As we entered the SLC Photo Collective, my date and I were greeted by a clean cut man in a black tuxedo, “Sir … miss, how are we this evening?” I answered back, “We’re doing great, thank you,” as we hung our coats. A saxophone blared over the rest of a live band that played funky, upbeat jams to a small crowd that had found itself gathered in the high ceilinged room that takes up a good part of the Collective itself. The group was finely dressed, ladies with hair done pretty and gentlemen sporting their best beards, mustaches, stubble and other assorted styles of manly facial hair. As the band, Son of Ian as I found out later, wrapped up a song with a wicked sax finale, this dapper group clapped and cheered. My date and I made our way to the back of the large room, passed the beautiful displays that line the walls and the pop-up bar sponsored by Bohemian Brewery and finally a large, brightly lit mirror where Riley Bigalow performed the art of straight razor shaves on eager patrons. A Beehive Cigars banner hung above a table at the back of this room, and upon it were a selection of cigars, cigar cutters and pipe tobacco. Kendrick Woolstenhulme, owner of the local cigar shop, approached and asked if we were interested in any of his fine tobacco wares. My female companion graciously purchased us an incredible smelling cigar to share later on the patio out back that had been transformed into a cigar lounge with a fire pit. We thanked Kendrick for his help and turned our attention back towards the back. My date eventually began socializing and I was left to wander.
The room with the band, as well as the smaller entrance room, began filling quickly with more people as the night went on. People began dancing to Son of Ian as they grooved on and smiles were creeping onto everyone’s faces. As the band wrapped up, Bill Allred of X96’s Radio From Hell took to the floor and announced that there would be both a mustache and a beard competition, and that entry was open to anyone who felt their facial hair was up to snuff. Jed himself would judge the crowd’s applause to determine the winners who would win passes to an upcoming show at The Complex. Jed Beal, the owner of Jed’s Barber Shop, a passionate supporter of the Movember Movement and the driving force behind the gala, took up the mic and said a few words about Movember and what it really means. In a recent interview with SLUG magazine last month, Beal said, “Guys don’t like to acknowledge that testicular and prostate cancer are a problem because it deals with very private parts of one’s anatomy and can be an embarrassing issue for some, but just like breast cancer and the pink ribbon, the mustache and this gala are a reminder for these cancers that affect men.” As I looked out over the crowd at this point, it was fascinating to see all the people that had made it out that evening. Hipsters with beatnick ‘staches and soul patches (no I was not included in that group … ahem), scruffy bearded middle-aged guys and clean-cut older men in fine suits, with many an equally stunning lady on their arm who had come out to support this incredible cause. Local musician Pablo Blaqk, who was Jed’s right-hand man for the gala, also spoke about the effort, people and companies who had made the event what it was and had shown support for the power behind local business.
Even more people began to pack into the large room while Blaqk spoke, excited to get a look at the guys who would be competing in the first round of the mustache and beard contests. With Allred hosting, his comments and jabs at the contestants had everyone laughing as they made their choices through applause and cheer for their favorite forms of facial decoration. After prizes were handed out to winners, local poet, JoKyR, took to entertaining the group that was still growing inside the Collective, and later on in the evening, Blaqk and Michelle Moonshine would play a private show for those lucky enough to have reserved a spot in the VIP section upstairs.
It was time to indulge in that delicious cigar that my date had bought for us. We grabbed our coats and made our way outside to the cigar lounge. We puffed our cigar and talked about the music and laughs we had over the contest we had just seen, and you better believe that as soon as two spots opened up by the fire pit, we were there taking advantage of this purest form of heat. The fire was mesmerizing and seemed to bring out a feeling of camaraderie among those who found themselves around it. We socialized with Kendrick of Beehive and the other attendees about cigars and how nice it was that these simple pleasures could bring a group together and share a moment at something as special as an event like this one.
Check out more photos of the event here.