November 2, 2008

Oh, What A Night

The Damien Center had its annual Grande Masquerade last night, and it was a great success as the prime fundraising event for our AIDS support center. This was the second event I have attended as a volunteer. What a hoot.

The theme was "Moulin Rouge," and the decor was fabulous in every sense of the word. The table centerpieces were either a dozen red roses in a slender black vase or a woman's leg topped  with red ostrich feathers. The whole thing offered a carnival atmosphere that belied the purpose behind the event.

The entertainment began with the Bag Ladies, a local group of guys who dress in drag and dance. They were hilarious and, in some cases, disturbingly beautiful. One of the Bag Ladies helped me put on my wig, since it was my first time. (I was dressed in a huge hoop skirt and a wig with enough curls for three. I felt like I was in drag myself.)

After the local dance troupe pranced, twirled and leaped, the entertainment closed with Flava. When I asked about him, no one could quite describe what I could expect; so forgive me if I have the same difficulty. (And I wish I had pictures!) Flava is a gorgeous young black man who entertains by singing and dancing to pounding disco music. He's not in drag per se (is he? No dresses or any attempt to look female), but he does wear makeup and a ton of feathers: feather headress, feather tail and shoulders, ostrich cape. He has various skintight outfits that show off his finely sculpted body. I'd call his talent strutting. That boy can strut his stuff. You can't help but grin and cheer when you watch him. There's nothing sexier than confidence. (That's why the bad boys always have dates. But I digress.)

After we closed down the silent auction, I went (in street clothes) to the afterparty at the local gay bar, anticipating meeting some of my fellow workers who'd promised to attend. Upon arriving I walked around a police cruiser and van with flashing lights as they cuffed an inebriated perpetrator near the front door. Naturally, not one of my friends was in the place; but I stayed for about an hour just cuz. The music was loud and always backed by a thundering beat, accompanied by swirling lights. I wandered upstairs to survey the dance floor below and nurse my drink. Clusters of people behind me struggled to chat over the loud music.

From reading gay men's blogs, I didn't know what to expect of the most popular gay bar in the city. (I have learned, however, never to enter any bar named Eagle.) Honestly, except for the drag shows in the side room, what I saw of this bar is just like the ones I used to attend in my twenties. It's been that long since I've been in one like this, but it was familiar. The atmosphere was primal and tribal; everyone was joined by the beat.

There were a couple of raised platforms on the dance floor for anyone who wanted to be seen. Just like the magic T of the classroom, those who were most confident were closest to the front and middle. As I wandered through the bar crowd, smiles were abundant. It was an interesting time; not having friends to chat with allowed me to observe. I do like people-watching.

Time was pressing. It had been a long night, and I had to get up early for work. I finished my orange juice and drove home. Evening inventory: finery, fabulous feathers, friends, and fun. What a night.

Postscript: I've learned from one of the hardest-working volunteers that this Masquerade was the highest attended and one of the most profitable. What a night.


Doug said...

Sounds like an amazing event. It's too bad your friends didn't show up at the bar afterward. And it's also a shame you didn't wear your outfit. ;)

Sooo-this-is-me said...

Looks like a very interesting and fun night Birdie, but where is your picture?

Me Online said...

I'd like to see a picture of you in your get-up, too. Sounds like an amazing evening. By the way, what was that elephant doing?

I have discovered something else about you. We are only about 7 months different in age. Oops! You're the older one. :) Nice to know.

Greg said...

I hadn't realized what a slacker I'd been about blog-reading 'til I started making the rounds to get caught up...

This sounds like a great night. Please let me add my voice to the clamouring horde who wish you'd posted a picture of you and your costume/uniform for the evening!