Purple and pink hues of light splashed across the walls as aerialists, dancers and flaggers set the scene for One Night Stand, a music and dance party benefitting Chicago House Saturday night.
The event, held at the dimly-lit Park West, harkened back to the disco days of Studio 54 with thumping ’70s and ’80s dance tracks and special guest Linda Clifford — all to raise money for the organization, which provides housing and support services for individuals and families affected by HIV.
The event drew a crowd of around 250 attendees, and raised $20,000 for the organization, according to a spokesperson.
Co-creator and producer of the event, Keith Elliot, conceived the event with his friend Tony Sorvino, having both worked with special guest artist Linda Clifford. Sorvino worked a similar event in Nashville with Clifford called “Big Industrial” and was featured in one of Clifford’s music videos.
“Anything entertainment based around a fundraiser thrills me,” Elliot said.
Since Chicago House’s inception in 1985 as the first HIV/AIDS housing provider, the organization’s client base has escalated from 10 people to 1400 people. Chicago House has also expanded their programs, ultimately becoming a $5 million organization. The organization has also put an emphasis on its HIV prevention program and offers free testing.
One of the many people who has taken advantage of their services is current Housing Specialist for Chicago House, Arick Buckles. After accepting his own HIV diagnosis in 2005, Buckles found Chicago House as a safe haven, he said. Buckles volunteered at the One Night Stand event on his day off.
“Chicago House provided me with a place to call home when no one else would,” Buckles said. “They restored my sense of self-respect. My life has changed through the organization. I don’t rely on substance abuse, and I’m living with HIV and not dying. I’m encouraging people to live.”
Michael Rodriguez, a Board of Trustees member of Chicago House, expressed his own reasons for getting involved.
“Seeing all my friends living through it made me want to figure out what I can do to benefit,” said Rodriguez, a psychologist who concentrated his research on those affected with HIV.
One of the goals of the event was to bring in a younger audience.
“It’s better than going to a bar,” Michael Day, a supporter at the event. “You meet more interesting people and the money is going towards a good thing, not just for a drinking habit.”
The money gained from the event will go towards specific programs for Chicago House, including a new transgender housing project that will provide medical care and address the employment needs of those in the transgender community, making sure they have a stable income and are self-sufficient.
Clifford, performed classic favorites toward the end of the event. Having lost both of her brothers and many friends to HIV, Clifford has become an advocate and supporter of HIV and AIDS awareness.
Taking the stage to a highly energetic crowd, Clifford became emotional when talking about her experience with losing someone to HIV.
“I lost two brothers to this disease and I can’t count how many friends so when someone asks, ‘Can you sing to help find a cure?’ I will be there.”