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Red Dress Party has local charities seeing green
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Red Dress Party has local charities seeing green

by David Luc Nguyen - SGN Contributing Writer

A sea of red chiffon, satin lace, and matte jersey painted a dramatic crimson backdrop for a memorable evening in the Emerald City on November 21. More than 850 individuals braved the cold weather, blustering winds, and epic rainfall to raise more than $20,000 for local HIV/AIDS charities. Great music, beautiful people, memorable performances, and an appearance by American Idol top-three finalist Kimberly Locke helped to make the event shine, and has quickly established the Seattle Red Dress Party as one of the "must-do" events of the social season.

The color red has long been tied to AIDS awareness. The Red Dress Party builds on that color tie and takes it to a fun extreme. As the party's organizing committee said, "The visual of all attendees donning red dresses - whether male, female, Gay, straight, old or young - serves as a powerful symbol of solidarity of people living with HIV/AIDS and also reminds us that we are all here to make a difference and support a common cause."

Sam Galano, the founder of the sold-out Seattle's Red Dress Party, was inspired after attending Portland's Red Dress Party with a group of friends to support local audio talent (and good friend) DJ Brian Gorr. "The energy was so overwhelmingly positive and they were raising money for such a good cause I knew we had to do one in Seattle. We were impressed [by how the organizers] were able to create a strong sense of community, and how inclusive the event was. People from all walks of life, in both the LGBT and the straight allied communities, were mingling and having a good time." Seattle's Red Dress Party board was able to successfully recreate that inclusive feeling to the benefit of not only attendees, but deserving community organizations.

Four HIV/AIDS-related service organizations will benefit from this year's festivities: Multifaith Works, Gay City Health Project, The Seattle Humane Society, and the Pride Project. "Each of the beneficiaries was selected first and foremost because they service our friends and loved ones in the community that are affected by HIV/AIDS, and second because of the unique niche they fill in the community," said Galano. Attendees not only got to help out the GBLTQ community, they were also treated to great music, inspired performances and dancing.

The ever-sexy DJs, The Perry Twins, and DJ Joy did not disappoint the scantily clad men and women, as they spun a web of audio delight and kept the masses on their feet well past 2 a.m. Also entertaining the cross-dressing crowd were local drag phenoms Gaysha Starr, Regina King, and Nina Maxwell, who took center stage and mesmerized the crowds with their beauty and talent.

Kimberly Locke also took the stage to speak about how she had heard about the event and has been an advocate for HIV/AIDS since leaving American Idol. Afterward, she spoke exclusively with SGN about how an 11-day trip to Africa with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation changed her life, and in doing so made her a powerful lifelong advocate to the cause. She also discussed her charitable work for an organization that is near and dear to her, Camp Heartland. She was so impressed with how successful Seattle's Red Dress Party was that she arranging meetings in January to discuss the possibility of throwing similar parties in other cities to help other struggling HIV/AIDS organizations.

When asked if we can expect another Red Dress Party next year, Mr. Galano said, "Absolutely! As long as people are having fun and we can continue to raise money for HIV/AIDS, we will continue doing this. The need for this event reminds us that there is not yet a cure, but that we are all there because we care enough to do something about it. My hope is that the Red Dress Party will continue to raise awareness that this disease is still around and we still need funding for research, education, care and prevention."

Next year's Red Dress Party promises to be bigger and better, so plan on attending this event in 2010. One piece of advice, though: don't get too caught up on finding the perfect pair of shoes or clutch to compliment your fabulous frock like I did. If next year is anything like this year, the must-have accessories is a strong social consciousness and/or bulging biceps - and chest hair helps, too.

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