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Sixth Bowiemas celebration a glam rock triumph
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Sixth Bowiemas celebration a glam rock triumph

by James Whitely - SGN Contributing Writer

Bowiemas
January 8
The Warehouse


On January 8, the birthday of David Bowie, 200 people gathered at The Warehouse, 3310 Wallingford Ave. N., for the sixth annual Bowiemas, a celebration of Bowie, glam, and community in honor of the Thin White Duke. Featuring male burlesque, over-the-top costumes, and a completely packed dance floor, Bowiemas was a night of drag, Bowie impersonators, and wonderfully excessive makeup.

"It's kind of a mock Christmas for David, a once-a-year holiday to celebrate the lord and savior David Bowie. You get festive and glamorous and dance all night," said Rose O'Kane, primary promoter and co-creator of the event.

Although the spelling of Bowiemas has changed over the years, it still remains the festive celebration it was since its inception. During its first three years, Bowiemas was still just a sprouting house party. For its fourth and fifth years, it was held in real venues, at the Warehouse and the Holy Mountain, respectively, but the party was still finding its niche.

Last year, the Holy Mountain saw a 500-person Bowiemas. "People weren't dressed up, and didn't really like listing to David Bowie," O'Kane told SGN.

Now, in its sixth year, the event has blossomed into a wonderful celebration of community. It's large enough to get crazy, yet still attached to its intimate roots, with a ticket cap of 200. "Having a set limit made the party much more enjoyable," O'Kane said.

"It's the first year in two years that we've had Bowiemas go past 12:30 or 1. In the past, it's gotten really rowdy and had to be shut down," said O'Kane.

The cops did show up around 1:30 a.m., apparently because of a noise complaint. "The Warehouse has a really good friendship with the cops," said O'Kane, "so we turned the music down and they left."

This was the first Bowiemas held on Bowie's actual birthday, January 8, and the first year the party had its own bar, sponsored completely by partygoer Mark Koziorowski, who appeared at the event in an unforgettable Iggy Pop wig.

Altogether, the event was much more organized than in previous years. "We had a really good team," O'Kane told SGN. O'Kane and friend Lyle Rose were, as O'Kane described, "the two head honchos." She went on to list off the many names of those that helped with the setup and planning of the party. "Last year, I got an ulcer because of how stressful it was. I'm so grateful to everyone this year," O'Kane said.

O'Kane, Rose, and drag chanteuse Phoebe Fondue served as the emcees of the party. At 12:00 a.m., the music was turned down and Rose led a midnight mass in honor of Bowie.

The story of the midnight mass begins the year before the first Bowiemas, while O'Kane was still in high school. "I had just discovered Bowie over the summer," O'Kane explained. "That year, me and Elaine [Jenkins, the other co-creator of Bowiemas] both totally geeked out on Bowie and listened to him all the time. We were in a world religions class together and we had to come up with our own religion and holiday. So we came up with Bowieism and created Bowiemas."

Bowieism is the belief that Bowie is a god. The idea is basically that the world will go through times that it will be sexually and ideologically repressive. When the need for a sexual revolution becomes apparent, Bowie will come to earth in human form and create and lead such a revolution. The idea being that the glam rock revolution was the most recent appearance of this heavenly entity that has come to be known, at least in this lifetime, as David Bowie.

Bowieism also has many other customs and beliefs, which O'Kane and Jenkins wrote down together in high school. This original "Bowie bible" still exists today. "If you die a Bowieist, you go to heaven and become a part of his massive sexual aura," added O'Kane, laughing. "[Bowieism] was basically just me and Elaine talking about how hot David Bowie is and how he's like a god."

Next year's Bowiemas is already in the works in its earliest stages. O'Kane and Rose plan to have the party at the Warehouse, and they're already coming up with fundraising ideas.

"It's become the holiday that is the most meaningful to me," said O'Kane. "It's nice to see people coming together to build it, and to celebrate it. It's nice to have that community, even if just for a little while."

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