This year instead of joining my friends in Atlanta I chose to go to Sacramento and attend a yearly event put on by the River City Gems organization named Sparkle. There were a few girls that I had been internet friends with for many years but never met in person that attend regularly so I decided to spend my "Heidi Points" in California this time. To clinch the decision, DonnaKelli offered to share a room with me.
Much to my delight and surprise my wife offered to paint my toe nails the day before I left despite her obvious annoyance that I had grown my fingernails out quite long. It was such a welcome gesture from a sweet lady and she did a fantastic job that lasted the whole 5 days.
As usual, I spent the preceding month or more deciding on outfits and deciding what to pack. Always need to pack a little extra "just in case".
I flew into Sacramento and arrived at the hotel to be greeted by DonnaKelli before noon. That gave me plenty of time to dress and meet a few other girls for dinner. Donnakelli and I were determined to go to a country bar and line dance that evening and were hoping we could get some others to join.
I dressed in tight jeans, a brown wrap top and ankle boots...and put my western boots in the car. DonnaKelli was dressed similar. We were ready early and went down to the lobby of the hotel to see if anyone was ready yet. No one was there but soon we were approached by a man with a short beard. He addressed us by our names and we quickly learned that this was an arriving "sister" named Nora. She had been traveling all day and was just going to spend the night in the hotel resting and prepping for the next few days but was kind enough to insist on taking some photos of us. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the weekend as Nora found fun and creative poses for us.
We met the others at the restaurant and as I walked in a woman in the lobby made a point of complimenting me on my outfit.
Dinner was a lot of fun. I sat next to Heidi Lower and really enjoyed our conversation. I have often compared these cross-dressing vacations to events where people dress up in buckskin and coon-skin caps and spend a week acting like mountain-men of the old west. Well, Heidi and her wife actually do that as well! She was a joy to be around the whole time and is a fun and witty friend.
After dinner no one was willing to go to a unknown "Cowboy bar" with us so while everyone else went to a "Tg friendly" karaoke bar, DonnaKelli and I went by ourselves to the western bar...
We got to the western bar and walked to the entrance. It was not quite what we expected, appearing more like a dive than a club but we confidently walked in. The bartender immediately greeted us and cheerfully explained there was karaoke in the front bar and dancing in the back. I ordered a couple of cokes and we went to the back where there was a DJ and couple of girls but otherwise it was empty. Donnakelli went right out on the dance floor and we started to compare dances we knew. She tried to show me couple and I tried to show her a couple so all-in-all we looked a little awkward. But soon the DJ started asking us what we wanted him to play and asked us what dances we knew. Eventually he figured out our preferences and what we were familiar with and started playing songs I knew. By then more people had filtered in and there were about 8 or 10 people dancing.
At one point the DJ (who was a very good dancer) was teaching a dance I already knew and he commented how well I was moving my hips. Later, when another dance came on that I knew well I helped the others through it by pointing which way to go next and I overheard one of the girls say "She really knows what she is doing".
DonnaKelli and I decided not to stay much longer. Too much dancing can get too hot and we had intended to meet the others back at the hotel for a night-cap.
I had one more request for the DJ. I asked if we could sit on the mechanical bull for photos. He said "sure" and even went out of his way to inflate the pit so that we could do it. As we left we thanked the DJ and the friendly girls who were with him. They encouraged us to come back and explained how the other days of the week are busier. As we exited the front bar the bartender stopped us and also encouraged us to come back again. We told him we liked the place and planned to come back again some time. I gave us each VIP passes so that we could come back on a busier night and not pay any cover charge.
Some fun Photos Thanks to Nora's creativity!
Tips & Tricks
Day 3 (section A)
After a couple of late nights we took out time getting going in the morning. I had hoped to head out during the day and site-see with Nora but she had to go home for a family issue. This meant the only activity for the day was the big Sparkle Gala that evening. By early afternoon I was starving, both for food and for my last opportunity to get out in public as Heidi so I convinced Donnakelli, Heidi Lower, and Diana Baker to ride over to the mall for lunch.
I put on a loose yellow cold-shoulder tunic top, skinny jeans, ankle boots, and wore my shorter curly wig. I had modeled this outfit for my wife a few weeks earlier and she loved it saying it was very cute and on-trend as well.
The four of us walked into the mall and found the food court. We really didnt have a ton of time since it would be necessary to get to the hotel with plenty of time to get ready for the semi-formal event of the evening.
The mall was busy but we found a table...near the kids play zone so it wasnt ideal but that didnt really turn out to be an issue. I tried my voice as best as I could to order at the Chinese fast food but was aware of a few people in line looking at me longer than you'd expect.
After eating wanted to find some nail polish remover since I was almost out. As we walked around we took a few photos (the lighting was wonderful) and eventually found ourselves inside Sephora. Although they didnt have nail polish remover a salesgirl there stopped me and complimented me on my outfit. I guess my wife was right. So, of course we had her take some photos of us as well. I was having a lot of fun and wished we could have spent several more hours lingering around the mall and its shops but we had to get back and start primping and getting dolled up.
