March 29, 2012 | by Juliette Ebner
Cherry blossoms under new leadership

Cherry Fund board member James Decker. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Cherry and the Cherry Fund, which is now under new management.

The Cherry Fund has raised and provided about $980,000 in grants since its start in 1997 and 90 percent of that comes directly from ticket sales to Cherry, Washington’s trademark gay dance party. James Decker, a member of the Fund’s board, says this year’s goal is to raise $20,000, which could be double what was raised last year and would bring the organization over the $1 million milestone.

“There’s definitely something symbolic behind it,” Decker says of hitting that milestone on this anniversary. “That would be a significant achievement given the economy and a lot other factors, but there’s no reason why they couldn’t reach that goal.”

Last year’s beneficiaries were The Metro D.C. Center, Capital Pride, Us Helping Us, Whitman-Walker Health, Metro TeenAIDS, Pediatric AIDS/HIV Care, Women’s Collective, La Clinica del Pueblo, Youth Pride Alliance, Capital Trans Pride, Latino GLBT History Project (Latino Pride), API Queers United for Action and D.C. Black Pride.

“We try to spread the wealth,” Decker says.

This year’s beneficiaries will not be announced for another couple months.

“We get a lot of people from out of town,” Decker says. “That’s how the circuit works. A lot of people will just go from party to party.”

There are some new venues this year, including Phase 1 Dupont (1415 22nd St., N.W.), Ibiza Nightclub (1222 1st St., N.E.) and Warehouse Loft (411 New York Ave., N.E.).

While Fund organizers think the local DJs are great, they try to recruit those who don’t come to the D.C. area that often, making their events a bigger draw. There are many DJs who ask about participating and this year, all the opening DJs are volunteers.

Tonight’s (Friday) events start with a welcome center at No. 9 (1435 P St., N.W) from 5 to 9 p.m. followed by two events. There will be a women’s event at Phase 1 Dupont from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. and “Boys on Fire” with DJ Paulo from Los Angeles at Warehouse Loft from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. with DJ David Merrill (check out his Queery profile on page 32) spinning the opening set and DJ Bryan Yamasaki in the back room.

Saturday brings the “Moody Horror Picture Show,” a birthday celebration for party pioneer, Moody Mustafa featuring DJ Joe Gauthreaux from New York City at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) from 2 to 7 p.m.

Town is also hosting that night’s “Blossom” with DJ Mark Anthony from Montreal from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. DJ Timothy Mykael will provide the opening set. There will also be a special performance by Circuit Mom. Attendees are asked to wear red to this event.

The festival ends on Sunday with “Momentum” with Cherry alum DJ Alyson Calagna from Miami at Ibiza Nightclub from 4 to 9 a.m. with an opening set by DJ BennyK.

“She’s great, a real sweetheart and an awesome DJ,” Decker says of Calagna. “We’re honored to have her back.”

That will be followed by a brunch and tea dance at Cobalt from noon to 6 p.m. with DJ Tim e. The final event is “Ovation” with DJ Eddie Elias from New York City at Ultra Bar (911 F St., N.W.) from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. with DJ Sean Morris opening.

“They give us that club for the night,” Decker says of Ultra Bar. “They are very generous, very supportive of our event.”

Tickets for individual events range from $17 to $50. The 2012 Cherry Host Pass is $120 and includes entrance to all six major events, access to VIP lounge at Ibiza, goodie bag, complimentary day pass to VIDA Fitness, two-hour open bar at Sunday tea, T-shirt and CD, but it does not include admission to “Moody Horror Picture Show.”

For more information and to purchase tickets visit cherryfund.org.

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