Mark Nelson’s Great Adventure
Fairgrounds 'Out @ Night V' A Benefit for Heritage of Pride
Written by Jeffery Taylor
Mark Nelson is no stranger to the party scene. Since 1987, he has been producing and promoting events. But it wasn’t until 1998, when he left his position as manager of Splash Bar in New York City, that it became his full-time job. “Why not get paid to party?” Mark thought to himself.
Mark Nelson Events has been involved with such legendary parties as Saint at Large’s Black Party, Junior Vasquez’s “Earth” parties, and Heritage of Pride’s “Dance on the Pier.”
He also produces a weekly newsletter, “Mark Nelson Events,” that gives the 411 on anything and everything gay in the Big City. “I used to be so cracked out when I first started rambling that thing out eight years ago from my AOL account. God…” says Nelson, who’s open about his past bad habits. “Now it’s been a weekly discipline for me to do since 2002. It’s part of my sobriety and also a sort of balancing act for me to stay focused and clear.”
On Friday, September 19, Mark Nelson Events and Heritage of Pride present the 5th Annual Fairgrounds “Out @ Night,” to take place at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey. The park, which usually only operates on Saturdays and Sundays after Labor Day, opens its gates at 6 p.m. for this exclusive private event for GLBT friends and family.
Last year, over 8,100 people came from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and D.C., making Fairgrounds “Out @ Night” the largest private standalone GLBT event in the USA. The event raised over $100,000 for Heritage of Pride, which produces the annual New York City Pride Week.
Heritage of Pride is a wholly volunteer-managed, non-partisan, tax-exempt, not-for-profit corporation that organizes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pride events in New York City to commemorate and celebrate the Stonewall Riots.
noiZe: How did “Out @ Night” get started?
Mark Nelson: After going to Gay Days in Orlando for a few years, I thought, why can’t we do this in NYC? I approached Anthony Dean of Heritage of Pride to see if there was interest in his organization to have another fundraiser, as I was doing the entertainment for the annual Pier Dance.
Another reason that got me going to do this was that I was getting sober, and when I analyzed why I would or had done recreational drugs, it was because I was bored. I needed something to get my attention and thrill me… like a rollercoaster!
Who else works with you to put this event together?
I still work with Anthony Dean on this event, as well as Phil Mannino, Theary Chan, Rick Harper, Gage Kristopher of Twisted Life, and volunteers from Heritage of Pride. It’s a small-man operation that works.
But as no one can do anything alone, we have opened up the promotion to New York’s finest promoters/producers, like Alan Picus, Michael ‘Formika’ Jones, Ray DeForest, Max Scott, Brad Hurtado, Jill Potter, Yamil X, Nathan H. Williams, Nathan ‘Seven’ Scott, Joe Fiore, Don Turner, Akash Abraham, GayOrbit.com, and BoiParty.com
How late is the park open?
This year we will stay open until midnight.
Are all the rides open, or only a select few?
All rides will be open!! And I might even carry a few cuties on my back, if necessary!
For Gay Days at Disney World in Orlando, people wear red shirts to show their support for the GLBT community. Is there any kind of “dress code” for this event?
I didn’t want the GLBT community having to wear red tops to show who they were. I thought that was sort of tired. We needed an event that was private and gave us the entire park for our enjoyment. No need to make statements to the general public.
What about carless New Yorkers?
We have reserved ten big Greyhound-type buses to leave from Greenwich Village at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon. They will start to return to NYC at 11 p.m. Unfortunately, the cost looks like it’s going to be $40 R/T (last year it was $30).
What makes Fairgrounds “Out @ Night” so special?
This is one of the most diverse GLBT crowds you will ever see. It’s truly amazing to see everyone smiling and carrying on. People are there to enjoy their freedom of expression and get some handholding time with the one they love (or just met). The park loves this event, and the staff looks forward to it all year long.
So, round up your friends and head over to Jersey on September 19th to ride the coasters, experience the thrills, and take in the ultimate outdoor dance experience at the largest Six Flags in the country. Tickets go on sale August 1.
For more information about Fairgrounds ‘Out @ Night V’ or to sign up for the “Mark Nelson Events” newsletter, visit www.marknelson.biz.
Damn, ur fuckin sexy!
By Atlantaboy on 08-05-2008