It's rained on the gay pride parade in Phoenix two out of the past four years, as April showers threatened to turn the annual "Party in the Park" into another Woodstock mud bog. But instead of bell-bottoms and free LSD, there were neon spandex and free condoms.
Festival-goers really didn't mind the showers (well, except for maybe the drag queens, who refused to get half-naked and muddy), because the Pride Festival has traditionally only been one day in a weekend of scorching afterparties.
This year, festival organizers decided to expand the Pride Festival to two days, to accommodate larger crowds and decrease the chances of another washout. And double the days means double the soirees.
On Saturday, April 2, the first of two official Phoenix Pride after-parties takes place at the Icehouse, 429 West Jackson Street. Masquerade Entertainment, the local company that brought us the RISE Phoenix dance events, will be armed with colorful laser effects and an elaborate set designed around a Greek theme for "Adonis." Grammy Award-winning DJ Hex Hector and queen of club play Kristine W. provide groovin' tunes inside, while the latest music videos beam down to the outdoor courtyard from a two-story projection system. Advance tickets are $15; $20 at the door. Show up around 9 p.m. in a toga.
The following night is "Eternity," also a Greek-themed fete, at the Icehouse. Liquid 360, a duo that's done remixes for artists including Cher and Pink, will bust out beats, and Phoenix's own DJ Jeremy, a mainstay of clubs Scorch Bar and Paco Paco, will spin his souped-up dance anthems. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10.
For the younger set tired of having to drink coffee at the "Gay Denny's" on Camelback until after 2 a.m., you can hit these parties early. They're both 18 and older all night, with a full bar for those 21 and older with ID. A weekend pass to both parties is available for $20, presale only. Visit www.adonisparty.com.
Of course, the Arizona Central Pride Festival itself still offers the most in sheer entertainment, with a Saturday roster that includes dance diva Evelyn "Champagne" King, comedienne Sabrina Matthews, folk rocker Mark Weigle, and pop sensation Crystal Waters ("100 Percent Pure Love"). On Sunday, Latin pianist Kevin Ceballo, comedian Nick Tarr, and pop heartthrob Josh Zuckerman, among others, take the main stage. There are also four other entertainment areas: a local stage, a dance pavilion, a jazz stage, and a country saloon.
And as always, Phoenix Pride brings out the chuckles and naughty bits, as vendors display tee shirts with bastardized logos, like "Homo Depot," and leather-lovers put on whipping displays using participants from the crowd.
And then, of course, there's the karaoke booth.