A Political Party for the New Millennium
by Matt Kalkhoff

On April 30, 2000, several hundred thousand gay men and women are expected to descend upon our nation’s capital for the historic Millennium March on Washington (MMOW). The first GLBT March on Washington took place in 1979 and attracted approximately 100,000 people. The last March, in 1993, became famous among the party boys because the seeds for DC’s first circuit party were planted at this March. This year, the volunteer committee that hosts the now-famous Cherry events has scheduled Cherry 5 to take place on the same weekend as the Millennium March. There is a great deal of controversy surrounding this particular March, but there are also a lot of incredible events being planned that will make the weekend of April 28-30 in Washington, DC one of the highest profile events on the 2000 gay calendar.

The organizers of this fourth March on Washington for gay rights are hoping that "through an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion, the Millennium March will both inspire and empower all gay and lesbian individuals to work together to prepare our movement for the millennium and challenge our entire nation to join our campaign for equality." Although some outspoken members of the gay community have questioned the necessity and ultimate effectiveness of the upcoming March, enough progress has been made in recent months to ensure that this March is definitely going to take place. It is now time for all members of the gay community to put aside their differences and come together in April to make this the largest, most effective and influential gathering of gay men and women in our nation’s history so that we can finally win this seemingly endless fight for equality that has plagued our community for far too long.

The March itself was originally planned to include just a Rally on the National Mall, but due to pressure from various organizations and activists, the Rally has been expanded to include a 2-block street march and an 11-block stroll up the Mall. The March route has been shortened significantly this year because many people waited up to five hours in 1993 to begin marching, thereby missing the Rally altogether. Since the new route does not even pass by the White House or any other significant governmental buildings, simply plan to skip this portion of the March and meet everyone on the Mall at noon where your political activism will be best served in front of the U.S. Capitol. Check out www.mmow.org for official MMOW information and www.millenniummarch.com for an unbiased and comprehensive look at the March.

Now that we’ve got all the vital political issues ‘n stuff out of the way, let’s talk about the parties. Although many dance events popped up in Washington during past Marches, this is the first time that a nationally recognized circuit party with a strong foundation, Cherry 5, will coincide with the March. Proceeds raised during Cherry 5 will benefit The Cherry Fund, a non-profit organization that was established to provide financial support to various gay and lesbian causes in the Washington, DC area. This year’s beneficiaries include the new Washington Gay and Lesbian Center, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Foundation (the only national organization whose sole mission is to increase the number of outstanding openly gay and lesbian public servants), DC CARE Consortium (an AIDS resource and education consortium), and the Millennium March on Washington.

Several spectacular events are being planned for the Cherry 5 weekend including a Host Party with DJ Joe D’Espinosa on Friday night at one of DC’s newest nightclubs, Element. Cherry 5 Hosts will also be welcomed by DJ Darryl Strickland at Results The Gym for a "Pre-Party Pump" on Saturday afternoon. The highlight of the weekend will likely be an enormous dance extravaganza on Saturday night at The Old Post Office Pavilion where the sounds of circuit legend DJ Warren Gluck will be accompanied by the illusionary effects of lighting wizard Ross Berger. You might remember this incredible space from the 1993 March when over 6,000 people attended the legendary Spring to Life party. (If you missed it, check out www.richardsabala.com for some incredible photos of this event.) Sunday night’s closing party will take place at the mega-club Nation, and will host circuit sensation DJ Manny Lehman. Please visit www.cherryfund.com for additional information on the beneficiaries, parties, and host hotel. Event tickets and packages go on sale February 15th.

In a unique and innovative effort to raise even more money for their beneficiaries, The Cherry Fund has also assembled more than 40 of your favorite online stores to form www.ishopforcharity.com. At this site, you can shop at stores like J Crew and Amazon with a percentage of each sale going directly to the Cherry 5 beneficiaries.

If the Cherry 5 events haven’t worn you out, you can try an assortment of other dance parties that are being planned for this momentous weekend. Local promoters Dave Parham of Backbeat Productions and Mark Lee of Atlas Events (202/331-4422) are joining forces to bring DJ Buc to town on Sunday night at Zei Club. Lou Piper (Two2Fab@aol.com) presents Rapture on Friday night at The Cage with DJ St. Peter as well as his infamous Exclamation party on Sunday night with DJ Mark Vallese. Local bars and clubs will also be hosting their own events, including the likely appearance of super-DJs Danny Tenaglia and Victor Calderone thrown in for color. Please keep in mind that the March is still several months away, so many additional events will surely be added and some details may change.

In keeping with the spirit of music as a powerful force in our fight for equality, you are all cordially invited to join Melissa Etheridge, Ellen DeGeneres, Anne Heche, and Kristen Johnson at "Equality Rocks," a mega concert event that is being produced in conjunction with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC). "The rock concert for the new century celebrating equal rights for all" will take place at the 45,000-seat Robert F. Kennedy Stadium on Saturday, April 29, 2000 at 6:00 p.m. Many other performers are expected to join the line-up including Cher, Elton John, Bette Midler, and Garth Brooks. And what would a major circuit weekend be without the requisite Madonna rumour floating around? That’s right kids, the Big M just might grace us with her presence for a long-overdue concert appearance. The good news is that this rumour is coming from deep within HRC’s network, so let’s keep our fingers crossed. Tickets, which range from $35 in the nose-bleeds to $1,000 for front row seats, can be ordered online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 551-SEAT. You can also visit www.melissaetheridge.com and www.hrc.org for updates.

The world’s largest-ever non-sectarian demonstration celebrating same-sex marriage is also slated to take place on Saturday, April 29th in front of the IRS Building. The Reverend Troy D. Perry of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC) will preside over this public demonstration entitled "The Wedding: Now More Than Ever." Over 5,000 couples are expected to take part in this landmark event in hopes that our recent victory in Vermont has paved the way for nationally recognized same-sex marriage. Please contact Maaza Mengiste of UFMCC at (310) 360-8640 or via e-mail at ufmcchq@aol.com to register.

You can also join in The Millennium Medical Marijuana March on Saturday, April 29th, starting with a Rally to help support safe access for medical marijuana patients at 12 noon in Lafayette Park in front of the White House. A March will follow the Rally at 3:00 p.m. and a Medical Rights Rally and Concert at Henry Bacon Ball Field will close out the event between 4:00-8:00 p.m. Contact Richard Eastman at (323) 541-9000 or (310) 453-2700 for more details.

As you can see, there will be a multitude of electrifying events to keep you busy during Millennium March weekend, so come join us in our nation’s capital at the end of April and see for yourself why Washington isn’t just a stuffy city full of crooked politicians and their tired sex scandals, but more importantly, a dynamic spot where you can party your ass off while fighting for your basic civil rights as American citizens.

© 2000 Matt Kalkhoff

Versions of this article appeared in Circuit Noize's February 2000 issue, Miamigo's March 2000 issue, and at DanceMusic.About.com.