Nothing says “Bring on the summer!” quite like a Palm Springs pool party. And none says it louder than the White Party Palm Springs. With an average 30,000 attendees, the Jeffrey Sanker–produced event has blossomed into the largest gay dance-music festival in the nation.
As Sanker preps for the party’s 28th year, he can’t help but marvel at its exponential growth.
IF YOU GO
White Party Palm Springs
“It started out with 500 of my closest friends,” Sanker says. “I had just moved to California from New York City and came to Palm Springs for the very first time and saw how beautiful the desert was. I really wanted to bring what was happening inside the nightclubs out into the desert and out into the daylight.”
He set out to create an anything-goes summer camp for the gay community and, though attendance has skyrocketed, Sanker makes a point that the energy hasn’t changed. The 30-somethings who came to play early on continue to take part in their 60s. Many a lasting relationship has bloomed here.
“People come in from around the world and they get to see their friends once a year,” he says. “It’s really a camaraderie and a community, and people see each other, who they haven’t seen the year before, and get reconnected with family and friends.”
White Party is a weekend of separately ticketed festivities. Sun-drenched poolside day clubs melt into strobe-lit dance sprees that thump until dawn. “We fly in DJs from all over the world,” Sanker says.
Past lineups have included names like Lady Gaga, Kesha, and Mary J. Blige. The main event takes over White Party Park, an area east of the Palm Springs Convention Center with a giant stage and rainbow-hued ferris wheel, for the Circus T-Dance. It’s the world’s largest outdoor tea dance, drawing thousands of guys, and it culminates in a massive fireworks display.
This year DJs Abel Aguilera and Ralphi Rosario will be spinning hits and gearing guests up for a special live performance by Belinda Carlisle. (We can pretty much guarantee Carlisle’s “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” will be stuck in your head all month long.)
It’s three days of revelry, so pace yourself, duck into a cabana for some beauty rest, then dive in the pool and do it all again.