By Laurie Lonsdale
Harley Davidson held its Precious Metal event on May 5th; a women’s “garage” party of sorts, at the Liberty Grand located in Exhibition Stadium, Toronto. And while a ballroom may sound like an overly elegant establishment in which to host a motorcycle party, there was actually method to the madness. The event was intended to empower women to ride, while softening the image of the female bike enthusiast. To this end, the décor chosen for the affair was ultra-feminine in hues of pink and white, boasting faux pearl chandeliers and white feather clusters that fell from the ceiling, while illuminated white palm trees were placed sporadically throughout the dimly lit hall.
With Rethink Breast Cancer as the beneficiary of the event’s proceeds, the evening was chock full of things to do. Designated set-ups around the hall allowed for guests to receive massages at the Tune-Up Station, manicures at the Paint Station, and make-up at the Touch-Up Station. One allowed for women to get their photo taken while sitting atop a pristine Harley, while yet another offered a mini training session on the most effective way for a female to lift a bike from the ground in the event that it gets dropped. Women were encouraged to participate in every station and get their Precious Metal card stamped at each one. A fully stamped card could then be exchanged for a gift bag at the end of the night.
The occasion, which was designed to correspond with International Female Ride Day on May 1st, also featured plenty of contests and giveaway, including one to win a Harley Davidson necklace, one for a Sony Vaio laptop, and yet another for a day at the spa. An interesting game of chance came in the form of The “Right Fit” Closet, which featured an extensive line of women’s clothing from Harley Davidson. Items were tagged with hidden tickets marked as either “Harley” or “Davidson” and any participant lucky enough to randomly select one of each and spell out the brand name was able to choose an item of clothing from the closet and wear it home. Additionally, a silent auction was in place to assist in raising money for Rethink Breast Cancer, and provided the highest bidders with items such as a Gibson guitar, a Mac cosmetics box, spa treatments, and jewelery.
TV personality Liz West was on hand to host the event and Karen Davidson, the great-granddaughter of the company’s co-founder William A. Davidson, was in attendance as well.
In keeping with the notion of feminizing the evening, entertainment came in the form of Canadian chanteuse Jill Barber, known for her sultry style of music from the golden ages. Flanked by her suit-wearing orchestra, Barber looked demure and oh-so Sandra Dee wearing a sleek up-do and a shock pink dress from yesteryear. Barber delivered a flawless performance that included a few songs from her latest release, Chances, and returned later in the evening to regale the audience with a few more of her timeless tunes.
Between sets from Barber, attendees were treated to pole dancing/fitness demonstrations from two diminutive girls from Flirty Girl Fitness in Toronto, while two buff male models with perfectly chiselled features, a la Chippendales, sported Harley Davidson logos on their shirtless chests and graciously posed for photos. The models were among very few men in attendance, and assisted Liz West in the draw for the door prize.
While some partygoers salivated over the male hotties, others were enticed by the buffet. An assortment of gourmet pizza slices and mini burgers tempted some palates, while others were drawn to several of the Chinese dishes or the bite-sized fish and chips. A chocolate fountain provided a decadent aroma that wafted throughout the hall, while the dessert table offered a sinful selection of tiny tarts and cakes. And no “garage” party detail was overlooked, right down to hubcap centerpieces, cutlery arranged inside toolboxes, and waiters dressed in mechanic’s uniforms that served pink grapefruit-laced cocktails topped with pink candyfloss. Tres chic! As a matter of fact, the entire affair was first class.
As someone who has toured Vegas, the desert, and Red Rock Canyon on a Harley, as well as the US coastline from Chesapeake Bay to Key West, it wasn’t necessary for me to attend the Garage Party to know that being on a bike is empowering, freeing, and one helluva good time. Nevertheless, the Women’s Garage Party was definitely the most stylish and feminine of motorcycle events that I have ever seen, and I applaud Harley Davidson and the event organizers in their attempt to shed a softer, albeit pink, light on the issue.