Head to Dallas for the Purple Party
One man's dream of a party that would bring Dallas' gay community together has blossomed into the Purple Party, one of the Southeast's major dance events - and one of the largest non-profit, all-volunteer dance fundraisers in the entire country.
Since 2001, the Purple Foundation has taken over the Big D for a spring danceathon that brings revelers from all over the country. This is Texas, y'all, so everything is bigger here: The parties, the venues and the smiles on the dance floor. Dallasites are proud of their big event, and they relish being able to show off their out-and-proud gay community.
"It's not like any of the other big parties you go to," foundation president Blake Baker told noiZe. "Everybody has a very down-home, very welcoming feeling. We really enjoy all of the people who come from different parts of the country!"
The fun begins on Friday night, May 9, when Ignite sets the town on fire, with one of the most popular DJs on the Circuit. Taking place in one of Dallas' biggest megaclubs, Ignite has grown exponentially from a cocktail party into a Texas-sized dance party, with more than 1,500 attendees. All those (need we say it?) big men dancing to a state-of-the-art sound and light system need a lot of room - and a lot of time. This party starts early and goes late into the wee hours, so rest up before you head for the man-corral to lasso some stallion of your own.
A pool party in the spring? Yep, in late April/early May, the daytime weather in Dallas usually hovers in the high 70s or low 80s, so bring a bathing suit (purple, of course) for Rise, the Saturday afternoon pool party that takes over one of the major local resort complexes. Complete with a DJ and flaggers, this is the perfect time to cement those friendships begun the night before. Just don't forget the sunscreen, because the sun's intensity equals late August.
You've got your tan line. Now comes the time to show it off. Be prepared to show some skin at the gargantuan main event. Every year, the Purple Foundation takes over Dallas' best indoor venue and transforms it into a tribal celebration of music, muscle and men, men, men (plus, of course, our favorite galpals). At least two DJs headline; there are plenty of go-go boys; and don't be surprised if you look up and see one of the major dance divas belting out a few anthems, as Deborah Cox did a few years back at one main event.
A major party weekend wouldn't be complete without a recovery tea dance, and Texans are nothing if not obliging. So get ready for one last roundup, at the afternoon-into-evening Revival - aptly named, because you are sure to revive your energy with two top DJs at one of the country's top rated nightclubs.
Except that it's not over yet. Glow, the closing party, is guaranteed to have you leaving the club in the early-morning hours tired as hell but, yes, glowing.
Best of all, you can bask in your own glow, knowing that all of the money raised is going to benefit local AIDS service organizations. Purple Party Weekend has become one of the city's largest fundraisers for those living with HIV. As such, it has been embraced by the entire city with a Texas-sized bear hug.
Even so, there's nothing wrong with saving some money. Check out the weekend pass, which costs less than a main event for many other Circuit party weekends. There's also an "early bird" special if you register quickly. Another advantage to not sitting on the fence: You have a much better chance of booking a room at the host hotel, which means the fun can continue even after the party ends. Purple Party Weekend takes over the luxurious and historic Warwick Melrose Hotel, conveniently located in the heart of Dallas's gay district.
While in Dallas, be sure to set aside some time to explore the city. Just leave whatever preconceived notions you might have about the ninth-largest city in the country behind, because you will be pleasantly surprised at how sophisticated and gay friendly Dallas has become - especially Oak Lawn, the city's major gayborhood, and the location for many of the parties. Also, be sure to take in the Cathedral of Hope, the world's largest church with a predominantly LGBT congregation.
If you're a fan of the nighttime drama named after the city, you simply must visit Southfork Ranch, where much of the TV show Dallas was filmed. The 340-acre ranch is 25 miles northeast of downtown Dallas, but it's well worth the trip to see the gun that shot J.R. in what was the most-watched soap opera episode in TV history as well as Charlene Tilton's wedding dress and the site of the funeral (or was it?) for Bobby.
You're sure to work up a Texas-sized appetite, and when in Dallas, there's only one meal that will do: steak. There are more steakhouses than you can shake a steak at, but you're guaranteed to leave with enough fuel for the entire weekend - especially if you top your meal with one of those mountainous desserts.
The Purple Party runs May 9 - 12