World AIDS Day has been observed on the first day of December ever since 1988, which makes Saturday its 30th anniversary.
The day is dedicated to raising awareness of a pandemic that has taken an estimated 37 million lives as of 2017, and for which there is no cure. In Colorado, concern about HIV/AIDS may be fading, but the number of diagnoses hasn’t fallen.
“Public worry about HIV and AIDS has diminished as the disease is seen as more manageable with new therapies,” Melanie Mattson, chief of the STI/HIV/VH branch of the Colorado State Health Department, has said. “But we’re still seeing some 400 new cases each year. That has not changed a whole lot.”
How to approach World AIDS Day, then? You might say it requires a delicate dance.
“Do we celebrate it, or should we be somber? It’s a conversation that many, many people have,” said a person who works with people living with HIV/AIDS in this state. “Finding a way to both celebrate and commemorate — we all talk about that challenge.”
On Saturday, the Telluride AIDS Benefit (TAB) will mark the day two ways: with a literal dance, and with personal stories of empathy and compassion. Both events will take place — perhaps appropriately, given that this is a disease society continues to struggle to be free of — at The Liberty, beginning at 8 p.m.
“We’ll start with Twenty by Telluride: The World AIDS Day Edition” said Sarah Gluckstern, TAB’s new executive director.
The fast-paced slideshow “works out to about six minutes for each presenter,” according to Gluckstern. “Each person gets to tell their story, and describe their relationship to HIV and AIDS. I hope, and expect” the stories will be both personal and poignant.
Presenters will include Gluckstern; Doug Ford, who is new to Telluride, is a member of TAB’s board and has worked on a number of fundraising boards, including the Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS, AIDS Walk Atlanta, Joining Hearts and more, according to TAB’s website; Ryan Garcia, who is with Planned Parenthood of the Rockies’ HIV program in Durango; and “seamstress extraordinaire and all-around-amazing person” Luci Reeve.
Admission is free; and the program will be suitable, and inspirational, for all ages.
“After that, at around 9 p.m., the Liberty will turn into a dance party,” Gluckstern said, featuring DJ Beatrix Kiddo “spinning a mixture of disco, hip-hop and funky beats.” The $10 cover charge will be a donation to TAB.
There will also be art for sale at the Liberty, by young patients (or their parents) of the Children’s Hospital Immune-Deficiency Program, a TAB beneficiary.
“A lot of people are familiar with CHIP,” Gluckstern said. “We used to sell their art at the auction program during Fashion Gala weekend.”
Speaking of the Gala, tickets for one of Telluride’s most sought-after seats of the winter go on sale at 8 a.m. Saturday on TAB’s website.
“We just announced our creative team for this year,” Gluckstern said. “Our art director is Katy Parnello. She’s an artist who does these beautiful light-and-wood sculptures around town, some of which were at the Transfer Warehouse. She’s been our art director in years past. This marks an exciting homecoming and return for her.
Our choreographer is Jamie J, who’s based in New York City.” The fashion gala, she added, “Always sells out eventually, just not on day one.” That said, “A lot of people buy tickets the first day. We encourage you to do it, because this way you get the seats of your choice.”
To learn more about TAB and its programs or to make a donation, visit tellurideaidsbenefit.org.