It’s New Year’s Eve: Party on and party safely

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Are you still trying to decide where to go for New Year’s Eve? Here are a few options on where to go to bring 2015 in with a bang — and a couple of reminders to play it safe and keep the weather in mind and the drinking under control. This is a “no refusal” weekend for most area law enforcement agencies, and you don’t wanna start the year off with a trip to the pokey.

Wanna know where to go and what to do for New Year’s Eve? Here are just a few ideas:

The Round-Up Saloon’s New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball. Includes a catered buffet, breakfast after midnight, a cash balloon drop, a champagne toast and party favors. Tickets are $20 at the door. 3912 Cedar Springs Road.

Alexandre’s New Year’s Eve Party with Andrea Dawson and Band. Free champagne toast at midnight. No cover. Party hats and favors provided. 9 p.m–close. 4026 Cedar Springs Road.

Full Circle Tavern’s “Mad as Hatter” New Year’s Eve Party. Dress your head in its most interesting attire to ring in 2015. All-inclusive dinner, cocktails, live DJ, party favors and complementary champagne at midnight. RSVP at 214-208-3435. 1319 S. Lamar St.

The Grapevine’s New Year’s Eve Party. Features DJ Christopher J (of super ’80s band Berlin with Terri Nunn) spinning from 7 p.m. Cover is $1 at the door. 3902 Maple Ave.

Club Dallas New Years Eve Party. Event begins at 11p.m. with a champagne toast at midnight. 2616 Swiss Ave.

Considering the weather forecasts for tonight and tomorrow, you might want to make sure that you get somewhere fun and stay there! Here’s the forecast from Jeff Ray at CBS Channel 11:

It was already snowing in Jack and Denton counties — north and west of DFW — overnight Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Today’s (Wednesday, Dec. 31′s) high is only going to get to about 37 degrees, and winter storm warnings have been issued, mostly for the western regions of the The Metroplex. Tarrant County is expected to get “a trace of wintry mix” and areas a bit further west may see up to half an inch of ice on the ground.

And yeah, the forecasts say everything will be west. But you don’t want to take a chance that some of that mess won’t make its way into Dallas and on east.

And now, here’s a word of warning from the Dallas Police Department on drinking and driving:

“The Dallas Police Department will conduct a No-Refusal DWI Initiative during the New Year’s Day Weekend. This initiative will begin at 6:00 P.M., Wednesday, December 31, 2014 and will end at 6:00 A.M., Monday, January 5, 2015.

“During this initiative, officers will secure a search warrant for a blood sample from all persons arrested for DWI who refuse to voluntarily give a breath and/or blood sample.

“The Dallas Police Department would like to remind everyone to not drink and drive.”

—  Tammye Nash

Christmas Stocking Auction raises funds for Legacy Founders Cottage

The annual Christmas Stocking Auction at the Round-Up Saloon on Sunday, Dec. 14 raised $19,000 for Legacy Counseling Center’s Legacy Founders Cottage. Founders Cottage provides hospice and rehabilitative care for people living with HIV.

—  David Taffet

Mr./Miss Lonestar USofA at Round-Up Saloon

Photos by Katherine Haygood

—  Steve Ramos

‘Are You Smarter Than A Drag Queen?’ begins at Round Up Saloon

Are You Smarter

Chanel Champagne, left, and “Are You Smarter Than A Drag Queen?” winner Bel Je’dai. (Patrick Hoffman/Dallas Voice)

Chanel Champagne, hostess of ”Are You Smarter Than A Drag Queen?”, wrapped up the first night of competition at the Round Up Saloon on Monday. Bel Je’dai, the winner, walked away $25 richer. The contest will last several weeks and is held each Monday at 9 p.m. Anyone who thinks he’s smarter than a drag queen is invited to participate.

—  Steve Ramos

Dallas LGBT community continues to respond to food pantry shortage

Food Pantry

Donations provided some variety at the Resource Center food pantry this week, but the stock on shelves remains low.

Throughout the week, LGBT organizations have jumped to the rescue of the Resource Center food pantry, providing some variety, but the stock remains low. The pantry distributes more than seven tons of food a week.

North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tony Vedda sent a letter to more than 300 member businesses. He reminded them of why the pantry came into existence.

“The gay & lesbian community (as it was called at the time) took care of its own; no one else would,” he wrote. “Making sure that people with HIV/AIDS had food to eat was essential to their survival.”

He asked each business to make a $25 donation, which would total $7,500 in donations for food from the chamber.

Anyone who brings five cans to Fashionista GayBingo at S4 this weekend will be entered into a drawing for a variety of prizes including tickets to future GayBingo and GayBingo North.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas passed a hat at their meeting on Tuesday and sent Resource Center a check for $500. Log Cabin Republicans meets at Acme Social Club, 4900 McKinney at 6:30 tonight and will also be collecting.

Several of the bars are collection points for food including Dallas Eagle, JR.’s Bar & Grill and the Round-Up Saloon.

