The Denver gay-and-lesbian community will take a giant step with A Weekend in Oz, a circuit party produced by and benefiting The Center, a local gay-services nonprofit. The gathering couldn't be timelier, says Center event director Michael Beatty.
"It's about community building together. I think we all need that in light of the recent events," he says.
The weekend-long event -- which will likely include some people dressed as characters from The Wizard of Oz (though costumes are not required) -- represents the Center's debut among the nation's circuit-party ranks. The circuit-party concept, developed in the early '80s in response to the AIDS crisis, combines gay activism and the nightlife scene. Mixing fundraising, underground dance music, networking and revelry, these annual affairs have gained stature. The Gay Men's Health Crisis Memorial Day party on Fire Island has become a classic.
4 p.m.-midnight September 23
After-hours party, 1:30 a.m.-6 a.m.
Club Amsterdam, 2901 Walnut Street, $25
Weekend pass $50-$75
With this inaugural, Denver joins Vancouver, Las Vegas, Montreal, Sydney and other cities with expanding gay communities in starting their own circuit parties outside the more established venues on the East and West coasts. While it's difficult to predict who might attend Denver's presentation, Beatty is optimistic that there will be a large turnout. He also sees A Weekend in Oz as the start of a new tradition, because, he says, the Oz fest will "plant a seed for future events." To help punch up the party spirit and triple-play schedule, an impressive talent lineup -- including Queer as Folk diva Pepper MaShay, "Rhythm Is a Dancer" vocalist Thea Austin and White Party performers Rubio & Kidd -- will join veteran circuit DJs Kimberly S and Phil B.