has been contracted out, as has trash clean up and garbage removal, he said. But volunteers will be needed for set-up and tear down of booths, stage and other equipment and displays along the street.
Ramirez said working at Razzle Dazzle that night would be a fun project for groups or organizations.
The beneficiaries of Razzle Dazzle Dallas are AIDS Arms, AIDS Interfaith Network, Cedar Springs Merchants Association Beautification Fund, Legacy Counseling Center and Founders Cottage, Legal Hospice of Texas, Lone Star Ride, Resource Center Dallas and Youth First Texas.
To volunteer, sign up on the RazzleDazzleDallas.org website or email co-volunteer coordinators Ramirez or Travis Gasper at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.