With the continually growing scenes we have here in Utah, the once all-too-true notion of "everyone knowing everyone" in "Small Lake City" is slowly becoming a harder task to obtain. Comparatively, where we were as a community in art, film, theatre, music, nightlife, press and all points along the way just five years ago has expanded significantly. Making it an uphill climb for anyone in local entertainment to keep track of those coming and going, let alone what's happening at the moment. Which is why the party we're going to talk about today has taken on such an important role for those wanting to be "in the know".
--- The White Party kicked off back in late 2001 as a private house party catered to SLC's rising entertainment community. Over the years its grown under two different leaderships to become one of the hottest tickets every year, as guests button up their finest whites, hit the dance floor and acquaint themselves over a night of festivities and music. Now with this Saturday's event marking the official tenth anniversary, its only fitting that the party fall back into its original founder's hands and be reborn into an all-night gala with several DJ's, a massive list of events and unexpected surprises in store.Today we chat with Rebecca Joy Raboy, original host and founder of La Rouge Entertainment, about her career in dance and theater, starting up her own company, the party itself, and thoughts on the local entertainment scene as a whole.
Rebecca Joy Raboy
Gavin: Hey Rebecca! First off, tell us a bit about yourself.
Rebecca: Well hello there Gavin and Salt Lake City readers! My name is Rebecca Joy Raboy and I am a double Scorpio. I just turned 30 on November 7th, I’m a singer and dancer, and I am absolutely in love with life... ha ha ha, if only it were that easy! To be honest, I’ve never been interviewed like this before, so you may have to guide me along the way. Let’s see, it all started in 1980 where I was born at home in West Haven, CT. The first three people to see my face were my Father Robert Raboy, my Grandmother Didi, and the midwife. I greeted my mother Michele Evans with 48 hours of natural labor. Aren’t I sweet? (“Love you mom!”) in 1985 my mother and I moved to Kapaa, Kauai, where I finally got my wish and became a big sister!! My beautiful baby sister Brittany Evans was born in 1988 and that was definitely the happiest day of my life! In the summer of 1988 my family and I then moved to Salt Lake City which I now call home and always will. I graduated from Cottonwood High School in 1998 after being involved in Cheerleading and Dance Company all three years and developing those “know it all” skills that made me fall on my face a bunch over the last decade of my life. I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about. Now, having all those bounce back muscles I gained over the years, I’m finally a thirty year-old woman getting ready to set forth on the next decade of adventure, creativity, love and success!! I consider myself a professional entertainer. I’m currently dancing with the VooDoo Darlings, and I recently started my own performing arts company: La Rouge Entertainment. With dance being the most important thing I’ve ever discovered about myself, it has led me on a very exciting journey. So with that being said, shall we?
Gavin: Sure! What first got you involved with dancing, and what were some early influences on you?
Rebecca: I've been dancing since the beginning of time. My mother mentions a fond memory of me pulling myself up on the side of my playpen, before I could even walk, shaking my hips to the beat of music playing in the house. Hehe! Dancing is the source of JOY in the depths of my soul. It’s what I was born to do.
Gavin: What made you formally decide to pursue a career in dance and performance art?
It was never a decision that had to be made. If I couldn’t
entertain, I wouldn’t be the person I was meant to be; it just
wasn’t a choice. As a child, I spent a few years
of my life in Kapaa, Hawaii. My first style of dance was Hula at the
age of six. After moving to Salt Lake City around the age of nine, I
auditioned for a performing arts company called Clayton Entertainment
Studios. I was a singer and dancer with their studio for many years,
even after they changed management and became Thompson Lane
Entertainment. I traveled to places such as Las Vegas and Walt Disney
World Florida singing and dancing before the age of thirteen, so I guess
you could say, pursuing a career in the performing arts has always
been my destiny.
Gavin: Aside from prior high school programs, did you seek out any college or formal training before moving onto professional dance?
