Seeing red

For the second fall in a row, budget conscious big-boned women will have trouble finding that perfect red dress at area thrift stores. 

Thanks to the Grizzlies Red Dress Rampage, flame-colored gowns of any and all description and size are flying off the racks around town. The event, which had a wildly successful debut last year, is a combination fun run, fashion statement and pub crawl. Proceeds benefit the Nashville Grizzlies Rugby Football Club and the Belcourt Theatre, and both organizations say it’s a perfect fit for who they are and what they do.

“When we began talking about it a couple of years ago, it just sounded like a fun idea,” said Jim Schmidt, co-chair. “Then we found out there was a network of these races all across the country, and we had a lot of business support right away. The visual aspect was really appealing for the Grizzles, and when we looked for a nonprofit to partner with, the Belcourt quickly came to mind because of the whole theatrical aspect to the run.”

The theater serves as the starting line, and then racers will run, walk or wriggle (depending on dress length and fit) their way to PM, 12 South Taproom and Grill, ChaChah and Cabana Nashville. They’ll have 30 minutes and at least one beer at each locale, thanks to presenting sponsor Yazoo Brewing Co., and be able to compete for prizes as well.

Non-runners, friends, family and fans of red can get in on the action as well.

“It’s great armchair activity,” Schmidt said. “The visual aspect of 200 people running through the neighborhoods in red dresses makes this a pretty fun event for everybody. You don’t see this in any other race, and that’s one of the reasons why people have gravitated to it.”

That’s also why the rampage is so popular, even though it’s only two years old, added co-chair Todd Shelton.

“It’s pretty lighthearted, and it crosses a lot of demographic barriers,” Shelton said. “It was amazing last year — everybody had a blast, and a lot of people who didn’t participate were sorry that they didn’t, and are definitely taking part this year. From an organizing standpoint, that was what we wanted to hear and it’s why we think we can double what we raised last year.”

Strong participation from all sectors of the community was a draw for Yazoo, which upped its participation to the presenting level this year, said Neil McCormick, sales and marketing manager.

“We had been wanting to sponsor a race for a while but just couldn't find the right situation that was mutually beneficial for everyone involved,” said McCormick. Yazoo, which began brewing in 2003 but moved into a new facility on Division Street last March, also saw the race as a chance to further elevate its profile.

“We are proud to be a part of the Red Dress Rampage because we are helping build an event that is fun for all participants and all of the stops along the way,” McCormick.

And for the Belcourt, it’s a chance to be seated, quite literally.

“We were doing a fund-raising campaign to put new seats in the 1925 hall, and we were really honored when Jim and the Grizzlies brought the idea to us,” said Stephanie Silverman, managing director. “Last year’s run closed out our campaign; that last bit of money helped us make the final purchase. This year we’re raising money for seats in our 1966 hall, so the Red Dress Rampage is going to help us make more seriously significant improvements to the Belcourt. We’re incredibly grateful to be a part.”

All parties involved say that a major plus of the event is that it pulls in both the straight and gay communities, and all ages and demographics within them.

“I just love the fact that it’s a fun day, and that everybody from all walks of life gets in on it,” Schmidt said. “People came last year not knowing what it really was and we really had a good cross mix of people who had not even remotely met before, but really got into the spirit of the thing.”

For those who can't make the event, or need some last-minute clothing ideas, Tribe Nashville and Play Dance Bar,  are hosting a previous party and red-dress fashion show on Oct. 15.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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