Friday, July 14, 2006

Ready, set, party for the Gay Games - Parties schedule for the Games

Ready, set, party for the Gay Games
By Monica Eng
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune
Published July 13, 2006

With more than a dozen parties competing for your attention during the Gay Games, which run Saturday through July 22 throughout the Chicago area, just keeping up with the festivities could be a medal sport--with extra points for knowing exactly what to wear and how to prepare for each event.

Some, such as the lavish "circuit parties" that are part of the gay scene in major cities, will keep you out dancing until breakfast time. Others are great for an early-evening transition into party mode.

Debra Minghi is a self-described international circuit party veteran. She's also marketing program manager for the Gay Games. Minghi helped us develop this pre-game strategy for going to some of the biggest Gay Games galas--and figuring out which parties are best for your nights on the town.

PARTY SURVIVAL PLAN

Be early: If you want to meet new people, arrive at the parties about 15 minutes before they begin. This way you can mix and chat before the music gets too loud.

All are welcome: Even if parties are labeled "women's" or "men's" events, everyone is welcome because "the games are all participation, inclusion and personal best," Minghi says.

Wear good socks: Unless otherwise specified, appropriate attire for these dance-heavy parties would be "something comfortable, something that breathes easily," Minghi says. "You can put together some cute party outfits with cushioning athletic socks. You also want to wear things that represent your team or country. Commenting on someone's team attire is a great way of starting conversations."

Have flair: Although sporty outfits are likely to prevail, Minghi says, "you'll also see a lot of sequins and feathers. We encourage people to show their creativity."

When in ... : Just like when you were in high school, a good rule of thumb is "to call your friends to see what they are going to wear. Some people like to come theme-dressed with their groups of friends like `Boy Scouts gone crazy' or something," Minghi says.

Drink water: It's July, and it's hot, so stay hydrated.

Go flat: Go ahead and wear stilettos if you want to, girlfriend, but Minghi reminds us: "You are going to be on your feet a long time, so I would recommend some fun sport shoes."

Feed yourself: Before a long night of dancing--and some of these parties go till 6 a.m.--make sure to eat for energy. "I always bring a backpack full of healthy food and PowerBars," says Minghi, so she can take a break and refuel. At some of the parties, she says, fruit and bagels may be put out at about 4 a.m. to help you recharge.

Back up: There will often be dance boxes in the middle of the floor with speakers in them. Minghi suggests you "lean up against them to give your lower back a massage. Also use them to bend and stretch your calves after dancing to avoid cramps. Remember, you want to be vampy, not crampy."

Check out these parties

With suggestions from Gay Games' Debra Minghi. For information: www.gaygameschicago.org.

Chicago Women's Kick-Off Party

(Hosted by Olivia Cruises & Resorts and Human Rights Campaign)

Fri., 9 p.m.-midnight; Chicago Hilton Hotel, 720 S. Michigan Ave.; $25 in advance, $35 at the door

They are not saying who the special performers are, but with athletes like Sheryl Swoopes of the WNBA's Houston Comets, "you know it's going to be a social night," Minghi says.

Inspiration

(Hosted by Atlantis Cruises & Masterbeat)

Sat., 10 p.m.-6 a.m.; Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence Ave.; $50

This is one of the official opening parties, featuring deejays such as "Abel from Miami, with this huge polyrhythmic sound, and Brett Henrichsen from the West Coast, who has a big, world-beat, harder edge," Minghi says.

Black Bra International

(Hosted by Curve Magazine and Chix Mix Productions)

Sun., 6 p.m.-2 a.m.; Transit Night Club, 1431 W. Lake St.; $20 in advance, $25 at the door

"You could wear a black sports bra or a black bra and a skirt or pants, and a lot of people will be wearing black leather bras," Minghi says.

International Deaf LGBT Party

(Hosted by WCRAD)

Mon., 5-10 p.m.; Spin, 800 W. Belmont Ave.; $10

"We have a lot of deaf athletes coming from all over the world, and this is a way for them to connect and get together," Minghi says, adding that everyone is welcome.

2006 Pride Pool Party

(Hosted by Sexy "K" Productions)

Tues., 8-11 p.m.; Chicago Park District-Washington Park Aquatic Center, 5538 S. Russell Drive; $48

"Come here in your best swimming attire representing your team or your country," Minghi says, and dance to the sounds provided by English deejay Sheron D. Webb.

Peninsula Hotel Party

(Hosted by Hydrate Events and Chicago's Big Gay Cocktail Club)

Wed., 6-10 p.m.; The Peninsula Hotel, 108 E. Superior St.; $20

"Here, the attire is going to be more chi-chi , so you should leave the sweaty clothes at home," she says.

Men at Sea

(Hosted by Hydrate Events)

July 20, 11 p.m.-3 a.m.; Spirit of Chicago, Navy Pier; $35

Sailor or shipmate attire is the choice. "You want to have sort of a military-sailor-type thing going on," Minghi says.

2006 International Pride Cruise

(Hosted by Sexy "K" Productions)

July 20, 8-11 p.m.; Spirit of Chicago, Navy Pier; $60

Again, sailing or swimming attire representing team or country.

Olympus

(Hosted by Hydrate Events)

July 21, 8 p.m.-4 a.m.; Vision and Excalibur nightclubs, 632 N. Dearborn St.; $35

Will feature dance-vocalist Crystal Waters and deejay duo Rosabel (Abel and Ralphi Rosario). "When these two deejays join forces, they have a big sensual sound with a predator beat," Minghi says.

Sweat (New York Party)

(Hosted by GYM Sportsbar)

July 21, 9 p.m.-4 a.m.; Metro, 3730 N. Clark St.; $35 in advance, $45 at the door

"This party will have a lot of athletes and their fans celebrating on the last day of the competition," Minghi says.

Victory (an official Women's Closing Party)

(Hosted by Club Skirts and PlanetOut.com)

July 22, 7 p.m.-2 a.m.; Navy Pier, Grand Ballroom, 600 E. Grand Ave.; $40, $35 registered GGVII athletes, $60 VIP

"Here we will have a lot of Dinah [Shore] deejays and Club Skirt's famous go-go dancers performing. The organizers are encouraging people to dress `fun and sexy' for this."

Adrenaline (an official Women's Closing Party)


(Hosted by Curve Magazine)

July 22, 7 p.m.-4 a.m.; Metro, 3730 N. Clark St.; $25, $70 VIP

"If you are going to more than one girls' party, you might want to buy a special pass that will let you go to this and other parties all in one night," says Minghi. "Get ready to dance a lot here because this goes 'til 4 a.m."

Triumph

(Hosted by Atlantis Cruises & Masterbeat)

July 22, 10 p.m.-6 a.m.; Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence Ave.; $75

This is really a men's party but open to anyone and will feature Manny Lehman, a deejay from the West Coast. "He just has this big, anthemic sound with booming vocals and big drum sounds," Minghi says. "If you won some medals, tonight's the night you want to wear them."

Official "L Word" Closing Party

(Hosted by Showtime)

July 23, 8-11 p.m.; House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn St.; $12-$15

"This show is going to feature Betty in concert as well as appearances by `L Word' stars Pam Grier, Marlee Matlin and more," Minghi says. But also expect dancing.

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meng@tribune.com

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