Eight Mighty Parties
White Party Palm Springs
by Matt Kalkhoff

Like Moses leading the enslaved Israelites across the scorching desert in search of freedom and redemption, circuit kingpin Jeffrey Sanker will entice an estimated 25,000 revelers to make the annual Easter pilgrimage on April 12-16 to a modern day Promise Land – Palm Springs, California. Instead of the fabled brutality, pestilence and burning bushes, though, this exodus is celebrated with hedonistic pagan rituals, decadent costumes, and relentless ceremonial dance.

Celebrating its 12th year, the White Party in Palm Springs has steadily grown from a simple weekend gathering of West Coast boys into one of the largest and most lucrative gay community building events in the country. Sanker’s innovative vision, unrelenting determination, and extensive experience as a nightclub promoter have catapulted him to the pinnacle of gay party production. Each year may present new creative and logistical challenges, but Sanker thrives on the opportunity to surpass his prior achievements, and consistently impresses his guests with an exceptionally creative array of distinct venues, world-class entertainment, and unexpected treats. Armed with over 200 staff members, an impervious reputation, and a fierce commitment to remaining at the top of his game, Sanker is destined to continue his mighty reign as the supreme circuit party commander-in-chief.

12-Step Program

Your first step for a successful White Party weekend is to secure a hotel room. Of course, you should have made your reservations months ago, but in case you’ve procrastinated this year, you might still be able to find lodging at one of the officially sanctioned host hotels. The Wyndham, the main host hotel and site of several events, has been sold out for quite a while, but you might try checking availability at the Hilton, Marquis, Marriott, or Comfort Inn. Contact info for each property can be found at www.jeffreysanker.com.

Your next step is to secure a pass or tickets to individual events. A limited number of VIP passes were still available at press time, but they are expected to sell out soon. If you’re definitely going, buy your tickets now because some events will also sell out.

Next you should decide which events you will attend. Remember – quality over quantity. Even though the Betty Ford Clinic is situated nearby, please don’t push yourself to attend every single event. Please be aware of the dangers of overdoing it, and be realistic and responsible when planning your itinerary. With such an incredible line-up of talent, however, this might be more difficult than it sounds. But you’ll thank yourself later if you exercise restraint in making party pledges.

But When Do I Sleep?

Thursday night’s Welcome Party kicks off under the spell of rising circuit DJ Kimberly S in the Marquis Ballroom. Enjoy riding the escalators in a heightened state of euphoria while experiencing the sonic energy of the lovely Miss S. Pace yourself, though, because this is only the beginning.

Hop on one of the complimentary shuttles Friday night to the spectacular Riviera Resort where DJ Abel will be sternly issuing dance floor orders at the infamous Military Party. Sure to be out of uniform and in dire need of discipline are adult video superstars Ryan Idol and Caesar. Backed by the Barracks of Boys dance troupe, their stimulating shows will take you on an erotic trip to a fantasy land of lust and desire.

Afterhours parties on both Friday and Saturday nights feature the innovative and progressive sounds of New York legends Peter Rauhofer and Junior Vasquez, respectively. Both will conveniently take place in the Wyndham Hotel Ballroom. In case you have any worries about partying in the same venue two mornings in a row, fear not, as the ballroom will be magically remodeled each night, with Saturday’s Climax event showcasing the mind-blowing Phazon Sound System and psychedelic performances by Rubio & Kidd of RKM.

The White Party itself will once again be held at the Palm Springs Convention Center on Saturday, and Sanker promises that this year’s spectacle will impress even the most seasoned circuiteers. Designer Sean DeFreitas will transform the imposing 80,000 square feet of raw space into a virginal white wonderland. DJ Manny Lehman will tender the tunes to keep more than 8,000 revelers dancing on the 20,000 square foot dance floor, while an orgy of intelligent lights and Argon lasers penetrates the massive crowd.

One of the most anticipated parties of the weekend is Sunday’s Shag-A-Delic T Dance. San Francisco mix-master Phil B returns to the helm this year to enchant his faithful followers at the Marquis Park. Majestic mountain views and cool desert breezes further stimulate the senses, while those who aren’t quite high enough from all the excitement can soar above the crowds riding the largest Ferris Wheel in North America. A breathtaking fireworks display will dramatically end the affair just in time for the Closing Party.

Regroup and freshen up at your hotel, and then wander over to the Wyndham Ballroom for the next stop on the White Party Express. MASTERbeat DJ Brett Henrichson will keep the energy pumping at this perennial favorite, while rising Miami DJ Ra drenches the pool area with his special blend of tribal beats and anthem house. Kitty Meow, Power and Extreme team up to provide dazzling visual performances throughout the night. This is the event that Manny Lehman credits for solidifying his superstar status, so prepare to be overwhelmed.

A new event this year is The Grand Finale, an afterhours party on Monday morning. A homecoming of sorts for London-based DJ Paulo, this event is for those of you who just haven’t had enough yet (and you know who you are). The powerhouse prodigy promises to drain every last drop of energy you might have left, bringing the weekend to a spectacular and climactic close.

Don’t let the darkness be your only guide this weekend, though. Some of the most fun events at White Party are the daytime pool parties, where a host of high caliber entertainment will be showcased for your splish-splashing pleasure. DJs Kimberly S, Frank Abraham, Aron and Lydia Prim will work the rhythms at both the Wyndham and Hilton courtyards on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Arrive early to ensure entry, and don’t forget your sunglasses and sunblock. Above all else this weekend, remember to have fun and party responsibly.

For more information on White Party, please visit www.jeffreysanker.com. Passes and tickets are also available through Box Office Tickets at (800) 494-8497.

© 2001 Matt Kalkhoff

This article appeared on GayWired.com in March 2001