The city of West Hollywood played co-host to the 2nd Annual Go-Go Dancer Appreciation Festival Saturday night at Micky's in Weho.
The festival featured a go-go dancer competition in which six finalists performed onstage, with Volodymyr Shmycol taking home the crown of best go-go dancer.
More than 200 men and women were on hand for Saturday's festivities as Weho Mayor Jeffrey Prang, and Councilmen John Duran and John D'Amico, addressed the crowd about the significance of the Go-Go Dancer Appreciation Festival.
"We're a unique city and this is a unique event that you wouldn't see somewhere like the San Gabriel Valley," Prang said. "Go-Go Dancer Appreciation Day is a marketing scheme to help maintain the business scene on Santa Monica Boulevard. This program helps continue to promote the Weho business district."
"It brings out a lot of people and generates a lot of revenue, and tt keeps things current and vibrant," Prang added.
There have been questions floating within the community in regards to the city's decision to co-host and sponsor the event, including from some Patch readers.
The city often sponsors events such as AIDS Walk and the Toy Box Party, but the Go-Go Dancer Festival represents more of a party than a fundraiser.
D'Amico, credited with creating the festival, said that during his city council campaign, he realized there was a need in Weho for more gay male events, seeing as how Halloween Carnaval has steered away from simply a community celebration.
“For Halloween Carnaval, 300,000 to 500,000 people come to West Hollywood," D'Amico said. "Well, 25 years ago, it used to be about 500 to 3,000 gay guys who would get dressed up and walk up and down the streets. It’s since turned into what it is now.
“Many of us think that the Carnaval event has moved away from its original sense of community. When I was running, I heard that a lot from gay guys. They wanted to know what the city does for gay men. So when I got elected, I thought we could have Go-Go Dancer Appreciation Day on the Saturday before Halloween.”
The famous Halloween Carnaval will take place Wednesday night on the streets of West Hollywood, but similar to D'Amico, some residents feel the event has lost its local luster.
"I like this party because it's so much more intimate and close-knit than the [Halloween] Carnaval," said Jason Gutierrez, one local on hand for the festival. "The Carnaval is just too crazy. It's huge."
As far as its role in co-sponsoring the go-go festival, D'Amico explained that the city put no money towards entertainment, in the form of dancers or alcohol.
“The event itself is covered by the bars on that part of Santa Monica Boulevard," D'Amico said.
What the city does in support of the festival, according to D'Amico, is waive fees associated with closing down the street near Micky's and for providing public safety.
Providing public safety and waiving those specific fees saves the bars associated with the festival in the ballpark of $4,500, according to city officials.