This year’s Dallas Purple Party Weekend (May 9-12) will attract popular DJs, drag queens and a bevy of hot guys from all over the world. We recently connected with Blake Baker, the Purple Foundation‘s Board President, for a closer look at the organization and this year’s party.
How did you get involved with the Dallas Purple Party?
The Purple Foundation was started in 2001 by Saul Flores and a group of friends to raise money for people in the area. I came on board as a volunteer in 2005 and my job was basically to drive DJs around. It was a lot of fun and I really liked getting involved. It didn’t really sink in that the money we were raising was going to save lives until a year later when I took a tour of AIDS services of Dallas, one of the main beneficiaries for Purple, and I actually saw where the money was going. It was a life-changing moment and I knew from that point on that I would devote everything to making this successful. I officially joined the board 2006 and then I became president of the organization in 2009.
There are very few events like Dallas Purple Party left in the States. Having a completely voluntary staff adds an element of soul and a rare passion to the events and I really think this comes across to those attending the party. They know we’re here because we have a goal to help people and they feel this energy they don’t get at every other party. AIDS Services of Dallas used to be the sole beneficiary for several years. As we’ve grown we’ve decided to spread the money raised to other organizations in Dallas. Last year we increased our beneficiaries to include the Resource Center of Dallas and Legacy Counseling Center.
We have six events over the weekend: two on Friday, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. It’s a full weekend but not overwhelming weekend. You will still have time to rest and see the city and do touristy things. One of things that really different this year is we added a bear party. Dallas is home to TBRU, which I think is one of world’s largest bear events and so we really felt that the bear community is something we wanted to include in our weekend. The new bear party will be on Friday night at the Dallas Eagle. We’re teaming up with Charlie McDonald, a bear promoter here in Dallas. Charlie puts up all these parties called Honey Pot, and he’s helping us bring in a good crowd. We’ll also have Ignite, our big Friday night opening party at Station 4 which is a huge gay club right there on the strip. We’re going to have DJ Abel in town, as well as Alyssa Edwards from RuPaul‘s Drag Race performing. She’s originally from Dallas. We always want to reinforce the hometown feel of the weekend.
What are some of the best things about Dallas?
Dallas has come a long way over the past ten years. We used to be known for big hair and shopping but now Dallas has one of the largest urban arts district in the United States and the new Klyde Warren Park, built on top of the Woodall Rodgers Freeway. It’s really changed downtown. Dallas also has plenty of great restaurants, and we’re of course known for our shopping. Another great place you don’t want to miss is the Bishop Arts District in North Oak Cliff: it’s pedestrian friendly and there are all kinds of amazing restaurants.
One of biggest selling points of our weekend is its value. We could charge a lot more for these parties, but it’s not about that. We really want to be accessible to the whole gay community, not just one demographic. We’re able to negotiate some great deals with our venues and vendors in order to keep ticket prices down. Lord knows I’ve been a broke college student and wanted to attend things I wasn’t able to.
What are you most excited about?
I’m really excited to see the people that come back to Purple Party year after year and I’m also looking forward to the music from our amazing DJ line-up.
What can the newbies expect when they come out for the weekend?
People are often surprised by the production quality, the great venue, and the hot and friendly guys. Plan to be pleasantly surprised!
Scroll down to see some photos from past parties.