SUBA UDE provides physical, creative and emotional projects for displaced persons living in welfare camps in Sri Lanka. We focus on psychosocial needs beyond food, shelter and medicine.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The DisPlacements Benefit at The Standard Hollywood

Setting: July 13, 2005. A windy warm LA desert night. A hip hotel. The Standard Hollywood. Aspiring starlet sits perched over concierge desk. Dr. Dre and posse approach...up white steps, through white lobby, over white shag carpet. Door girl stands guard outside hotel lounge. Encountered with "Don't you know who I am", she blithely responds, "It's a benefit. It's for creative youth programs in Sri Lanka." He hands her a hundred and they all walk in.

It was a Wednesday night party in Hollywood with a $20 cover. Proceeds would jump-start Suba Ude's latest project - a participatory multimedia program with multiethnic youth affected by the civil war on the east coast of Sri Lanka. The Standard graciously donated their lounge, which was packed by 10 pm with revelers getting happy on free Bombay Sapphire ( and burning holes in the dance floor. DJs Liza ( and Jimmy nearly set off the fire alarm with their hot sets while images of Suba Ude's programs projected overhead. This was globalization Hollywood style - two opposing worlds seamlessly fused together and set to a rockin soundtrack.

At the auction table, people huddled together, carefully placing their bids on free weekends at the Standard Hollywood and Downtown, a diamond necklace, a Kit (sex toys save the children!), MOCA ( memberships, and more. Party goers bought out the table of MonkBags ( and departed with goodie bags stuffed with Stonesthrow ( comps and Flaunt ( magazines, American Apparel ( shirts, and milk crates of records, brown cardboard boxes filled with gifts from generous donors.

As the lights came up at 3:30am, we gobbled down grilled cheeses and french fries and gave ourselves some props. We had done well. Weary and hung over, I caught a passing memory from a not-so-distant past. I was in a displacement camp in Sri Lanka setting up child-friendly spaces, sewing centres and marionette shows. Now thousands of miles away, I was struck by how far I had traveled and how much one can actually do to bring two sides of the world together!


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