The 4th annual CMSA Membership Party for the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association is expected to draw a record crowd. More than 1,200 attendees will celebrate into the wee hours of the morning.
Dubbed Come Out & Play and scheduled to start at 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25 at Joe's on Weed Street, the CMSA Annual Membership Social Party is all- inclusive this yearthe previous three years, it has been a women's event.
Sam Hamilton, one of the founders and committee chair of the event, along with several CMSA board members, wanted to offer the welcome-mat to men this year. So the CMSA board asked for men, along with women, to form a committee.
The events' co-chairs are Hamilton and Todd Paulson, and the rest of the committee includes Patricia Robles, Edith Nieves, Jack Neilsen and Robbie Burton.
Neilsen, Hamilton and Burton are each members of the CMSA Hall of Fame.
Nieves, a teacher, had an integral volunteer role in the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago and was a co-chair of the Oct. 22 March on Springfield for Marriage Equality. Robles is a founder of Windy City Animal Foundation and a longtime animal-rights advocate.
"This [event will be] a really exciting night," said Burton, 45, who lives in Uptown and is a vice president at the Northern Trust Company.
The entire venue at Joe's will be dedicated to CMSA, including the front and back rooms, plus the upstairs bar area, Burton said.
"With the inclusion of men this year, we hope to have an even larger crowd with more integration and camaraderie among all CMSA members and their guests," said Burton, who plays four CMSA sports: volleyball, basketball, softball and flag football.
There will be free pizza for an hour, starting at 7 p.m., and the first 250 female and the first 250 male CMSA members will receive two free drink tickets.
"Joe's has been great at accommodating our party for the past three years," Burton said. "Joe's provided free staffing for the CMSA party and did not charge us to rent the venue on [a] Saturday, which is their busiest night. Their facilities include a main stage for our entertainers and speakers, over five bars to order from, food to order, and [the facility] can accommodate our 1,200-plus [expected attendees]."
Burton considers CMSA "a second family for me and [I] have formed some great friendships in my 20 years as a member of CMSA. This is one of those chances where I get to see all of my teammates and opponents, past and present, from different teams and leagues that you don't always get to see except when you are playing that sport together."
Libido Funk Circus, the headliner, performs over-the-top tributes to disco music of the 1970s as well as top hits from the 1980s through the present. Event organizers selected more than 40 songs for the party.
Also scheduled to perform: Devin Velez from American Idol, Katie Todd and Terri D'Mor.
There also will be karaoke.
"I know, after a few drinks, I should have been a professional singer … although my friends don't agree," Burton said. "Don't be surprised to see me belting out a Pet Shop Boys or Madonna song throughout the night."
The Chicago Force women's tackle football team, which won the 2013 national championship and features numerous out lesbians, including Sami Grisafe, Brandy Hatcher and Darcy Leslie, among others, will be selling its 2014 calendar ( $10 ) at the party.
There also will be a 50/50 raffle to raise funds for several charities, including Felines & Canines, Bring the Music Initiative, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and Centro Romero.
CMSA members get in free all night. Non-members pay $10, and 50 percent of the admission fee collected will be donated to the Bring The Music Initiative, a non-profit organization.
"This year will be extra special, with the passing of the marriage equality bill [in late 2013]," Hamilton said. "What better way of celebrating than to bring together both the men and women of CMSA? After all, it is about unity among all of us and it is a milestone for the LGBTQ community."
Joe's on Weed Street is located at 940 W. Weed. See www.facebook.com/events/546589128759065/ .