The Tacky, the Ugly, and the Holidays: Asheville’s Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

Asheville’s Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
Fun-loving Ashevillians came together once again to celebrate the Fourth Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party on Friday, Dec. 14. Held at Broadway’s, Asheville’s classic dive bar, and hosted by local DJs Kipper Schauer and Jason Holland, this irony-filled holiday party has become a holiday staple—and a not to be missed event. This year proved to be the best one yet, according to Kipper.

“Ugly sweater parties are just so tongue-in-cheek.” Kipper says. “They’re to celebrate tackiness and ugliness and the holidays. They’re just so awesome and accessible.”

Asheville’s Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
For those actually sporting holiday garb, Broadway’s waived the $3 cover charge. The array of sweaters represented was astounding. Many attendees raided the local Goodwill and other thrift shops to find the perfect combination of Santas, candy canes, and puffy snowmen. A few gentlemen admitted to borrowing sweaters from mothers and grandmothers.

One woman wore an eye-catching red, sequined pantsuit with blast-from-the-past shoulder pads. Others focused on accessorizing, including reindeer antler headbands, light-up Christmas bulb earrings, and holiday socks, scarves, and shoes. Hats must be tipped, however, to the DIY partygoers who adorned themselves with handmade trees, bows, and bells. At last year’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, Stacey Verdugo Coleman actually wired her sweater with lights and tucked battery packs into the small of her back to keep the holiday spirit alive.

Holiday spirits were high: Crown Royal Maple was on special, leaving an aroma of pancakes and baked goods in the air around those who indulged. A Christmas tree was decorated with presents underneath—boxes of Pabst Blue Ribbon—for all the good Asheville boys and girls. One corner near the dance floor was designated for picture-taking, where local photographer Sarah Nix took a series of shots for each posing couple or group. Even Santa—craftily portrayed by Kipper’s dad, Jay Schauer—made an appearance, posing for photos with ugly sweater wearers. And yes, some even chose to sit on his lap.

Asheville’s Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
DJ Jason Holland started the night off with a mix of Top 40 hits and club music, ending his set around midnight. Jason has been involved with the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party from the beginning. You may remember him from his days as WPVM and AshevilleFM radio show host of the Dr. Awesome Show. He also DJs and performs his own electronic music under the name Pomme de Terre. The crowd loved booty-shaking to his hip hop, club, dance tunes, remixes, and mashups.

Once Kipper took the stage at midnight, the crowd was primed for his combination of nostalgic dance songs, hip hop, and a smattering of Christmas music. He says he was “awestruck” with the dance floor crowd. “The floors were literally bouncing, heaving underneath all that rhythmic dancing,” Kipper says. “From downstairs, you could see the ceiling moving like an astro jump in reverse.”

Asheville’s Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
Kipper is a regular fixture around town. He’s been known to DJ the Saturday night dance parties at Arcade Asheville (nicknamed “Barcade” by Asheville locals), and he sets the mood every Sunday at The Southern, where he plays yacht rock for the brunch crowd. He’s probably best known, however, for Kipper’s Totally Rad Trivia Night on Mondays at Broadway’s. Kipper’s raucous pop culture trivia game boasts a cash pot and cheesy prizes along with creative audio and visual rounds.

Kipper is already aiming for 2013 to be the best year yet for the annual party, so get your ugly sweater early this year—maybe even in January after the holiday gift returns—and he will see you there next December with bells on.


Amanda Rodriguez is an activist in Asheville. She holds an MFA in Fiction Writing from Queens University and writes about food and drinking games on her website Booze & Baking.