“Over the past years with the economy being so bad, we want to offer a good party at an affordable price,” he says. “This year will be about fellowship and brotherhood, but we want to make all our events accessible.”
Traxx Atlanta is offering two free parties — one on Jan. 13 and the other on Jan. 14 — at its new home, XS Ultra Lounge on Spring Street, the former home of Club 708. Traxx Atlanta closed its signature club on Columbia Drive last summer.
The Jan. 14 free part is the Inferno Dominican Republic & The House of Chapelle Model Search, where men and women are invited to bring their own swimsuits to wear down the catwalk. Four winners will be selected via Facebook votes and will become swimwear spokesmodels for the House of Chapelle and receive a $1,000 cash prize.
“By creating a party scene and a culture, we all make Atlanta a place to come for MLK Weekend,” Boone adds.
Wassup N ATL, Rockstars Production, and the Lions Den all host parties for the men over MLK Weekend at various clubs in the city, while Traxx Girls and Ladies At Play have smaller, one-night events to commemorate the weekend set aside to remember a civil rights hero.
Jaimee Robinson, also known as The Face Diva, hosts her fourth annual “We Are the Movement” Mini Ball on Jan. 15.
“If you are a beginner to the ball scene this is a good one to attend — this is one where you can come as you are, how you would dress when going to the club,” says Robinson, who earned her name The Face Diva after walking in balls in New York and elsewhere and winning in “The Face” category.
Balls are not known for starting on time. An 11 p.m. showtime by the men may really mean 3 or 4 a.m., Robinson says. But her ball, set to begin at 5 p.m., will start promptly. Not only does she not want contestants to have to wait all night — in the car or in the bathroom so they are not seen — before they walk, she has two other major balls to attend that night.
Categories in the “We Are the Movement” mini ball include Women’s Face, Women’s Runway, Women’s Pump and Bag, Butch Face, Butch Body, Transmen Realness, All American Runway and the grand prize of Female Figure Sex Siren.
Walking in a ball is entertainment to the crowds, but also a major self-esteem booster to those competing, Robinson says.
“I feel this is my way to give back to the community. Being a woman in a predominantly male scene I want to give back to women who want to walk,” she says.
A decade of community
In 2002, the first annual Bayard Rustin Breakfast was held to bring LGBT activists together before the annual MLK March & Rally sponsored by the Africa/African American Renaissance Festival.
It was also a way to honor Rustin, the openly gay activist who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and organized the renowned 1963 March on Washington. The addition of Audre Lorde, the iconic lesbian poet and author, came several years later.
As the years have gone by, the Rustin / Lorde breakfast, this year on Jan. 16, has grown to some 200 people in a standing-room-only crowd at St. Mark United Methodist Church with roundtable discussions on how to advance LGBT equality.
“People are having the opportunity to set a pronounced focus on what they want to see in social changes. This year we are looking at broad areas — HIV stigma, reproductive justice and gender justice, especially for transgender people who get hit the hardest,” says Craig Washington, who co-founded the breakfast with fellow Atlanta activist Darlene Hudson.
The breakfast’s mission has moved far beyond breaking bread before the march, Washington adds, and is now a place to cultivate leadership and stimulate others who are already doing the work.
“It also honors and fortifies the work for the rest of the year,” he says.
This year marks the centennial of Rustin’s birthday and Atlanta play a key role in celebrating the 100th anniversary of a man many LGBT advocates believe has not gotten the proper recognition in history because he was gay.
Bayard was the “ultimate organizer” and is a hero of LGBT equality who can’t be forgotten, Hudson says.
“People still don’t know who Bayard and Audre are within our own community,” Hudson says. “Bayard had the ability to bring all types of people together. I don’t know if King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech would have been heard around the world if it wasn’t for him.”
Both Washington and Hudson say the most impressive aspect of the breakfast is its diversity. Each year, the event brings various people from all backgrounds within the LGBT and straight communities together to discuss issues important to them over a warm meal.
“People come literally to the breakfast table to share and exchange ideas in conversation,” Hudson says. “I keep waiting for Obama to show up.”
MLK Weekend events
Wednesday, Jan. 11
Raquell Lord’s Main Event Talent Show Sign up at 8:45-9:45 p.m., showtime 10:30 p.m. Sophia McIntosh Fabulous 5+1 Showtime 11:30 p.m., Both at XS Ultra Lounge 708 Spring St., Atlanta, GA 30308 www.traxxatlanta.com
Thursday, Jan. 12
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra 20th anniversary tribute to Martin Luther King. Jr. with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Robert Spano, conductor, featuring Spelman College Glee Club and Morehouse College Glee Club 8 p.m. at Atlanta Symphony Hall 1280 Peachtree St. NE Atlanta, GA 30309 www.atlantasymphony.org
Wassup N ATL ‘I Am King Celebration’ 10 p.m. at Phase One 4933 Memorial Drive Stone Mountain, GA 30083 www.wassupnatl.com
MLK Weekend Kickoff ‘Turnt Up Thursday’ Doors open at 11 p.m. at XS Ultra Lounge 708 Spring St., Atlanta, GA 30308 www.traxxatlanta.com
Friday, Jan. 13
The Lion’s Den and Rockstars Production present International Male 2012 Kick Off mixer 7-10 p.m. at Einstein’s 1077 Juniper St., Atlanta, GA 30309 www.facebook.com/thelionsdenatlanta
Welcome to the ATL Southern Hospitality Mixer Doors open at 6 p.m., 21 and up No cover all night XS Ultra Lounge 708 Spring St., Atlanta, GA 30308 www.traxxatlanta.com
Wassup N ATL party at Mengo’s 10 p.m. 91 Broad St. SW, Atlanta, GA 30303 www.wassupnatl.com
The Inferno Dominican Republic & The House of Chapelle Model Search 6-9 p.m., free admission at XS Ultra Lounge 708 Spring St., Atlanta, GA 30308 www.traxxatlanta.com
Traxx Girls hosts The Secret Party presented by DJ M and Twee with beats by DJ Small Wonder featuring author Skyy signing her new book ‘Crossroads’ 10 p.m. at Club Rain 448 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. SW, Atlanta, GA 30312 www.traxxgirls.com
Wassup N ATL party at Justin’s 10 p.m. at 2200 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta, GA 30309 www.wassupnatl.com
The Man 2 Man MLK Weekend Bash and Hot Body Contest hosted by the Men of Dark Centaur 10 p.m. at XS Ultra Lounge 708 Spring St., Atlanta, GA 30308 www.traxxatlanta.com
Traxx Atlanta presents ‘The Movement’ and Traxx Atlanta’s 25th anniversary Featuring 2012 King Weekend Jaycette Competition 18 and up, doors at 10 p.m. 65 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE Atlanta, GA 30334 www.traxxatlanta.com