Detroit isn’t necessarily on everyone’s radar as a gay summer dance destination, but a non-profit organization is changing that. MotorBall, back for its second year, kicks off LGBT Pride Month with a weekend of events June 5-7, 2015.
After a nearly 11 year hiatus, MotorBall was resurrected in 2014 for a 20th Anniversary celebration. With a limited budget and a small group of volunteers, MotorBall 2014 was a success, raising nearly $7,000 for Michigan AIDS Coalition (MAC). Thrilled with the results, MAC reached out to the founders of MotorBall, Geared For Life (GFL), and brought the event into MAC’s portfolio of fundraisers, which provide much needed funds for outreach, education, and prevention services in Michigan’s HIV/AIDS community.
MotorBall’s history is rich and spans over a decade. Originally created in 1994, the “GEAR Party,” which stood for “Generating Education, Awareness, and Respect,” was held at The Majestic Ballroom in Detroit. “The first party was so fun and went off without a hitch – even after two power surges blew the circuits at The Majestic,” says Tracy Hoffman, one of the founding members of Geared for Life.
The first event raised more than $15,000 for area HIV/AIDS organizations providing critical services in the height of the epidemic. The following years continued to raise funds – $200,000 in total – until the event was retired in 2005.
The parties, in their heyday, were held at various venues throughout Metro Detroit and brought in major DJs, entertainers, and out-of-town supporters. Centaur Music even produced three albums for MotorBall in its Party Groove lineup. MotorBall’s storied and proud history as one of the great circuit parties in the US and included performances by DJs Susan Morabito, Paulo, Tracy Young, Julian Marsh, Manny Lehman, Teri Bristol, Billy Carroll, Chuck Arida, the late-great BUC, Alyson Calagna, Maryalice, David Knapp, and so many more who all spun at the event.
The current organizers of MotorBall are a mix of alum from years past and some new faces. Terry Ryan, CEO of MAC, says, “I’ve always cherished my memories and the friends I made at this event and am glad that we’ve been able to bring the MotorBall brand back.”
Eddie Mulak, MotorBall’s Event Director for 2015, remembers the first MotorBall and aims to bring the event back to its must-attend status. “Detroit it primed to host a world-class event for the LGBT community again. I’m proud to be entrusted with guiding this party back to a must-attend event.”
Joining the team again this year is Derek Zachariah, who originally became involved with Geared For Life and MotorBall twenty years ago. Asked to play a key role in last year’s Anniversary party, Zachariah also sits on the Board of AIDS Walk Detroit and is deeply involved with Michigan Greyhound Connection and other local non-profits. GFL founders and alum Tracy Hoffman and John Joanette join the team as consultants.
MotorBall kicks off in Detroit with its Opening Party 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, June 5
at Club Gold Coast with DJ Josh Karmin (Detroit/Toronto). MotorBall 2015 will be held from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. Saturday, June 6
at St Andrew’s Hall and The Shelter, featuring DJ Chris Spinazzola (Chicago), DJ Steve Dearborn (Detroit), DJ Lena (Detroit), and DJ Mike Trombley (Macho City/Detroit). MotorBall is an Official After-Party of Motor City Pride. To purchase tickets, and more information, please visit www.MotorBall.org