"It's raining men?" More like storming.
Organizers for Gay Days in Orlando expect 170,000 guys (and girls) ready to shout out loud at this year's celebration tailored to all colors in the lifestyle rainbow. That's a step up from last year's crowd of more than 160,000 and a far cry from the roughly 3,000 members of the gay, bisexual and lesbian community who first stormed Disney World's Orlando parks for a single day in June 1991 in a red-shirted display of solidarity and fun.
Today, the event founded in Orlando more than two decades ago is a party that stretches nearly a full week — and far beyond any theme-park's borders. It's the final weekend of this year's celebration, but there's still plenty of Gay Days-related festivity to be had ("official" and otherwise), no matter what your proximity to the parks.
If you're staying at the host hotel for Gay Days, the party is right outside the door. The Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld (10100 International Drive, Orlando) has a full schedule of in-house events, including daily pool parties. The highlight of those will be Saturday night's bash featuring a DJ set by the notorious ChiChi LaRue from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. at the main lagoon pool ($30 advance, $35 at the door, or free for hotel guests). The Doubletree also features a night of comedy from "Love Goddess" Judy Tenuta in the Great Lakes Ballroom at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $35 advance, $40 at the door for that show — worth it for the accordion solos alone.
Closer to Disney grounds, you can find more poolside shenanigans at Downtown Disney's Buena Vista Palace Hotel (1900 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista). "Reunion" pool parties are a core highlight of "One Mighty Weekend" events at that hotel, starting at noon each day through Sunday. Tickets for those parties are $20 today and $30 Saturday or Sunday and feature beats by the likes of DJs Mike Cruz (today) and Roland Belmares (Saturday). For tickets and details, head to onemightyweekend.com.
Also at Downtown Disney, ladies live large at Boogie Wonderland, a signature party of the "Girls in Wonderland" arm of Gay Days. This disco-themed soiree features local burlesque favorites Baby Blue and Spikey Dikey, live music by rockers Hunter Valentine (of Showtime's "The Real L Word"), and a red carpet appearance by Jessica Clark, also known as Lilith to fans of the HBO series "True Blood." The party begins at 9 p.m. Saturday at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney, and tickets are $26 advance, $31 at the door, available at girlsinwonderland.com.
Back on I-Drive, dive into the multicolored mess at two special editions of DRIP's dance/rock show. The venue at 8747 International Drive will hold a show for men at 8:30 and 11:30 p.m. today and one for women at 8:30 and 11:30 p.m. Saturday, featuring tailored versions of its already sexy performance art plus a Gay Days visual art gallery on display. Dress casual — as with any DRIP show, the flying sand and water are part of the fun. Tickets are $35 general or $43 with a T-shirt package for either show; check out ILoveDRIP.com for details.
No Gay Days would be complete without a visit to the Parliament House (410 N. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando). Gay Days goes out strong at Orlando's best-known gay resort, thanks to big-name concerts by Belinda Carlisle on Saturday ($30 admission) and Erasure's Andy Bell with Kat Deluna on Sunday ($20 admission, or $10 before 6 p.m.). For details and tickets, head to parliamenthouse.com.
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Gay Days 2013
For details on official Gay Days events throughout Orlando, check out GayDays.com