Rebecca: I have been training all my life, studying many different styles over the years and working non-stop since I was a teenager. It wasn’t until I moved to Las Vegas that I actually got my first rejection. Needless to say, I never really felt that a college education in dance was going to further my success. Instead, I’ve just put my best foot forward, lived fully in every moment I’ve manifested for myself, and away I went!
Gavin: You started out doing shows for Club Axis and Dance Attractions. What was it like for you starting out for two very different companies and learning the ropes as you went?
Rebecca: At the age of sixteen, I was offered a teaching job at Dance Attractions. It was a great to teach, but very difficult. I was usually teaching students that were almost the same age as me, so you can imagine what type of pressure that created. Teaching, however, was an inspiration. It allowed me to involve myself more with choreography and through it I gained a new love from watching students learn something I helped create. What a feeling!! As the years went by I started choreographing competition routines and traveling up to Rock Springs, Wyoming every other weekend to teach private classes. Yeah, I know... Rock Springs you ask? Well turns out the kids didn’t have the option of learning dance because there weren’t any dance teachers in Rock Springs, so Dance Attractions ran a studio there for about two years. I adored all of my students, which made it a spectacular adventure. By the time I turned twenty-one, I was a full-time back-up dancer for the Drag shows at Club Axis every Friday night. What an amazing experience!! They treated me like a little Barbie Doll. Being a regular, I was passed around between drag queens. I’d sometimes perform for multiple queens in one evening. My favorite piece was with Nova Star and her sixty pound boa constrictor that was wrapped around my body as I danced. Talk about exciting!! Being that the two experiences were such different sides of the performing arts world, looking back, I was really just broadening myself to prepare for what was to come.
Gavin: At the time you also got into musical performances at Hale Center Theater. Was that more of a natural progression for you, or did you view it as another challenge to take on?
Rebecca: I went to see Seven Brides For Seven Brothers with my mother and sister in 1999. I was eighteen. I told my mother at intermission that I belonged on that stage. I auditioned for the next musical which was Joseph & The Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat, and I got the job! It turned out I was the only “new" cast member to Hale Centre Theatre for that particular show. That most certainly created some frustrations and challenges, feeling like an outcast was very difficult; but I embraced the change of atmosphere and ended up doing nine musicals in a row, which was about five years of working for Hale Centre Theatre. Then, I spread my wings and left for Las Vegas!
Gavin: Over the years you've been a part of several organizations and performances. What would you say was your all-time favorite to be a part of so far?
Rebecca: Wow, now that’s a very difficult question to answer. I really don’t know if I have a “favorite”. I love being diverse in all that I’ve done, all that I’m doing, and all that I will do. My favorite thing in the world to do is entertain. Whether that’s dancing, singing, acting, choreographing, teaching, planning, etc... I believe until the end of time, the world will need entertainment. I will be a part of that, until death do us part!! Yes, I’m in love!
Gavin: Currently you're with the VooDoo Darlings, how has it been for you being a part of that troupe?
Rebecca: I love being a VooDoo Darling, Miss Joy de Vive! The women I get to work with are beautiful, smart, talented and absolutely lovely to be around. I feel I get to express a side of myself that isn’t really available outside of the troupe. Believe it or not, I take off more clothes with the VooDoo darlings, than I ever did in the five years of working on stage in Las Vegas. Might I add, I really don’t take that much off with the VooDoo Darlings either. (No worries Mom and Dad!) I take pride in being a classy woman, and the troupe itself as a whole is very classy. Even though I’m just arriving in my 30’s, I enjoy being a part of something sensual and sexy with the class and elegance of 1940’s burlesque. It makes me feel young and alive!
Gavin: How did you officially start up La Rouge Entertainment?