Day 3, The Finale
The Social Hour started at 6pm so i got dressed in my black lace dress, black nylons and black 4-inch pumps that DonnaKelli had given me since they didnt fit her well. We got down to the banquet room just after 6. The committee had done a superb job of making this a fun venue. There was a "red carpet" with lighting, a photographer, and props for fun pictures. A fancy candy sample table. Two comedians. A DJ and dancing on the dance floor. A raffle. And a delicious dinner on fabulously decorated tables.
Once again we had a ton of fun meeting people, admiring each other's outfits and taking fun pictures. I even posed on stage as if I were singing. Actual singing would have been "No Bueno"!
The comedians were decent but not great. After dinner I knew the DJ was about to start so I slipped up to the bedroom and put on my cowgirl boots because I knew I would not be able to sit down once the music started and prefer not to dance in high heels. I noticed that Diane Grace had slipped away as well, returning as her fun-loving alter ego Ling-Ling in a cute blond wig and red dress.
Once the music started I danced along with a few other and at times there were quite a few on the dance floor. Of course the first song was "I feel like a woman" by Shania Twain. I had to be sure to sit out often to avoid getting too sweaty but by the end of the night it was obvious I had failed at that. The most fun for me are the line dances and the DJ played "The Wobble", "Cupid Shuffle", "Electric Slide" as well as regular dance music.
Finally, there was the auction. I didnt win any of the gift certificates to Sephora or Ulta or even the beautiful center-piece. However, Carollyn won the center-piece and since she could not keep it she gave it to me. It was the sweetest thing ever and I now proudly have it on my dresser and it makes me smile and remember my wonderful friend and a sublime weekend.
Chapter 3 Friday afternoon
Friday's plans were to go to a lunch organized by Carollyn Olsen and then the pre-Sparkle dinner at a downtown restaurant. I have corresponded with Carollyn for more years than I care to admit but we'd never met in person. Meeting her was the primary reason I had decided to go to Sacramento instead of Atlanta this year.
The suggested dress code for the luncheon was business casual. I really struggled over what would be appropriate to wear but Donnakelli suggested that anything short of a sequin gown can be considered casual for this setting. I settled on a tan pencil skirt, flowy purple top with open sleeves, and wedge sandals. After the required group pictures in the lobby we all met over at the restaurant and I finally got to meet my good friend in person. You know how you get to know someone online and think you have a good idea what they are like in person only to eventually realize you were quite wrong? Well, Carollyn was just as energetic, beautiful, friendly and a ray of sunshine that I had expected.
I also got to meet the incredible Diane Grace for the first time but didnt really get a chance to talke with her much.
The restaurant was kind of busy but the staff was very friendly and the other patrons didnt seem to be irritated that there was a group of men dressed as women among them. And they also didnt seem put out by the frequent photo taking.
To the astonishment of all of us. Nora decided to pick up the tab for everyone. She said our friendship has had a priceless influence on her life and I can understand her feelings. I truly believe the support and encouragement of like-minded people have made me a better and happier person. Even my wife has said she has noticed an extra confidence, kindness, and patience since I have decided to embrace my feminine side and not try to suppress it.
Before leaving I used the ladies's room without incident. A couple of women entered while I was in the stall but I exited before they came out. However as we lingered outside and made our way to the cars a woman and teenage son walked slowly past looking back at us several times with strange looks on their faces.
We drove across the street to a mall with a big fountain. It is one of Carollyn's favorite photo spots and kind of an iconic setting now. We all took photos on the butterfly bench and took lots of photos in at this fun setting as shoppers continuously passed by. After a long lunch and leisurely visit to the mall fountain we had plenty of time to return and change clothes to go downtown for dinner and possible clubs downtown.
Day 2 part II
I decided to wear a black mesh top over a black lace tank top, a pink mini-skirt, black nylons and black patent peep-toed pumps. We parked down in the "Lavender district" we met up with many of the girls from the River City Gems and others that plan to attend their Sparkle event. It was fun meeting new girls and a few of them recognized me from my internet presence. The food was good and conversations ranging from makeup to kayaking were entertaining. As usual there was a lot of picture taking and silliness. The dinner was on a patio area of a restaurant and people walking past were intrigued to see the 30-40 crossdressers, and transwomen mingling together.
After dinner the options were to go to a loud dance club or a "dive" bar. Most people chose the dive bar so I went as well. It turned out to be a pretty nice bar compared to some of the true dives that I've been to in the past. Again, there were lots of conversations, silly photos and meeting new people including other t-girls that just happened to be there.
One highlight was when a guy with a ball cap and two-week beard approached us and recognized DonnaKelli and myself as well as others. A strange meeting turned into a fun introduction when we were told that this guy was one of our sisters that had kind of been out of touch for a while and just happened to be at that bar with his wife!