Red Party to Have French Flair

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This November, Salt Lake City’s Hotel Monaco will take guests down to old Moulin Rouge for a party filled with can-can girls, burlesque dancers and, of course, the iconic club’s spinning windmill for its 5th annual Red Party.

Held each year at the hotel (part of the gay and transgender-welcoming Kimpton Hotels & Restaurant group) to commemorate World AIDS Day, the Red Party is one of the biggest fundraisers for the Utah AIDS Foundation. The proceeds from the entire evening, from admission donations to raffle tickets, go to the organization, and the party’s donation has grown right along with its attendance. Last year, the party raised over $24,000 according to Shawn Jackson, Monaco’s Entertainment Guru.

Kimpton hotels around the country hold similar parties each year, with all funds going to local HIV/AIDS groups. Depending on how many hotels are in a specific city or region, the number of participating properties in an individual party may be one, or several. Hotel Monaco is the only Kimpton property in Utah, which makes its fundraising efforts in past Red Parties that much more extraordinary.

“[Last year] we were actually the Kimpton property that raised the most,” said Jackson, noting that the hotel raised over $24,000 for UAF. “We are hoping for $30,000 this year.”

Hotel Monaco also came within hours of raising the most money of any Kimpton property in the USA or Canada in 2007, but a “last minute donation of $5,000 from one person” put Washington, D.C. in first place, said Jackson.

“But we were still number one in our book,” he joked.

To help raise the $30,000, Monaco is enticing party-goers by taking them to the Moulin Rouge, the iconic French cabaret built in the late 1800s where the can-can dance was perfected. The club, frequented by celebrities such as painter Toulouse-Lautrec (who frequently made the cabaret, its staff and clients the subjects of his paintings), the Moulin Rouge has also been the subject of several movies, including an 1952 Zsa Zsa Gabor vehicle and, more recently, Baz Lhurmann’s wildly popular 2001 musical staring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.

Much like Lhurmann’s film, the party — titled Monaco Rouge! — will put a 21st Century and HIV-awareness twist on the fin de siecle club. On Nov. 12, the hotel’s second floor meeting space will be decked out in red, the color of HIV/AIDS awareness and remembrance.

“It will be Paris,” said Jackson. “AS you walk through there will hopefully be a big screen of the Moulin Rouge with the windmill turning, and hopefully we’ll be playing the [Lhurmann] movie as well.”

Since it could not be the Moulin Rouge without can-can dancers, Jackson said Utah’s premiere burlesque troupe, the Slippery Kittens, will perform the dance, which is a chorus line-style series of high kicks performed by female dancers dressed in 19th Century clothing — including petticoats and bloomers. The Kittens will perform throughout he evening, said Jackson, but gay men and straight women needn’t worry. There will be plenty of male eye-candy as well.

“Last year we used scantily clad go go dancers, but this year we’ll have about four gentlemen who will be shirtless and dressed in black slacks and shoes, with suspenders and bow ties, who will be selling boas and raffle tickets,” he said. “Well, I had to bring the men in!” Other acts Jackson is trying to book include contortionists and fortune tellers.

The raffle tickets the gentlemen will sell are for such prizes as round trips on Jet Blue Airlines and two night stays at a number of Kimpton properties. Guests will also have the opportunity to dine on beer courtesy of Squatters Pub Brewery (the event is still looking for a business to sponsor wine) and food by Hotel Monaco’s in-house restaurant, Bambara. While the menu is still in the works — though Jackson said it will likely have a French flair — one thing is certain: like the drinks, all of it will be red.

Entrance to this little bit of Paris on the Wasatch Front, as in years past, will be a suggested donation of $25. However, Jackson added that partiers can chose from three packages this year, some of which include valet parking.

Due to the party’s popularity and the extremely limited capacity of the space — which can only hold about 300 people — Jackson asks all attendees to répondez s’il vous plait by Nov. 9. They can RSVP by contacting Nathan Measom at Nathan@utahaids.org or (801) 487-2323.

Jackson said he hopes to see those 300 spaces fill up faster than a can-can girl’s legs can kick.

“It’s the fifth year, so it’s going to be bigger and better than last year,” he said.

Monaco Rouge! will be held at the Hotel Monaco, 15 W 200 S, on Nov. 12 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. For more information, or to inquire about sponsorships and larger donations, contact Jackson at shawn.jackson@hotelmonaco.com or (801) 990-9723.

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