For the first time in five years, Vini Lata put on his red cummerbund. He was getting ready to go to the first winter prom held by the Southeast Alaska Gay and Lesbian Alliance.
"The last time I wore it was at my sister's wedding," said Lata in his black suit, red bow tie and red cummerbund. "I like to feel glamorous."
The alliance, which has put on other dance parties, held the first formal-attire prom Friday at the Back Room at the Silverbow Inn and Bakery.
"We chose this week because this is a week of glamor - the fashion week in New York and the Oscars," said Lata, the spokesman for the alliance. "In a small town like Juneau, people need an outlet to find people like themselves, let down their guards and have fun."
Lata said social events are especially important for single gay men and lesbians in Juneau because it's hard for them to find dates.
"Many people are already in a steady relationship," said Lata, who is single himself.
The prom attracted about 30 people, whose ages ranged from 19 to the 70s.
Disc jockey Mike, who declined to reveal his last name, selected a wide range of music to please the crowd. He started the night with Motown and Bonnie Raitt and moved to bands such as Chemical Brothers and New Pornographers.
"The idea is to start the night with some easygoing music so people have a chance to talk and catch up before they start dancing," Mike said. "As the night progress, we have more cutting-edge music for the young people. A lot of old members tend to leave early."
Many participants were surprised to see more men showed up at the prom. There were only six women.
"In the past, you saw more women than men," Lata said. "But many women have children and other responsibilities now. They don't go out to this kind of event very often."
The men showed up in great style and elegance. They wore black suits and ties. Some wore rose corsages. One man came dressed in a Scottish kilt.
Curtis Christensen, 27, had a button displaying two male symbols pinned to his tie.
"It's a gift from my boyfriend," he said.
Thomas Scott Duke, a professor at University of Alaska Southeast, wore an all-black outfit, accessorized by a thick gold chain holding a Buddha statue. As he shook his hips and waved his arms to the rhythm, his Buddha pendant glittered and fluttered against his black shirt.
"I came here to have fun," said Duke, who said his boyfriend of four years lives in Indonesia.
The cutest couple in the prom may have been Rachel Horton and April Hadley.
Horton, a tall, thin brunette, wore a black leather jacket. Hadley wore a white shirt, black suit pants, a black tie and suspenders. They said they belong to GLACIER, a gay and lesbian group at UAS.
"We got the suspenders from Fred Meyer. April got the black tie from the Salvation Army," Horton, 25, said. "Isn't she cute?"
They led people to do a limbo dance. Even the most timid ones got up and tried to dance under the stick.
At the end of the night, Lata was selected queen of the prom. Hadley was chosen king.
"I was shocked, but I am happy to be the first winter prom queen," said Lata wearing a pink crown and waving gracefully to the crowd.
I-Chun Che can be reached at email@example.com.
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