This year’s 30th-anniversary White Party seeks to return to its white roots: Lots of glamour and no torn shorts or T-shirts.
“Oh, no! I want this to be the highest level of formal wear so they can show their elegance,” said Jonathan Welsh, marketing and development manager of Care Resource, the agency that presents and benefits from the annual fundraiser. “A fantastic world of white.”
White Party, from 7 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Nov. 29, also has a new outdoor venue: Perez Art Museum Miami near downtown.
“We have hundreds of international visitors who come from Brazil and France and Israel and they want to be outside,” Welsh said. “They want to see the bay, they want to see the city, they want to see Miami.”
White Party is centerpiece of White Party Week, which runs during the Thanksgiving holiday from Nov. 26 through Dec. 1.
For more than 25 years, White Party was an early evening soiree at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens popular with thousands of middle-age gay men.
In 2010, Miami-Dade County sought nearly $60,000 to rent Vizcaya for the 2011 event and Care Resource said no.
White Party moved to Miami Seaquarium, then to a club in Wynwood. The event also shifted from early evening to late night, hoping to attract thousands of young gay men in club attire.
Results were lackluster and this year Care Resource has decided to shift back to an early-evening party it hopes will attract a more diverse audience. “Our goal is to bring in a larger spectrum of people from Miami,” said Steve Beko, Care Resource’s events coordinator. “White Party isn’t just an LGBT event, it’s a Miami event. Something our city can be proud of.”
White Party is the centerpiece of White Party Week, which last year grossed nearly $600,000 for Care Resource. For decades, the agency has been known for HIV/AIDS care, but now also provides adult primary medical care, women’s healthcare, dental and pediatric care.
“We are a federally qualified health center,” Welsh said. “White Party Week grossed $592,425 in 2013 with 86 cents of every dollar going back towards programs and services offered to our South Florida community.”
Returning to White Party will be drag queen Elaine Lancaster, acting as emcee for the 16th year.
“Sixteenth year in a row. Can you believe it? I’m still here honey,” said Lancaster, who has done HIV/AIDS fundraisers since the early 1980s. “AIDS is still important, still a crisis,” Lancaster said Thursday. “People are not even practicing safe sex anymore because they don’t think it’s a crisis. What idiots!”
Miami/Fort Lauderdale is No. 1 nationally in new HIV/AIDS diagnoses, according to recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“White Party started 30 years ago with an urgency to save lives,” Beko said. “It’s 30 years later and this pandemic is something that can be medically treated. But the urgency still exists because people are getting infected more and more in our community.”