By Daniel A. Kusner – Life+Style Editor

DJ Garret Weiss, left, manned the turntables at OutLines while his boyfriend, Ernest Gallegos, worked the DFW Federal Club table.

1st Wednesday on Cedar Springs — the special gay day for deals, meals, music, scavenger hunts and go-go boys

The weather gods kissed the Cedar Springs Merchants Association’s this month. On April 3, the sidewalks, shops and clubs along Oak Lawn’s gayest drag were flooded with bargain hunters, musicians, community activists and merchant tents. It was the fifth First Wednesday, a monthly event to revitalize Dallas’ gayest ‘hood and to maintain Oak Lawn’s idiosyncratic charm.

Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, has noticed that Oak Lawn is frequently getting tagged as an Uptown business district.

"And it’s not. So the merchants along Cedar Springs are working together to re-establish Oak Lawn as its own community," Doughman says.

SING OUT PROUD: Voice of Pride finalist Robert Olivas belted out an homage to George Michael with a soulful version of "Father Figure" in front of Sue Ellen’s.

Doughman doesn’t actually have an official position with the Cedar Springs Merchant Association. But he’s does recruit Voice of Pride singers to perform on First Wednesday. This month, 2007 competitors Robert Olivas, Mel Arizpe and Junye Butler belted out songs in front of Sue Ellen’s, which is about to vacate its old digs to move into its new Throckmorton Street space on April 17.

The face of Oak Lawn is rapidly changing. Residential properties are being erected at a staggering pace. But Doughman says in the past year, Cedar Springs’ street traffic has declined. So businesses from Condom Sense to Nuvo are doing what they can to lure people back to The Strip.

While practically every shop had a sidewalk tent with specials, the merchants also contribute to a scavenger hunt. Pick up a merchant check-off list to enter a drawing for a goodie basket worth $800: Puma shoes from Skivvies, pen and photo frame from Nuvo, vino-wear from TapeLenders, a leather wallet from Union Jack, dinner or lunch date at Hunky’s, $100 gift card from Buli, sexy stuff from Condom Sense, VIP party treatment at Sue Ellen’s and The Rose Room and more.

Judy Spells, left, and partner Peaches Franklin ate at Hunky’s and scooped up half-price Pride wear at TapeLenders’ tent

First Wednesday started in December, and the first month started off promising. But January’s event was the day after New Year’s, February and March were on the chilly side. This month’s "Spring Fling" was a dramatic improvement, Doughman said. Its seems that the warmer temperatures lure Dallas’ most endangered species: pedestrians. On the sidewalk, it was easy to mingle, shop, stroll and talk in the open air and enjoying music.

— Daniel A. Kusner

YOU GO-GO, BOYS: Darin Iglehart, left, Jay Woods, middle and Robert Calwson kept the panty-show party humping and pumping while dancing on boxes at Skivvies.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 4, 2008.

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