What is the Red Dress Party?

It started as a party in the basement of a North Portland home and has become one of the most celebrated fundraising events in town.

75 friends attended our first Red Dress Party in 2001 — although we fully admit that the idea of the Red Dress Party isn’t new and was not ours. Red Dress Runs and Red Dress House parties happen in communities across the country. But something about the party was special, and it left us all wanting more. So we did it again on Super Bowl Eve 2002, and 150 guests join us for more fun and revelry despite the Winter Blast {minor snowstorm} that year.

Having established both interest and demand, organizers began to plan a bigger and better event in 2003 that would help raise money for our friends and neighbors who were living with HIV and AIDS, and for children who were affected by AIDS. Organizers of the popular Alley Productions summer parties offered their vacant grain silo loft warehouse, situated in industrial North Portland, and the Red Dress party was reborn as a community fund-raiser. 325 guests attended that year and organizers donated $3,200 to the Kid’s Connection Program at Cascade AIDS Project.

The 2004 party was dubbed Red Square and 575 patrons created a run on red dresses throughout the city in anticipation of the 4th annual event. Guests traveled from Seattle, Los Angeles, Vancouver B.C. and New York, and net proceeds totaled $10,000. $5,000 was donated to the Kid’s Connection Program at CAP, and $5,000 was donated to the Sexual Minority Resource Center (SMYRC).

For 2005, the party organizers formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and secured a larger venue, the Meow Meow Club (now known as the Loveland), a two-story live music venue in Industrial SE Portland. 1,118 guests attended the Red Light District with all the fun and decadence of Amsterdam, and raised $20,000 in proceeds for Our House of Portland and SMYRC.

Organizers chose the theme Red Planet for the 6th annual Red Dress, and 1,598 revelers participated in a party of intergalactic proportions held at the Kalberer industrial warehouse in NE Portland, and $23,000 was donated to three local charities — Our House of Portland, Camp Starlight and the Q Center.

In 2007 the theme was Velvet Rope a tribute to Hollywood glamour. Staged at a smaller venue in Industrial SE (AudioCinema), the sold-out event was attended by 1,025 guests and raised $26,000 for Q Center, Swan House, and Friends of People with AIDS Foundation.

Returning to the Kalberer Warehouse in 2008, organizers staged the biggest event in the party’s history — 1,950 party-goers took a Poseidon adventure on the Red Sea. For the first time, Red Dress featured a live concert courtesy of Storm and The Balls, and former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton was among the guests in attendance. $35,000 was raised for Esther’s Pantry, SHARE, and Outside In.

The 9th Annual Red Dress Party was dubbed Red Eye taking partygoers on a late-night flight to exotic places. 2,002 guests came to the BodyVox Dance Center in NW Portland and raised $30,000 for Esther’s Pantry, Senior Housing and Retirement Enterprises (SHARE), and Outside In.

Organizers chose the theme REDRUM for the 10th annual Red Dress Party, followed yearly by RED HOT, REDemption… End of Days, Red Handed,  Red Wedding, Red Top, Walking Red and in 2017 Red Queen! The event continues to be presented by Red Dress PDX, a charitable not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, which is managed by a 6-member board of directors and supported by an army of volunteers and donors.