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Thirty years ago, in the middle of what was becoming the AIDS epidemic, the Desert AIDS Project was founded to help locals deal with the crisis.

On Friday, July 25, at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, the Desert AIDS Project will be celebrating its three decades with its annual Mid-Summer Dance Party. Playing at the event will be Independent resident DJ All Night Shoes, and DJ Femme A. Cameron Neilson, formerly on the television show X-Factor, will also be providing entertainment.

Darrell Tucci, DAP’s chief development officer, discussed how the organization began.

“A group of people locally saw what was taking place as far as the (AIDS crisis) was concerned in the 1980s,” Tucci said. “DAP became one of the first AIDS services organizations in the country in 1984. The Desert AIDS Project over the years has allowed itself to keep its fingers on the pulse of the epidemic, the needs of the people affected, and to grow and expand to offer the services that were needed along the way.”

When AIDS and HIV were first identified, there were few, if any, helpful treatment options. When asked what services were offered during the early years of the organization, Tucci offered a grim reminder of those days.

“Most AIDS service organizations started as organizations that could provide comfort,” Tucci said. “The earliest organizations were activist-oriented, not care-oriented, because no one knew how to provide care for a disease that no one understood yet. As those questions became answered, care was … provided. In the earliest days, buddy programs were developed: If you were living with HIV, and it was already isolating because of how it manifested in your body, another person in the community who may or may not be HIV-positive could be a buddy in your life to help support you emotionally or physically.”

Thankfully, the medical field began making progress in treating those with HIV.

“As more progress grew in medicine, medical clinics developed as federal government money started to be poured into it. Case management had to be created—to make sure people were eligible to receive services the government was paying for, but also to make sure people were dealing with the challenges of managing their own illness.”

In its three decades, the Desert AIDS Project has provided a vast number of services, from apartment-style housing for clients that sits behind the DAP campus on Sunrise Boulevard in Palm Springs, to social support, basic-needs care, and holistic and metaphysical care. Tucci said the Desert AIDS Project has also started offering dental care in recent years.

“Fifteen years ago, no one worried about dental care, because patients weren’t really living long enough. … Now that we have people living for decades, the No. 1 thing they told us four or five years ago is, ‘We need access to dental care, and we can’t afford it.’ So we developed one of the first HIV specialty dental clinics in the country. Two years ago, we expanded it.”

Some people have questioned the financials of the organization through the years. However, Charity Navigator, a site that ranks nonprofit organizations, gives DAP a four-star rating, the highest a nonprofit organization can have, and reports that DAP spends 81.6 percent of its budget on the programs and services it delivers.

“In total, we currently serve 2,300 people across all of the different services we provide,” Tucci said. “Right now, our budget is around $20 million. Our overhead expenses tend to hover between 13 percent and 18 percent per year, which is well below the federal guidelines of 25 percent. We run a very financially healthy organization, and we make sure that every dollar that gets donated here is maximized as to how it cares for our organization.”

Tucci said the upcoming Desert AIDS Project birthday celebration will be a much more relaxed function than usual.

“It’s been at the Ace Hotel for years,” Tucci said about the Mid-Summer Dance Party. “It’s usually about 500-plus people. It’s an informal event where there are no speeches, and there are no awards. Not that those things are bad, but it is the one time of the year where we bring everyone together to have a real party. We’re bringing in two of the valley’s best DJs. We’re bringing in Cameron Neilson, who used to be on The X-Factor and he’s going to do a couple of special performances that night. Being that it is our anniversary, we thought it was time to have a birthday party.”

The Mid-Summer Dance Party takes place from 8 p.m. to midnight on Friday, July 25, at the Commune at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $40 to $75; the late-night party pass, which gains attendees entry after 10 p.m., is $20. For tickets or more information, call the Desert AIDS Project at 760-992-0440, or visit www.desertAIDSproject.org.

Published in Local Issues

Comedy

Coachella Comedy/Improv Festival

A weekend celebration of improv and comedy! See improv teams and comics perform and compete! Visit the website for a complete schedule. 4 to 9:30 p.m., Friday, July 11, through Sunday, July 13. $20 to $85. Indio Performing Arts Center, 45175 Fargo Street, Indio. Coachellaimprovfest.weebly.com.

Film

Dive-in Movies at Wet ’N’ Wild

Dive-in Movies are included with park admission. Play during the day on Fridays, and stay late to enjoy a film poolside. The movies are intended to be family-friendly, but please use discretion. Movies will start after dusk, and the park will be open until 10 p.m., weather permitting. July 11: Frozen. July 18: The Amazing Spider-Man. July 25: The Lego Movie. Aug. 1: Grown-Ups 2. Admission prices vary. Wet ’n’ Wild Palm Springs, 1500 S. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs. 760-327-0499; www.wetnwildpalmsprings.com.

Kids’ Summer Movie Series at Ultrastar

A selection of family-friendly films are shown at 9:30 a.m. every Monday through Friday, through Friday, Aug. 22. June 30 through July 4: Turbo. July 7-11: Walking With Dinosaurs. July 14-18: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. July 21-25: Ice Age: Continental Drift. July 28-Aug. 1: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. $5 for a 10-movie package; $1 at the door. UltraStar Mary Pickford Cinemas, 36850 Pickfair St., Cathedral City. 760-328-0484; www.ultrastarmovies.com.

