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Balance Tampa Bay will be hosting their first annual masquerade ball, with all proceeds benefiting the AIDS Service Association of Pinellas (ASAP) and Empath Health. This fancy-dress ball will be held at District 3 (802-813 E. Whiting St., Tampa), starting at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 8.

District 3 promises to be a sleek and chic venue for this event, featuring elegant chandeliers, BTBBall_copymirrorballs and even lasers! Organizers are placing creativity and individuality very highly, so they say you can wear anything you like at this event, but please wear a mask. A lot of fantastic bartenders will be donating their time for this event and all tips given to them will benefit ASAP and Empath Health. DJ CK will provide them music for this fun evening, and there is a top-secret lineup of entertainment and performers who are excited to lend their time and talents to a great cause.

Tickets are $40 per person in advance or $50 at the door. You can purchase your tickets online by going to btbmasqueradeball.com and clicking on “tickets.”

I had the chance to speak with Balance Tampa Bay’s president, Scott Kligmann, about the organization and about the upcoming masquerade ball in this exclusive Hotspots interview. 

Tell us a little bit about what Balance Tampa Bay does for the community. 

We are a non-profit LGBT organization in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. Our mission is to provide fun, philanthropy, fellowship and mentorship. Each month we hold a service event as well as a social event somewhere in the three-county area of Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough. We also hold large-scale events, such as the Kickball for Kids charity event, and the Party for BTBBall_copy2Presents event every December. Last year we held the event at GBar and we donated 3,000 toys to needy children. 

Why do you feel it’s important that Tampa Bay has an organization like Balance? 

I think it’s important because Balance is a non-political service organization. You see lots of organizations that help the LGBT community here that may perhaps be politically motivated or inclined. When Balance was started, I think it was very important that such an organization was formed that gives back to the community with giving as the main focus. 

How did Balance Tampa Bay get the idea to hold a masquerade ball? 

Several of us were on the The SMART Ride last year and we were in Key West on the second evening. We started talking about how we could help HIV/AIDS service organizations locally, and someone recommended that we have a masquerade ball. We decided to pick August because there aren’t many events during that time. Shortly afterwards, we put together a committee and started formulating the plans, but the idea for it was born from The SMART Ride down from Miami to Key West. 

How excited are you all to present proceeds from the event to ASAP and Empath Health?

Very excited. It’s an overwhelming task to throw a party like this. We’re anticipating about 450 people, so of course we are ecstatic, but the most important thing we have our eyes on is to donate as close to $20,000 to ASAP and Empath Health as possible. We’re getting out there and trying to sell all of our tickets, and that would put a big dent into the amount of money we’d like to raise.

ASAP has a campus over on 5th Avenue in St. Petersburg, and they’ve torn down part of that and they are building a pharmacy. The cost to do all that is $500,000 and they’ve raised $400,000 through partnerships. We thought we could certainly get 400 people to attend, which will raise in the neighborhood of $16,000 to $20,000. We’re on our way though; I believe we have already sold close to 280 tickets. We have so many great sponsors, but I definitely want to thank Kurt King at Hamburger Mary’s. Without him, I don’t think we would have gotten to this point. It’s such a big undertaking and he, along with all of our sponsors, appreciate that.

For more information on the masquerade ball, visit btbmasqueradeball.com. For more information on Balance Tampa Bay, visit balancetampabay.org.

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Mike Halterman
Mike Halterman has been the editor of Hotspots Central since its launch in July 2016. He joined the Hotspots Media Group family as editor of Hotspots' South Florida magazine in June 2013. A former "40 Under 40" honoree in The Advocate magazine, Mike lives in the Tampa Bay area.