Last Year at Villa Vizcaya

The annual White Party Week in Miami, produced by Care Resource, has announced their theme for the November 24-29 series of events. Cirque du Monde, which means Circus of the World, will honor the vibrant international community that descends upon Miami each year for the event.


WhiteCare Resource insists the White Party is not a ‘circuit party.’ The group contends it is a chic, extremely elegant event, complete with dining and cocktails, which just happens to have great DJs and legendary dancing on the grounds of the Villa Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, once a 1920’s bachelor bad for James Deering.

When touring the museum, there is no mention of a “Mrs. Deering,” so perhaps it has been an appropriate place to hold White Party events for the past decade. After all, Mr. Deering’s male ‘decorator’ and ‘travel companion’ did live in the house with him, ahem.

The organizers of the party – which has been going on for some 26 years – looks forward as usual to invite the world to the Magic City. That will never change. The organization has – through Pandora Events for Women – done a lot of outreach to incorporate the L in LGBT so that they participate in the event as well.

However, the party that started at the height of the AIDS epidemic will change its venue for 2011.

“This will be our last year at Villa Vizcaya,” said Wade Patterson, Director of Finance and Resource Development with Care Resource. Patterson has been with Care Resource for the past 12 years. “It was basically a financial decision. The cost structure got to the point where the rental of the villa approached $50,000. We felt that this was way too expensive and it was becoming a fundraiser for Vizcaya, not Care Resource. So, we decided to reevaluate.”

WhiteAs reported in SFGN, many AIDS healthcare groups have had budgets slashed. Vizcaya – a popular destination for weddings and both private and corporate events – is a county-owned museum. They were also recently warned that they might lose their American Association of Museums membership if events were not reduced.

For both organizations, it seems a prudent move to plan on a less expensive venue for 2011. In addition to financial incentives to move from Vizcaya, other factors have forced Care Resource to think of an alternate location.

“We need to reinvent the actual party too,” said Patterson. “To reach out to a younger demographic that isn’t coming to the White Party. Twenty years ago the bar and club scene was the social scene within the gay community, that’s where people were going. However, that has changed over the years, and the crowds are much more diverse these days. So, to appeal to a broader demographic, we are going to try and engage local colleges, especially gay fraternities.”

In addition to styles, causes important to the gay community have changed. While HIV is still certainly an issue, many younger men have not lost countless numbers of friends to the disease, so they do not feel as affected by it. Secondly, a multiplicity of other issues, such as same-sex marriage and employment benefits impact gay men and women. There are more causes to donate time, energy, and – ultimately – money towards.

“The success of the overturn of Proposition 8 in California is a milestone. That didn’t come about for free, though. People had to donate funds to support that cause,” said Patterson. “However, seeing this activism, we can look towards it, and expand it so we can get the younger generation to understand the impact of AIDS.”

Wherever the White Party winds up relocating to in 2011, it should do so successfully. “It is still a centerpiece event for the gay community,” Patterson noted.