Lit Flicks: All the President’s Men

See how great books can turn into film classics! Prior to the film, enjoy popcorn and kick back for a short conversation by film and literary experts. This will be facilitated by Tod Goldberg, director of the University of California, Riverside’s Palm Desert’s low-residency MFA program. After the film, there will be a brief discussion. 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 23. Free. University of California, Riverside—Palm Desert, 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive, Palm Desert. 760-834-0800; palmdesert.ucr.edu/programs/Lit_Flicks.html

Moonlight Movies—Captain America: The First Avenger

Bring your blankets, low-back sand chairs, snacks and the whole family for fun and movies under the stars. Sunset, Friday, July 11. Free; call for other Moonlight Movies events. Fritz Burns Park Pool, 78107 Avenue 52, La Quinta. 760-777-7090; www.la-quinta.org.

Music

Copa Events

Ross Mathews presents Jackie Beat, the world-famous drag superstar and comedy writer, at 8 p.m., Friday, July 4. $20 to $40. Amy and Freddy, headliners for 13 consecutive years with RSVP Vacations, perform at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, July 18 and 19. $25 to $40. Copa. 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs. 760-322-3554; coparoomtickets.com.

Fantasy Springs Rock Yard Concert Series

At 7:30 p.m., full-throttle rock music fires up with a cover band to get audience members out of their seats. At 9 p.m., the tribute band takes over and plays audience favorites. At 10:30 p.m., the cover band comes back out and continues the live music until midnight. Saturday, July 5: Tribute to Queen. Saturday, July 12: Tribute to Bon Jovi. Call for information on other concerts. Free. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 888-331-5645; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Friday Night Tribute Concert: Lynyrd Skynyrd

Spotlight 29 Casino invites everyone to come out and enjoy the Friday-night tribute concerts. Guests must be 21 years and older. July 4: Lynyrd Skynyrd. Call for information on other dates. Free. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella. 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

The Melvyn’s Artists’ Showcase

Join Mikael Healey, musical director, each Wednesday at 8 p.m. for open-mic night, featuring singers, poets, instrumentalists and artists of all types. Free. Melvyn’s Restaurant at the Ingleside Inn, 200 W. Ramon Road, Palm Springs. 760-325-2323; inglesideinn.com.

Special Events

Independence Day Celebration Benefiting AAP

Join supporters of the AIDS Assistance Program at the legendary O’Donnell House for a dazzling celebration. The evening includes cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Fireworks begin at 9:15 p.m. Valet parking provided. 7:30 p.m., Friday, July 4. $100; advancaae purchase required. The O'Donnell House, 412 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs. 760-325-8481; aidsassistance.org.

Lyfted Productions Presents Independence Fe5tival + UFC

The party features DJ LF and DJ Sean; and a carnival theme on the patio with a dunk tank, bungee pull, vodka snow cones and more. Come early to hang with the beautiful Kilt girls and watch the UFC fight on more than 40 big screens. 10 p.m., Saturday, July 5. $5 to $8. Tilted Kilt, 72191 Highway 111, Palm Desert. 760-773-5458; www.showclix.com/event/3855645.

Palm Springs Tattoo Convention

More than 75 top artists are tattooing all weekend. Live music and DJs plus drink specials are included, as are tattoo contests. Friday, July 11, through Sunday, July 13. $20 weekend pass. Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-9676; palmtreesandtattoos.com.

Seventh Annual Mid-Summer Dance Party

To celebrate the Desert AIDS Project’s 30th birthday, they’re throwing a party. The event features DJ sets by All Night Shoes and Femme A, and a special performance by Cameron Neilson from The X Factor. 8 p.m. to midnight, Friday, July 25. $20 to $75. The Commune at Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-992-0440; www.desertaidsproject.org.

Summer School: Poolside Art Workshops and Music

The Ace hosts its annual weekend of artist workshops, plus DJs and bands curated by School Night Los Angeles (KCRW’s Chris Douridas and MFG’s Matt Goldman). Friday, July 18, through Sunday, July 20. Prices vary. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/calendar/palmsprings.

Visual Arts

Backstreet Art District Art Walk

Galleries and studios featuring modern and contemporary fine art are open the first Wednesday of every month from 6 to 9 p.m. Experience the thrill of interacting with working artists. Find paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, photography and more, in one location. Free. Backstreet Art District, Cherokee Way and Matthew Drive, Palm Springs. 760-202-1208; www.backstreetartdistrict.com.

California Dreamin’: Thirty Years of Collecting

The exhibit includes art works purchased by the Palm Springs Art Museum with funds provided by the Contemporary Art Council and other contributors since 1984. The acquisitions were created by contemporary artists who worked in California or were influenced by spending some time in California during their artistic careers. This is the first time these artworks have been on exhibition together. The exhibit is a celebration of the commitment of the Contemporary Art Council to growing the museum’s collection of significant contemporary artists, and is a survey of art in California since the 1980s. On display through Thursday, July 31. Included with museum admission (free to $12.50). Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-322-4800; www.psmuseum.org.

Submit your free arts listings at calendar.artsoasis.org. The listings presented above were all posted on the ArtsOasis calendar, and formatted/edited by Coachella Valley Independent staff. The Independent recommends calling to confirm all events information presented here.

Published in Local Fun