Downtown is going to be hopping this Saturday night when two incredible parties benefiting AIDS Services of Austin (ASA) start rocking on either side of I-35.
The Octopus Club's OctoTea is going on its 16th amazing year of FUNdraising and Club Kid is holding its inaugural dance party with the hopes of becoming a yearly event. While completely unaffiliated, ASA is the lucky recipient of all the proceeds from both of these great parties, so you can't go wrong at either one. And if you're up for the quick hop across/over/under the freeway, you can easily make it to both!
First, over at The Mexican-American Cultural Center, The Octopus Club, the volunteer fundraising arm of ASA, is holding their annual OctoTea 16 party as a fundraiser for the Paul Kirby Emergency Assistance Fund. According to Octo Club planning chairwoman Mary Morrison, The Kirby Fund "serves as a bridge to get people over that difficult time between a [positive HIV] diagnosis and receipt of benefits, probably the time of greatest need."
While OctoTea started out as "Sunday afternoon tea dances," the title is a lot more quaint than the actualized rocking party you can expect on Saturday night. There won't be a spot of Earl Grey in sight. Instead, you can expect adult beverages from local distilleries like Treaty Oak Rum and Enchanted Rock Vodka. Then, how about food from Central Market and dessert from Amy's Ice Creams?
One of the greatest aspects of these Tea parties is the fact that 100% of proceeds go toward ASA. Says Morrison, "There is no one particular sponsor for OctoTea. In-kind corporate sponsors contribute their goods and services, and every single penny from sponsorships or donations goes to the Kirby Fund." To sweeten the deal, a Southwest Airlines weekend trip-for-two is up for raffle and a silent art auction will up the incoming fund total.
And since it's Austin, you can't skimp on the musical acts. Therefore, you can dance along to the bluesy sounds of Austin's new favorite bear cub with a voice, Nakia; rising Austin (post-)punk band MoTel Aviv; producer and DJ with Austin roots (remember The Forum, y'all?), DJ Roland Belmares; and local jazz chanteuse and theater diva Courtney Sanchez. There will even be an African drum circle in attendance to keep the party moving at a steady beat.
"OctoTea is quite literally one of the most culturally diverse events anywhere, even in Austin," adds Morrison. "It is heavily supported by the gay community, but also many straight people—men women, older, younger—everyone comes out. AIDS doesn't care who it affects, and people from every walk of life support our cause."
Meanwhile, over at the ND@501 Studios, a gaggle of gay and gay-adjacent East side party planners will be putting on the inaugural Club Kid, a fashion show and dance party inspired by the ecstasy-fueled Party Monster era that some of today's younger clubgoers may have never experienced. Minus the ecstasy and plus a strong safe sex advocacy, Club Kid will be a fun night of fashion shows, music and fundraising.
The event hatched from the mind of Austin scenester Frank Rivera, who experienced a similar type of party while attending school in Western Kentucky. "I saw how even in a small, semi-rural city in an extremely conservative part of the country, the opportunity for people to dress up, explore their mondo-bizarro side and play with other night creatures became an event of note," he says. "I find that very inspirational."
Pulling together significant players in the increasingly energetic gay party scene on the East side of I-35, Rivera found the right people to make his vision a reality. According to Rivera, Austin Eavesdropper's Tolly Mosely jumped on board with the promise of a REAL dress up night, and Mouthfeel's Jeremy von Stilb was thrilled with the opportunity to commemorate his idols, queer artists Keith Haring and Leigh Bowery.
While you may not recognize the name, Bowery is the quintessential club kid. (Don't tell that to James St. James or Michael Alig.) His bizarre and otherworldly fashion creations inspired the late designer Alexander McQueen and played more of a hand in Lady Gaga's over-the-top choices than she'd even probably admit. Going through his gallery of insane creations, you'll be hard pressed to not find some inspiration for Saturday's party.
"I wouldn't necessarily call the attire 'costumes,' per se," says Rivera. "I think Club Kids dress up in a 'Come as you REALLY are' or 'Let the freaky side of you out for a night' style. Costumes are dressing up as someone else, right? You're dressing up as you—but you as a living statue. Or you on way too much vodka. Whichever analogy you find most appropriate."
Whatever you call it, creativity will be highlighted in the 10pm fashion show hosted by wig/makeup/accessory house Coco Coquette. In an Austin-celebrity judged runway show, one lucky designer will walk away with the $1000 top prize. Then it's on to the ginormous dance party featuring psych-electric band End Wave, breakdancing from B*Girlz and Samba music from Ms. Coral Rose. Oh, and did we mention the drag show from Feonix Firestone? Oh, right, that too.
"I hope the people with the most bizarre ideas for their clothing choices make it to the party," adds Rivera. "I also hope the people who don't feel like they can attend a $100 a plate fundraiser but still want to give to AIDS-related causes come to the party. Oh, also, I want Lady Gaga and Scott Thompson (from Kids in the Hall) there."
Whether 16 years in the making or 6 months in planning, both of these organizations follow the noble cause raising money for Austinites living with HIV, and every dollar earned could help to save a life. "Partying is great, and sex and nightlife culture are fun...but you need to know what the risks are," says Rivera. "I think that's something we're all in agreement about."
As for what he'll be wearing to the Club Kid Party: "I think I'll be going as a cross between an English school boy and a refined gentleman. Definitely a monocle and elf shoes, maybe a top hat and cane. We'll see..."
Club Kid springs forth into the world at 9pm at the ND@501 Studios. Donations are welcome at the door.