The 2014 PRIDE LA Music & Arts Festival held June 6-9 in West Hollywood Park delivered on the promise of its promoters, Christopher Street West, that the event would feature “something for everyone.” A centerpiece of the festival was Thunderground, an outdoor rollerskating rink complete with a light show and mirror balls and pulsating disco music.
Many skaters graced the rink wearing their best circa-1970s Lycra leggings and fro wigs. Sponsor American Apparel helped set the dress code by giving away muscle tank tops and pink and white stripped Richard-Simmons short-shorts, while Delta Airlines offered free spray tans in two cabanas in the outdoor VIP lounge.
Other attractions included a pop-up arcade of carnival games, such a shooting gallery with a ping pong ball gun where you could “put your balls in Putin’s mouth” by aiming at a cut-out target of the Russian leader’s open mouth, and a variation on the water-dunk booth but with players breaking water balloons over each other’s heads.
There were lots of great giveaways from companies ranging from Just for Skin face creams Dyle, a new tech device that streams live TV to your mobile phone. Booths by Walgreens, Whole Foods and Arrowhead Water were just some of the mainstream companies represented. Bedsides the occasional nearly naked buff man in a tiny sling of a bikini handing out palm cards to the local gay men’s night club, the tone of this year’s festival seemed less focused on sex-related promotion than in previous years.
As a banner over Robertson Boulevard greeted, “Welcome to Our Family,” PRIDE indeed felt more about fun and community this year. After all, what’s more wholesome than a giant roller-skating rink with kids and parents skating around together hand in hand? This year I can really say, PRIDE made me proud.