“Right off the bat, the first year, it was the largest gay New Year festival in Asia, ever,” says Blue Satittammanoon, the producer and organizer of White Party Bangkok. “And this year is already going to be bigger than last.”
Not bad for a debut circuit festival, which saw over 12,000 people in its first year in 2016. It joined the Asian party circuit, which includes events like Song Kran in Bangkok, Shangri-La in Tokyo, and I:M in Seoul. This year’s White Party is this New Year’s Eve weekend from Friday, Dec 30 through Sunday Jan 1.
The Bangkok extension is the first official White Party outside of North America. Sanker is a partner who brings his experience as the “Circuit Master” and helps select talent for the event.
Coincidentally, Satittammanoon’s got his nightlife education in Canada, where he was the marketing director of Celebrities Nightclub in Vancouver for five years. During his tenure, he worked with the likes of Boy George, Deborah Cox, David Guetta and Tiesto. He was also the marketing director for OUTtv, and worked on five seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race. If anyone was going to make this festival a hit, it was Satittammanoon.
Through these experiences, he also got to know Sanker.
The first White Party that he attended in Palm Springs was in 2011, where Robyn headlined. “It was my first major circuit party and it was everything,” he told me. “I have never seen so many gays in one place. It was an experience I would never forget.”
“When I moved back to Thailand, I thought there’s an opportunity to do another big gay festival here,” Satittammanoon says. “I knew the [White Party] brand well. It’s one of the longest running circuit parties in the world. It’s been around for almost 30 years.”
It’s also not hard to understand why a massive circuit festival introduced in 2016 would really take off in a city like Bangkok. As is, it has an exciting party scene pretty much every night of the week. On Silom Soi 2, you’ll find the famous DJ Station, which has a packed dance floor even on a Monday night, and of course there’s the infamous GOD after hours on Silom Soi 2/1, where you can dance to circuit tunes all night and into the morning, seven days a week.
“The party scene in Bangkok is amazing,” he says. “There’s nothing like Silom Soi 2.”
“People are really accepting here. That’s, I think, one of the reasons why Thailand is such a destination for LGBT tourists in the region.”
Satittammanoon also attributes the success of White Party Bangkok to its line-up. This year, it features talent such as Tom Stephan, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Nacho Chapado, and Shangela from RuPaul’s Drag Race. They also have Andrew Christian models to make you wish you had hit the gym a little harder.
Since the theme of the party is simple — white — it makes it easy for everyone to participate, particularly those who don’t normally dress-up. Put on a white tank top, at the very least, and you’re done.
“Some people really make an effort,” he explains. “It makes the parties a lot more fun too.”
The Military Ball on Friday, Dec 30 encourages people to dress in military-inspired outfits. Easy enough, given the number of street vendors in Bangkok that sell army fatigues. “It’s the darkest and sexiest night,” he adds. “The music is a little bit harder than other two nights.”
The New Year’s Eve party on Saturday, Dec 31, 2016 is all about the bright colors, and the daytime Jock Ball on Sunday, Jan 1 encourages sexy sportswear. The main event is on Sunday night: White Party Bangkok.
Despite Satittammanoon importing many elements of the North American circuit culture, he still keeps the vibe local, which is perhaps another key to its success. “Last year we had a drag queen from the US, Flava,” he says. “We had her arrive on the stage in a tuk-tuk. That kind of thing makes it unique so you have the Thai flavor that you don’t see anywhere else.”