Rebecca: La Rouge Entertainment is my baby. It’s a company I’ve been dreaming about for a few years now. After laying in bed night after night, year after year, thinking about it, the time came for me to get my vision on its feet. I wanted to create a performing arts company that took pride in making every artist involved with it, feel respected and appreciated. After spending the last ten years working professionally in the business, I am finally at that place in my life where I’m done working for companies who don’t appreciate me. It’s very frustrating and makes you feel unaccomplished. When you work for people who care about you and express appreciation for the love you put into the work itself, you feel on top of the world! I want to work with entertainers who love what they do, and in turn they should feel loved for doing it!! La Rouge will be doing auditions in February of 2011, looking for all kinds of talent that will be working on events, functions, gatherings, weddings, corporate parties, cruise ships, tours, etc.. To all you readers: If you are an entertainer, please stay posted and connect with us at La Rouge on Facebook.
Gavin: This year marks the official tenth anniversary for the party. Tell us a bit about what you have going on and what people can expect to see.
Rebecca: This year I’m challenging myself by changing the face of the White Party. Not only is it going to be the beloved party that Salt Lake City is getting their WHITES ready for, it’s going to be “An Event to Remember”. My goals for this year’s event are as follows: Keeping everything local, utilizing the phenomenal talent we have in Salt Lake City, going green and using Reduce, Reuse, Recycle as our motto, giving back and creating community sustainable awareness, donating proceeds to local organizations, having live and local entertainment all night long, supporting local artists/vendors, and having a spectacular time in the process!! The evening begins at 8PM! The bar will be turned into the “Buddha Lounge,” where we will have our DJ’s, Eben Flow, Brent Vincent, Ian Prowess, 8-Bit, Namaste, Drew Latta, Will from Brazil, and Sektor 7 mixing some deep house music. This will be a great time to mingle, enjoy a few drinks, have some appetizers, and take some professional photos with our local photographers before the night takes flight. At 8:45 an African Tribal performance will welcome all the guests into the main room. This will allow people to start letting the energy flow and warming themselves up for what’s ahead. At 9PM our first DJ starts, the sets will be three DJ’s back to back, each playing 30 minutes of house music. This will keep things diverse and dynamic, and of course there will be other entertainment happening on top of the DJ sets all night long.
Rebecca: At 10:30 our Eco-Friendly Fashion show will start, and will include fashion artists Kimiko Riley and Alekkai Bray, Dreamland Side Show, Omega Elemental, Kelli Lynn Baker, Barbarella, Gracie Reitz, Peanut Butter Designs, Elkfish Leather Works and TNT Fashionistas. All of these fashion designers are creating a piece specifically for the white party out of reused and/or recycled materials. Some of them will also be selling those items in the Buddha Lounge throughout the evening! Directly following the fashion show we are going to be graced with the pleasure of seeing the following performance art companies from our local community: Tablado Flamenco Dance Co., Transfusion Hype, DF Ballroom Dance Studio and Ka Lama Mahalo Hawaiian Dance Co. 11PM will start another set of three DJ’s. This set includes a special tribute to an amazing DJ that graced our city with his music. A dear friend of mine and so many others, DJ Stephen “Bam Bam” Santoro will be celebrated. We will be playing a set he recorded live at Bricks in 2001 (before it was Club Sound) while showing pictures of his incredible life and friendships. 12:15AM kicks off yet another amazing set of local performance art companies, and it gets a little steamier. Including: VooDoo Darlings Burlesque, Miss Gay Utah “Lolita Steele”, Bboy Federation, Studio Soiree Pole Dancing and Fire Muse Circus Aerialists. And, wait... there’s MORE!! On-top of the endless amounts of entertainment going on through-out the evening, we have some special guest artists that will be featured that evening, including: Sunny Strasburg, Derek Dyer, and Tempest Clothing Store to name a few. Also, Enviro Life will have displays for the guests full of facts and detail as to why we’re going green and how an event like this can make such a difference!! It’s truly going to be, “An Event to Remember”
Gavin: How can people join in the party?
Rebecca: Tickets are on sale at TicketLeap.com. They are $25 online and $30 at the door. I would like to invite everyone reading this article to save some money and come join the celebration of this year’s 10th Annual White Party Event by going to TicketLeap.com, search White Party, use: slcweekly as the discount code and save $5 off each ticket!!
Gavin: Going state-wide for a bit, what's your take on our local entertainment communities, both good and bad?
Rebecca: I think we have a lot of great talent state-wide. Shows such as "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Dancing With The Stars" have used many talented dancers from Utah. We’ve got a bunch of local bands that have made something of themselves, such as: Big Bad Voodoo Daddies, Royal Bliss and The Mis-fits. We’ve got amazing talent that keeps us entertained at places such as: Dark Horse Theater Co., SLC Acting Company, Egyptian Theater and Off Broadway to name a few. And if all this wasn’t enough, we should mention all the different cultures we have available for people to get involved in such as: Hawaiian, Flamenco, African, Belly Dancing, Salsa, and so much more! Utah has so much more diversity than people who aren’t from here might think. When I lived in Las Vegas, I was amazed by how little diversity they had there, both culturally and socially. It was either conform to their way or hit the highway. I’ve even found that same attitude at times in cities like L.A., NYC and Chicago. I truly believe that SLC has something special. I think Utah should be a star on the map for diversity, uniqueness and all around talent!!
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make things more prominent in the public eye?
Rebecca: Yes. I think that if the city collaborated more with people in the performing arts and opened up their minds to a greater scale of entertainment, you would notice more people flocking towards it. I would like to see groups, families, couples and friends making a night of going to the theater, listening to live bands, walking on a gallery stroll, taking a dance class, going to fund raisers and events and learning how to support our community. The more we support each other, the more we’ll get the support ourselves.
Gavin: Considering the various forms of entertainment we have here, is there anything Salt Lake City is lacking, or may have too much of, in your opinion?
Rebecca: I think we have too many bars and night clubs where nothing special is happening, it’s just a place where people hang out and drink. While there’s nothing wrong with that, what if the venues in this city started celebrating special performances by featured artists, dance companies, singers, circus performers, specialty acts, designers and other artists? We are lacking live entertainment in this city, and because of it, people are less likely to support it. But when it comes down to it, people like to be entertained, so what are we waiting for? Let’s entertain them!
Gavin: What can we expect from you and La Rouge Entertainment over this upcoming year?
Rebecca: Being that it’s La Rouge Entertainment’s big debut at SLC’s 10th Annual White Party Event, there is a lot on my plate as of now. After the New Year, I will be designing the layout of projects for 2011. I do know however, that we will be having auditions in mid February to find singer and/or dancers to film a new cabaret show that I am creating. We are also going to be doing a 2011 kick-off Fund Raiser Event called “The Black Masquerade Ball”. I am going to work my hardest at creating a space where the artists I work with will feel appreciated, loved and managed the way they should be. I will be putting my heart and soul into providing entertainment for events, functions, gatherings, weddings, corporate parties, etc. and making it “An Event to Remember."
Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you would like to promote or plug?
Rebecca: I would like to take this time to send out my appreciation and gratitude. Firstly, Thank you Gavin and City Weekly for reaching out to me and helping me spread the news about my new company La Rouge Entertainment & SLC’s beloved White Party Event. Much Love, Respect and Gratitude to Jessica Lopez and Kristina Georgelas, for always being there to support my wildest dreams and my biggest failures. To my beautiful sister Brittany Evans, for your continual inspiration and love. To my parents Michele & John Evans, for providing me the chance to be where I am today. To Jamil Hossain for taking the White Party to heights it’s always dreamed of. To Eben Lundberg for helping me stay on my feet, you’ve been an amazing friend! To Jamie Duncan-Plott, for your endless creative support and talent. To Weston Hall for his photography. To Ruthanne Clifford, LaLa West, Ryan Rapier, Jennie Burns, Issac Taylor, Jennifer Stapley-Taylor, and Jonny Jemming for all the strength, time, love, energy and support you’ve given me! I couldn’t be where I am today nor who I am today, without all of you!!! To Unite, Embrace, Create and Share. To Hope, Fulfill, Dream and Love. To Balance, Lift, Inspire, and Believe. To come forth as one... and celebrate!!!
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