Friday, June 23, 2006

Do Bears Dance in the Woods? Minnesota Bear Ball Debuts

Article published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #289, June 23, 2006)

PHOTO: DJ Corliss will be in Minneapolis for the Minnesota Bear Ball weekend.

During the weekend of July 7-9, the number of bear sightings in downtown Minneapolis will rise markedly. Bears from all over will be in town for the first-ever Minnesota Bear Ball. (For the uninitiated, the “bears” being discussed here are members of a gay subcommunity of easy-going and often furry men.)

A local bear group, North Country Bears, maintains a full calendar of monthly events and routinely attracts 150-200 bears (and their admirers) to its Bear Bar Night at Trikkx in St. Paul on the fourth Friday of each month.

In past years, North Country Bears also presented a summer Bear Camp, but last year’s event was cancelled, leaving an open spot on their calendar. This year that spot is being filled with the MN Bear Ball weekend.

Event organizer Chris Gores is working with the board of North Country Bears to organize the MN Bear Ball events. Gores has attended other bear events such as Chicago’s annual Bear Pride celebration, the International Bear Rendezvous in San Francisco, and Chumley’s Bear Cruises. The idea occurred to him that Minnesota should host this kind of event. “We have fun with the local crowd,” says Gores, “but we wanted to attract bears from other cities.”

The weekend’s events start Friday evening with an Italian Bear Lasagna Dinner. Friday night’s private UnderBear Ball at The Bolt (next door to The Minneapolis Eagle) will feature DJ Corliss playing “real music for real men.” Corliss Resor, who formerly lived in Minneapolis and won the “Mr. Bear Minnesota” title in the mid-90s, now lives in Las Vegas and is the proprietor of Personal Pop, his own custom DJ service.

Imagine a gay circuit party, but with bears on the dance floor instead of (or in addition to) circuit boys, and you’ll have an idea of the kind of atmosphere Resor intends to create. “Sometimes it’s a challenge to get bears on the dance floor,” Resor says, so he’ll be playing “more masculine music with more male vocals, more tribal and more sexual than the usual cookie-cutter dance music.”

Saturday’s events include a Wet Fur Pool Party. This event will be held at a private residence and swimwear will be optional.

The bear watching will be especially interesting Sunday afternoon during Bears-on-a-Stick—three hours of touring the Minneapolis riverfront riding a Segway scooter. The tour also includes refreshments at the Mill City Museum. Other Sunday activities are a Cigar and Boxer Barbecue at the Minneapolis Eagle or a Bear Salmon Run at Nami Sushi.

All proceeds from MN Bear Ball events (and a silent auction to be held as part of the weekend) will benefit Outfront Minnesota and the Minnesota AIDS Project.

For more information about events and pricing, or to register online for either the weekend package for individual events, visit <>.

Host hotel for the weekend is The Residence Inn at the Depot (425 S. 2nd St.). The hotel is within walking distance of most of the weekend’s venues. Rooms include free breakfast and free high-speed internet. Contact the hotel for room rates and availability.

The board of North Country Bears is assisting with the MN Bear Ball both by helping sponsor the weekend and by helping to provide volunteers for the event. If you would like to volunteer, please contact <>.

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