It was a perfectly sunny Sunday afternoon to put on a red dress and join a crowd of campy and rowdy men (and some female friends) for the 23rd Annual Red Dress Party 2019 at Gold Coast Bar in West Hollywood, on July 21st.
The tradition continues for the 23rd year with all forms of red dresses and some dressed-for-less, who walked from their parked cars to the bar in outfits that varied from simple spaghetti-strapped silhouettes, to over-the-top feathers, fringe, lace, boas, ratty wigs, tules, and other head-scratching creations. This year there was a horse-drawn carriage with Mary Poppins waving at those who happened to be passing by on Santa Monica Boulevard.
The Red Dress Party 2019 took place inside the bar and spilled onto the the parking lot in back. DJ Chubjim spun outside from 2pm-9pm. The DJs inside the bar included: DJ Jeff spun from 10am-3pm, DJ Hazmat from 3pm-8pm and DJ Draven from 8pm-Midnight.
Proceeds this year benefitted The Life Group Los Angeles.
The Life Group LA is a coalition of people dedicated to the education, empowerment and emotional support of persons both infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, so that they may make informed choices and decisions regarding their healthcare and personal well being. Founded in 2005, the organization provides free of charge, much needed information and emotional support through medical forums, emotional support groups and the POZ Life Weekend Seminar. All services are offered in a non-judgmental and safe environment with compassion and understanding.
The Red Dress Party debuted on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and La Jolla Avenue in 1997. It was created by Gold Coast bartenders, Mark Ferguson and Yves-Claude. Both men were HIV+ during a time when being HIV+ was like a death sentence. The twosome made a pact with each other that whoever passed away first, the other would go to their funeral wearing a red dress. Mark was known for dressing up in drag and visiting some of the HIV/AIDS wards at hospitals. He was also often seen in full drag and hanging out behind the Gold Coast bar. It was his way of making the most out of life and making people laugh.
Sadly, Mark was the first one to pass. Yves-Claude could not attend his memorial because he was out of town. When Yves-Claude returned, Bob Hasting, the owner of the bar came up with the idea to create an event and invite everyone to wear a red dress in celebration of Mark’s life. Yves-Claude would lose his battle to complications of AIDS a few years later, but he was able to see the impact the Red Dress party had on the West Hollywood community. The entire bar was a sea of red feathers, rhinestones, glitter, wigs, and exaggerated lips.
Check out the Red Dress Party 2019 photos by WEHO TIMES contributor Mike Pingel.