It Began in 2001
We originated the Red Dress Party with only 75 friends attending our first party. Red Dress Runs and Red Dress House parties happen in communities across the country, but something about this first party was special, and it left us all wanting more.
So, organizers did it again on Super Bowl eve! This time, 150 guests joined for more fun and revelry, despite the Winter Blast (minor snowstorm) that year.
Having established both interest and demand, organizers began to plan a bigger and better event that would help raise money for our friends and neighbors who were living with HIV and AIDS, and for children who were affected by AIDS. Organizers of the popular Alley Productions summer parties offered their vacant grain silo loft warehouse, situated in industrial North Portland, and the Red Dress party was reborn as a community fundraiser. 325 guests attended that year and organizers donated $3,200 to the Kid’s Connection Program at Cascade AIDS Project.
This year the party was dubbed Red Square and 575 patrons created a run on red dresses throughout the city in anticipation of the fourth annual event. Party-goers traveled from Seattle, Los Angeles, Vancouver B.C. and New York, and net proceeds totaled $10,000. $5,000 was donated to the Kid’s Connection Program at CAP, and $5,000 to the Sexual Minority Resource Center (SMYRC).
The party organizers formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and secured a larger venue, the Meow Meow Club (now known as the Loveland), a two-story live music venue in industrial SE Portland. This year the party became the Red Light District, with 1,118 attendees enjoying all the fun and decadence of Amsterdam. $20,000 was raised for Our House of Portland and SMYRC.
The sixth annual Red Dress party was known as Red Planet. 1,598 revelers participated in a party of intergalactic proportions held at the Kalberer industrial warehouse in NE Portland, and $23,000 was donated to three local charities: Our House of Portland, Camp Starlight and the Q Center.
This year was Velvet Rope, a tribute to Hollywood glamour. Staged at a smaller venue in industrial SE (AudioCinema), the sold-out event was attended by 1,025 guests and raised $26,000 for Q Center, Swan House and Friends of People with AIDS Foundation.
Returning to the Kalberer Warehouse, the RDP team staged the biggest event yet! 1,950 party-goers took a Poseidon adventure on the Red Sea. For the first time, Red Dress featured a live concert, courtesy of Storm and The Balls, and former First Daughter, Chelsea Clinton, was among the guests in attendance. $35,000 was raised for Esther’s Pantry, SHARE and Outside In.
The ninth annual Red Dress Party was dubbed, Red Eye, taking party-goers on a late-night flight to exotic places. Around 2,000 guests came to the BodyVox Dance Center in NW Portland and raised $30,000 for Esther’s Pantry, Senior Housing and Retirement Enterprises (SHARE), and Outside In.
Organizers chose REDRUM as the theme for the tenth annual Red Dress Party, followed by RED HOT in 2011, REDemption… End of Days in 2012, Red Handed in 2013, Red Wedding in 2014. In 2015, the circus theme Red Top was a hit, followed by the zombie-crazed, Walking Red in 2016. Each year benefiting the Portland Community, and getting bigger and better!
Party-goers followed the RDP board down the rabbit hole in 2017 for Red Queen, with numbers rising again to about 1,500. This was also our third and final year at the Freeman Factory Warehouse (pre-law changes) in NW Portland. We were able donate $20,000 to charities including Bradley Angle, Q Center and Let's Kick ASS.
There's no place like the Red Dress Party! In 2018, the RDP Board chose Wicked Red for the Oz inspired theme. Facing new, more stringent Fire Marshall and City of Portland rules, the group had to find a location that could hold a lot of party-goers, but meet saftey standards–– enter the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. While a bit more mainstream for the group, we were able to welcome over 2,000 guests! $19,000 was donated to Rock N' Roll Camp for Girls, Bridging Voices and Let's Kick ASS.
In 2019, the RDP Board chose Totally Red, a totally '80s experience for the theme. The board worked with the Veterans Memorial Coliseum to streamline things and make it even better than the year before. Again, we had over 2,100 guests at the party and donated over $22,000 was donated to Rock N' Roll Camp for Girls, Bridging Voices and Let's Kick ASS.
The event continues to be presented by Red Dress PDX, a charitable not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, which is managed by a volunteer-based board of directors and supported by an army of volunteers and donors.