White it out in Palm SpringsEntertainment Feature Thursday, April 5th, 2012
Q&A with Jeffrey Sanker
The annual White Party weekend in Palm Springs is the highlight of the year for many of the thousands of men from all over the globe who flock to the desert for three days of nearly non-stop dancing, drinking and an all-around good time.
Founded more than two decades ago by Los Angeles promoter Jeffrey Sanker, the White Party is now known as “the largest gay dance music festival.”
White Party 2012 begins its weekend of fun Friday, April 6, with the Boxers or Briefs party. Saturday brings the official White Party and closing out the event is Sunday’s T-Dance.
Reporter Jason Kelley recently talked with Sanker to get the inside scoop on the White Party experience.
Jason Kelley : How would you describe White Party Palm Springs to someone who’s never experienced it?
Jeffrey Sanker: It’s like a wonderful dream you never want to end … an energetic celebration of life, filled with music, men and muscle … along with incredible scenery and beautiful weather.
How has the White Party managed to attract large numbers of people each year when others have failed?
I always try to keep things new and fresh. You have to be on the cutting edge in order to succeed as long as I have. I always push the envelope by offering something new and different. Often that means taking risks, but that’s what I’ve become known for.
What makes Palm Springs such a special location?
Palm Springs is one of the world’s most magical places. It really is a beautiful oasis. It’s the perfect setting for a spring break getaway. Besides that, the City of Palm Springs itself … its residents and businesses … welcome us every year.
With White Party Palm Springs being such a large, popular event for gay men, what is the greatest thrill for you in producing it?
For me personally, it’s all about the “wow” factor. I like it when I see guys walk into an event and say, “Wow!” I love it even more when I see them at the end as they leave saying, “Wow!” Also, I get a lot of satisfaction, and really feel very honored, when I see guys who come back for the White Party again and again.
Why are events such as the White Party important for the gay community?
It’s a celebration and for many, an escape. The energy is invigorating. There’s an undeniable sense of camaraderie and also the tradition that it’s now become.
What is your most memorable moment from the White Party over the years?
My most memorable moment was having Jennifer Lopez perform and also when Lady Gaga performed.
How long does it take to plan the White Party?
As soon as the weekend is over, I start planning for the next one. Planning and executing an event like this is a year-round job.
Previous White Party attendees also have a lot to say about the infamous event.
“I was there with my boyfriend at the time and it was a fun romantic weekend believe it or not,” said Robby LaRiviere, who attended White Party 2011. “I know a lot of the guests attending the White Party are usually single and ready to mingle but my boyfriend and I had a fabulous time going to all the dances and watching Robyn perform.”
Each year, the White Party features a big-name musical headliner and this year that honor goes to Mary J. Blige. Past events have included performances by Lady Gaga, Ke$ha and Robyn.
Daniel Vaillancourt and his husband David Lee first attended the White Party after moving to Palm Springs in 2007. The couple had heard of the event while living in Los Angeles but didn’t think it was for them.
“But after we moved to Palm Springs, we realized it was silly not to attend,” said Lee. “So we went. It was the year that Lady Gaga performed the second time for the boys. It was magical. Maybe Gaga was a big part of it but we were made instant converts.”
There’s more to the White Party than just all-night parties. The fun continues during the day under the hot Palm Springs sun thanks to several DJ-hosted pool parties throughout the weekend.
“Similar to gay cruises, the White Party in reality is much more diverse than one would think,” said Vaillancourt. “Young or old, ripped or not, everyone’s welcome.”
As is often the case with large parties, the festivities at the White Party can sometimes get out of control. The use of meth, ecstasy and other drugs is not uncommon.
“Every year some poor souls get into trouble with too many drugs, too much sex or alcohol,” said Vaillancourt. “But if you play responsibly, it’s a great event that brings together all kinds of guys from all over the world in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.”
Tickets are on sale now at jeffreysanker.com.
Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=22839