Over the next eleven days before the big day on Saturday, May 21st, STEPS! will be sharing some of the major benchmark participants of Dance Parade and DanceFest 2011 to underscore how wonderfully diverse and allencompassing the events are becoming!
This year, we are proud to present an actual wedding during the parade–and it will be very unique! Tom and Zach will be exchanging vows at the start of this year’s festivities and spending the rest of the day disco dancing with their friends and family on their very own float! Wear hot pink on the 21st to show your support for Tom and Zach! Here is the transcript of the landmark interview!
How did you hear about Dance Parade?
We were out for a walk in May 2009 and just happened to come across it. We wondered what was going on and, as we were idly watching the parade, Zach was issued a citation by one of the Dance Parade officers for not dancing. It was a highly humiliating experience for someone who loves to dance as much as he does. That day we saw all the diversity in the parade and we knew we really wanted to participate.
Have you seen the parade before? participated in it?
2009 was our first time seeing the parade and this will be our first time participating.
How did you come up with the idea of getting married and having your reception/party take place in The 5th Annual Dance Parade?
We were engaged in 2009 and one night while we were sitting in Madison Square Park discussing fun ways to celebrate our marriage, Tom suggested that we have the ceremony in the Dance Parade since it would be a really different, unique way to celebrate. We knew our friends would love the idea, but we weren’t sure that our family would love it as much as they have so far expressed. In fact, the response from everyone, including the Dance Parade organizers, has been really exceptional. It’s made our decision to do this that much more rewarding.
Marriage between two men isn’t legal yet in NY, what type of ceremony will you be having etc.?
We were legally married in Connecticut in February in a simple civil ceremony. But, we have not yet exchanged our personal vows. So, while the legal aspect of our marriage is resolved [New York recognizes out-of-state same-sex marriages], we view our actual wedding as being celebrated in the Dance Parade. We will have a brief ceremony at the beginning of the parade to exchange our vows, followed by two hours of celebratory dance.
What should people expect from your presence in Dance Parade this year?
We have 100 of our friends and family dancing in the parade in a varied mix of pink wedding attire and carnival-like costuming. We are going to have a big hot pink wedding themed float that will be blasting dance music. We’ve been digging through our music crates looking for gems and our music will have a classic 90s house vibe, with wedding staples and some disco thrown in for good measure. It will be a very high energy float with a lot of silliness and camp and some very serious dancing!
Do the two of you have a background in Dance?
We both spent our early 20s dancing, as often as we could, in House and Techno nightclubs; Zach in St. Louis and Chicago, and Tom in Detroit and Chicago. We also spent a few years in the circuit party scene in the late 90s. Zach learned how to dance at Mexican weddings as a little boy and has a special place in his heart for Latin beats. Tom is obsessed with Harlem ball culture and loves voguing. So, while neither of us are classically trained dancers, we love to dance and love to watch people dance. Our friends and family share this obsession. So, all around, the parade is a perfect fit for who we are.
Why Dance Parade and not The Gay Pride Parade?
We didn’t set out to make a statement. We set out to celebrate our marriage in the most fun way we could imagine. While the Gay Pride march is the default position for anyone in the gay community to consider when celebrating a same-sex marriage, we saw the diversity in the Dance Parade and felt that we would feel just as much at home celebrating there as we would in the Gay Pride march. Of course, we are aware that anytime same-sex marriage is presented in public, it is a statement in itself for equal rights.
But, ultimately, this day is about us celebrating our love for each other along with celebrating our love for dance with our friends and family. The Dance Parade was just the right choice.
We do hope that we might allow at least one person who might be on the fence about removing legal restrictions to same-sex marriage to see that all we want to do is to love each other and be treated as fairly and equally in the eyes of the law as opposite sex couples. We hope they see our family dancing in our wedding, the diversity represented in our group, and the love we are celebrating for one another and remember that we are human beings just like them.
We heard that you’re going to have your friends dress in pink and dance to disco music the entire length of the Parade…is this true?
Yes. Our wedding color is hot pink. It really is just about having a really colorful time and we thought it would be fun to play on the stereotype of gay men wearing pink. Hot pink is the manliest color we could think of and it is a great contrast against Manhattan’s often grey and gloomy canyons.
We will play disco music, but unless you are of a generation that associates all club music with disco music, you will find more diversity in the genres of dance music we will be playing. There will be a few wedding staples mixed in and we’ll be doing a special performance at the grand stand at Cooper Square. We hope the grand stand performance will inspire the crowd to join us in a sort of spontaneous flash mob.
How would you feel about people wearing pink to show their support for the two of you in this magical endeavour?
We would love to see lots of pink in the crowd or even in the parade. It would really warm our hearts, and probably our friends and family’s too, if something like that happened.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We want to thank the organizers of the Dance Parade for putting on such a unique and diverse event every year and for being so welcoming of us into this year’s parade. We also want to express our love to our family for being here in New York for this occasion and for making this public display of our love that much easier to express. We want to thank our friends for being here with us and we hope they appreciate this event as a gift to them for all their years of love and support.