Dallas Voice is doing its own food drive and is a collection point for canned goods. Anyone who lives or works in the area is welcome to drop off canned food at the office during business hours. Items may be dropped at Dallas Voice, 4145 Travis St., Third Floor off Mon.–Fri. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

—  David Taffet

Largest country and western gay bar set to open … in Houston

Screen shot 2013-08-15 at 12.50.56 PMIt’s no secret that Texas gays like their cowboy bars — Dallas has the Round-Up, Austin had the Rainbow Cattle Company, and Houston? Well, Houston can soon lay claim to the biggest C&W-themed gay bar in the Lone Star State. Neon Boots Dancehall and Saloon is set to open a week from today at 11410 Hempstead Highway, the space that once was the Esquire Ballroom. The historic 1955 building on the outskirts of the city — which has played host to Patsy Cline, George Jones and Willie Nelson — has undergone a major renovation after laying fallow since the Esquire shut its doors in 1995. Neon Boots will be open Thursdays through Sundays, and plans include cowboy karaoke and line dancing lessons.

If you find yourself in Houston, you can check it out by visiting the club’s website.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Voice of Pride finalists selected

VOP13 - Finalist Group Photo

Last night at the Round-Up Saloon, the contestants who have been vying all summer to be crowned the 2013 Voice of Pride got whittled down to a final 10. These 10 will compete on Aug. 11 at the Rose Room in the final showdown of the year; the winner gets bragging rights and the chance to sing at the festival in Lee Park following the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, plus $3,500 in cash and two round-trip airline tickets and a hotel stay at a luxury Hilton.

Congratulations to all the finalists, listed here in alphabetical below:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

LifeWalk fundraisers set this weekend

LifeWalkLifeWalk isn’t until October, but you can get started early with helping raise money for the AIDS fundraiser. Here are some events this weekend:

AIDS Services of Dallas Car Wash. Get your ride clean and contribute to ASD at the same time. IN the Round-Up parking lot off Throckmorton, Saturday, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.

Green Team Pool Party. A private home hosts a day-long dip and sip for one of the teams. 1010 Gregory St., Garland, Saturday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

10th Annual Miss LifeWalk Pageant. Come root for your favorite ladyboy as she walks the runway for charity. The Rose Room inside Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road, Sunday, doors open at 6:30 p.m. $7 donation requested at the door; $17 reserved seating.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tom Sweeney, original owner of the Round-Up Saloon, dies

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Tom Sweeney, counting money thrown into the Texas flag during the Pride parade in 1993.

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The remains of The Round-Up Saloon after the 1989 fire

Tom Sweeney, original owner of the Round-Up Saloon, died this week. The bar opened July 11, 1980. Current owners Alan Pierce and Gary Miller bought it from Sweeney in 1998.

Sweeney began the bar’s tradition in 1987 of carrying the giant Texas flag in the Pride parade used to collect money that was donated to AIDS organizations.

In 1989, a fire at the Dallas Gay Alliance office, which was next door to the Round-Up, destroyed the DGA office, the Round-Up and TapeLenders. The bar reopened in its current location in the summer of 1990.

Sweeney moved the club to Maple Avenue for a year to a building that was most recently The Brick before being razed a year ago. He rebuilt the club on Cedar Springs Road in its original location.

After selling the club, Sweeney moved to Norman, Okla., to be near his sister, Patsy. The funeral is today.

Watch a video below about the 30-year history of the Round-Up Saloon:

—  David Taffet

Scenes from the Miss Gay USofA Classic Pageant at the Round-Up

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The Round-Up Saloon played host to Night Two of the annual Miss Gay USofA Classic Pageant on Monday. Similar to the Miss Gay USofA Pageant in every way save for an age requirement, Classic boasted 29 contestants, all ages 40 or above as per the rules. Contestants hailed from all over the country, the closest being Dallas’ very own Edna Jean Robinson and UnShante DeFoxx, and the farthest being Marina Del Rey, who traveled from Hawaii. Amy DeMilo won the title with Roxie Hart and Victoria Lace finishing as first and second runners-up, respectively.

Night One of the pageant set the stage for the elimination of all but the top 12 competitors. Remaining contestants competed in two categories: Evening Gown and Talent. In many instances multiple talent presentations were as flashy, intricate and creative as the gowns worn. With five minutes allotted to each contestant to set up the stage, many took advantage, and — with the help of each contestant’s own personal team — assembled elaborate sets adorned with props, hidden places for costume changes, and specially made backdrops. One in particular was Billie Jean, the winner of Miss Gay New England USofA Classic. With three costume changes during the allotted seven minutes of performance time, Jean began with a costume bearing a striking resemblance to Wonder Woman, then transformed to impersonate Annie Lennox from the Eurythmics, and ended as a priest(ess), complete with collar and rosary. Another over-the-top performance was given by first runner-up Roxie Hart. With the help of two professional ballet dancers, Hart put on her own rendition of Black Swan, with herself in the title role, and received a standing ovation at the conclusion of her talent presentation.

—  Patrick Hoffman