SAN DIEGO -- Fat Tuesday is nearly upon us. The nation's most raucous and historical celebration takes place in New Orleans, but America's Finest City knows how to party, too.
Find a mask, add some glitter and get your beads ready because on Tuesday, March 8, the hardest choice for San Diegans is whether to party in Hillcrest or go crazy in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Mardi Gras in Hillcrest
The Hillcrest Mardi Gras Street Party has grown steadily over the years. More than 2,000 guests enjoyed the event in 2010, but attendance is expected to be huge for the 10th anniversary on Fat Tuesday.
The party takes place on University Avenue between First and Fourth avenues, from 6 to 11 pm. The festival will take place rain or shine.
Patterned after the annual celebration held in New Orleans, the local event is sponsored by the GSDBA Charitable Foundation and the Hillcrest Business Association. All proceeds from the street party benefit both organizations.
The festival will feature live entertainment, special guest performers and an exclusive VIP area. Food and drinks will be available for purchase from participating vendors and venues. Additionally, full liquor will also be served during the event. An array of other surprises, plenty of beads and various other party favors will also be part of the festive evening.
“We are particularly excited for this year’s event because the 2010 event exceeded all expectations,” GSDBA Charitable Foundation President Stampp Corbin said.
“We are planning a great event to commemorate 10 years of a wonderful street party in Hillcrest. We have some surprises up our sleeve for this year,” said Matt Ramon, Mardi Gras event coordinator.
It is also a more affordable option when compared to its Gaslamp rival.
Advance ticket price is $15 advance (or $20 day of) and $50 advance (or $75 day of) for a V.I.P. Pass which includes express entry, private reception area and private bathrooms. Tickets are available at the following Hillcrest area locations: Baja Betty’s at 1421 University Ave.; Urban Mo’s at 308 University Ave.; and Obelisk Bookstore at 1029 University Ave.
The Mardi Gras entertainment
The Viejas Main Stage headliner is none other than crassy, sexy, soulful and ballsy Wendy Ho.
You may have caught her hilarious antics on MTV’s Logo, or telllin' it like it is on Showtime’s "I Can’t Believe I’m Still Single!" Maybe you caught Jennifer Coolidge spoofing her on "Nip/Tuck" on FX? Never heard of her? Well, don’t miss the chance to see this up-and-coming gay icon who has drawn comparisons from Bette Midler to Lil Kim.
Equal parts dirty feminist rapper, soul singer and musical parodist, there’s something for everyone in her entertaining set.
Wendy Ho's 2011 Mardi Gras preview:
Other Viejas stage entertainers include Tootie and the Lips Girls. Spinning inside the dance tent is DJ phenomenon and martial arts expert DJ Kimberly S.
She explained her meteoric rise to the top of the DJ pack with a simple, “I’m strong, I’m hot and I can spin my ass off.”
Her legions of fans – including a bevy of some of Hollywood’s best known celebrities – agree. Each week, thousands of Kimberly S. enthusiasts converge to hear the black belt karate expert play at venues across America. She specializes in soulful house, pulsing tribal beats, trance and vocal club anthems.
She is also noted for her exceptional mixing skills and superior set programming and credits her martial arts experience with giving her the discipline to succeed as a DJ.
“I am a lover of house music in its purest form,” she said. “House and dance [music] integrates all different genres into its flow, and as a result, it enables people to feel an array of different emotions: joy, love, nostalgia, inhibition, passion … I want my sets to serve it all to my fans on the dance floor.”
Kimberly’s first circuit party was White Party Palm Springs, a party produced by Jeffrey Sanker. Today, Kimberly performs at some of the nation’s biggest parties including New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, One Mighty Party in Orlando, Miami’s Winter Party and Chicago’s Fireball.
DJ Kimberly S spinning at Ultra Suede in West Hollywood 9/19/2010:
Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp Quarter
As the largest Mardi Gras celebration on the West Coast, Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp has become a signature San Diego event, celebrating its 17th year in 2011.
With its distinct Southern California flavor, the festival embraces the tradition of Fat Tuesday with its own spin as a night of decadent indulgence in the heart of downtown San Diego.
The party kicks off at 6 pm and goes until midnight. The parade includes three entertainment stages, dozens of participating vendors and Incredible Masquerade Parade that begins at 9:30 pm and features over 20 floats, and an official King & Queen of the festivities.
Additionally, about 30 participating restaurants will offer party-goers a chance to enjoy a nice meal before consuming copious amounts of alcohol at a discounted price.
When you buy a Mardi Gras Dinner Package, you get entry to the festival ($20 value) and a $20 voucher toward a dinner entree at the location of your choice for only $30. Many of the places to chose from are right in the middle of the festivities and some have a quiet spot for you to relax. One great benefit is being able to skip past by the line of folks waiting to purchase festival tickets and getting in thru the "PRE-BUY FAST PASS" lane.
If you opt for VIP entry, the block party is just your warm-up route. Club VIP package benefits include: a ticket to Mardi Gras and the Masquerade Parade, six welcome shots, special parking discounts and no cover and VIP access to over 13 participating restaurants and clubs. General admission tickets are only $20 in advance and $25 at the door; attendees must be 21 years or older and have a valid ID to enter.
The Gaslamp entertainment
Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp has a reputation for being the most extravagant Mardi Gras celebration this side of the Mississippi because they feature a solid DJ lineup featuring some of the music industry's headliners, on three massive stages and themed zones. Additionally there is also roving entertainment and dance acts throughout the districtwide block party.
As the sun sets, and the dark takes over, Technovale will set the scene on Fifth Avenue from J to L Street, with some of the best electronic dance music (EDM) DJs and gravity-defying dancers.
Lee Burridge spins from 6 to 8 pm, followed by Sharam from 8 to 10 pm and featuring The Crystal Method from 10 pm to midnight.
The Crystal Method music sample:
One of San Diego's favorite dance crews, Kruccial Element, will take it back to the streets to the hottest house sounds at Urban House on Fifth Avenue from Market to J Street.
G-Roy kicks it off from 6 to 8 pm, followed by a two-hour set of DJ Risk One, and featuring DJ Scotty Boy from 10 pm to midnight.
Eye candy will cover Fifth Avenue from E to Market Street like pixie dust when Fairyland comes to life. Go-go dancers dressed as fairies and femme fetale DJs will electrify and delight. Completing the whimsical intrigue will be giant fairy puppets and artistic fairies on stilts.
Roxanne Dawn kicks it off at 6 pm, followed by DJ Rap at 8 pm, and featuring the "sexiest DJ alive" - DJ Colleen Shannon from 10 pm to midnight.
DJ Collen Shannon: