Tom Rice looks out at the barren parking lot of the Fairfield Marriott. He's not seeing asphalt and a couple of cars, brutal sun glinting off bumpers. He's not listening to car sounds of the nearby freeway.
Rice has a vision. He holds up a picture of an elaborate outdoor stage. He's talking ice ramps for drinks, DJs, foam, fog and lights. He waves his arms in a gesture that encompasses all three stories of the Fairfield's facade, which will be covered in LEDs, he says. He holds all of the pieces in his head, down to the rainbow umbrellas that will shield people from the sun after a trip to the fajita bar.
Tribal Pride, a three-day party, will be the first of its kind in Albuquerque. Rice has helped out at various pride celebrations in the past, he says, "and sometimes I was given just hours." He's the CEO of Spectrum Enterprises, and along with a crew, he's been planning the event since last fall. The event will range all over the Fairfield, the entirety of which has been rented for the weekend.
"It's a secured zone. You can dress like you want and be how you want."
For plenty of revelers, the gay pride party doesn't stop once the parade and event at the fairgrounds are over on Saturday. Attendees come from near and far for that day. Several of the bars that usually host post-Pride events, like Pulse, AMC and Foxes, closed down last year. Plus, an event like this that urges people to live in the party should help prevent DWI, Rice says. In line with that goal, he's had Tribal Pride's noise permit extended until 2 a.m. "I didn't want to have a party where at 12 a.m., people get in the car and go Downtown."
The Fairfield, at University and Menaul, is easy to access but also somewhat isolated. Rice chose it by looking at Albuquerque via Google Earth. "Where in the city can you go and not bother anybody?" he asked. Upon entering the party, guests will find two pools and a courtyard surrounded by hotel rooms occupied fellow merrymakers. "It's a secured zone," says Rice. "You can dress like you want and be how you want." A red carpet will provide plenty of opportunity to glam it up. Pool parties, ample food and drink, shuttles to O'Niell's Pub and the Expo NM fairgrounds—all of the fine detail lends the party the air of a big-city experience, Rice says. "You'll get a sense of feeling safe. There's lots of places to explore, but it's all with your family."