The Best of Parties 2009


EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday February 1, 2010

Given the anxieties and genuine hardships of 2009, it's a relief to finally tally up the year and find what was worthy of celebration. Hence the 2009 BEST OF EDGE: PARTIES Awards list-in which the best parties of 2009 are honored, not only for taking our minds off the hiccups of the real world, but for reminding us that all work and no play makes the world a nasty place. For, as Barbara Ehrenreich reminds us, it is when we come together to play that we find "collective joy"-and subconsciously honor all the good times and good peoples who have come before us. And now, without further ado, the winners of this year's best parties.


Bal en Blanc - Montreal, Canada

Each year, Montreal kisses winter goodbye and welcomes spring with a five-day, 15,000 person celebration culminating in Bal en Blanc, a stunning display of spectacular production values and an immense crowd of party people all immaculately attired in white-and this year’s 15th anniversary of Bal en Blanc, held at the Palais des Congres in downtown Montreal featured deejays Axwell, Armin Van Buuren, Victor Calderone, Markus Schulz, Ana Paula, and a cast of thousands in a heavenly setting of halcyon splendor.

2008 Winner: TOYBOX - Sydney, Australia
2007 Winner: BLACK & BLUE FESTIVAL - Montreal, Canada


Alegria Pride - New York, NY

Well in advance of Tim Burton’s upcoming version of Alice’s trip through the looking glass, producer Ric Sena orchestrated a magical mushroom psychedelic slide ride down the rabbit hole and into an Alegria Wonderland overseen by a magnificent beneficent Cheshire cat-as well as the Mad Hatter and the Red Queen, and a cast of surreally beautiful Alegria habitues-all cavorting deliriously to DJs Tony Moran and Abel’s turbo-charged sets, and particularly when the mother of all confetti drops commenced near the end of Deborah Cooper’s performance, leaving everyone in the room grinning as wide and uncontrollably as the Cheshire cat purring above us all. In one word: Purr-fection!

2008 Winner: ONE MIGHTY PARTY - Orlando, FL
2007 Winner: ALEGRIA XTREME 7 - New York, NY


Circuit Festival - Barcelona, Spain

With more than 30,000 people from all over the globe descending upon Barcelona for 10 days of sensational nonstop parties at the hottest venues, promoter Luca Farina and the dream team behind Circuit Festival delivered yet another phenomenal week of incredible events. Collaborating with some of the world’s biggest promoters including Rio’s The Week, Circuit Festival built on their past successes to deliver a juggernaut of a party festival. From the signature Olympic Stadium event with Chus & Ceballos to the famed Water Park Party and Beach Day in Sitges, the entire festival was one jaw-dropping event after another (even as ticket prices remained some of the most reasonable on the global circuit). An unforgettable experience that leaves everyone happy.

2008 Winner: CIRCUIT FESTIVAL - Barcelona, Spain


Winter Party Festival - Miami Beach, FL

With over 10,000 people for six days and nights of more than twenty parties and cultural events, Winter Party Festival, taking place in Miami and the Beaches, often has the feel of the world’s largest LGBT cruise. Now in its 17th year, Winter Party for the past six years has been run by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force which donates two-thirds of the proceeds back to Miami’s own Dade Community Foundation. Launched in 1994 as a one-time charity dance event to fight LGBT intolerance, Winter Party Festival to date, has raised more that $2 million to foster local LGBTQ service organizations-and this year’s Festival, spearheaded by the ebullient Winter Party Festival head, Chad Richter, and a passionately devoted corps of staff and volunteers proved again that out of many, we are one-united in pursuing equality, even when dancing.

2008 Winner: ONE MIGHTY WEEKEND - Orlando, FL
2007 Winner: WHITE PARTY - Miami, FL


Winter Party Festival - Miami Beach, FL

With an oceanfront setting nearly unrivalled for its tropical beauty and breathtaking views, and eye-popping visual décor (by wunderkind Kidd Madonny of RKM), and over 2,500 snowbirds flocking from South America, Europe, and all over the States, Winter Party Festival Pool Party at the Surfcomber resort is an annual paean to spring’s return-and this year’s edition swarmed with porn stars and reality stars, celebrities from A-list to D-list, and a pool full of mermen, all dancing to a fiercely intuitive set by DJ Roland Belmares that complemented the sunshine-and the sea of smiles. In short: an Edenic fantasy of halcyon idylls-and all the better for being a fundraiser for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

2008 Winner: WHITE PARTY PALM SPRINGS - Palm Springs, CA
2007 Winner: WINTER PARTY FESTIVAL - Miami, FL


White Party - Palm Springs, CA

For twenty years, Jeffrey Sanker has kept the boyz happy in the middle of the desert by creating a perfect utopian oasis-and this year’s White Party Palm Springs 20th anniversary kept everything good about the beloved t-dance-the rides, the ferris wheel, the fireworks-and turned it into an oceanic adventure, highlighted by a musical and pyrotechnic retrospective in honor of twenty years of White Party spectacle.

2008 Winner: SALVATION SUNDAYS - Miami, FL
2008 Winner: FRESH - San Francisco, CA
2007 Winner: WHITE PARTY PALM SPRINGS - Palm Springs, CA


Ascension - Fire Island Pines, NY

In the heat of summer, in the middle of August, on a sultry Sunday afternoon on one of the most fabled sandbars in the world, more than 4,000 revelers hit the beach on Fire Island Pines for Ascension. With a custom-built dance floor and an immense white pyramid, as well as its trademark reflecting, wading pool, freshly-sodded green lawn, and rows of elevated white cabanas, all spread over the recently re-sanded beach, Ascension, now in its fourth year, was a master class on beach chic and Fire Island style. A three-day, twelve-event fund-raising weekend, Ascension Weekend’s proceeds benefit both the Fund in the Sun Foundation, as well as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force-and this year’s beach party centerpiece had not only DJ Tony Moran, but also the crowd-pleasing appeal of Miss Kelly Rowland, who had the boys hanging from the cabana railings as she sang the summer anthem of all summer anthems, "When Love Takes Over." Truly, a lesson in why Fire Island Pines has so long maintained a hold on the gay imagination.

2008 Winner: PRIDE PIER DANCE - New York, NY
2007 Winner: ZOO PARTY - San Diego, CA


Voyeur Party - Los Angeles, CA

Just when you thought you’d seen it all, Jeffrey Sanker and Paul Nicholls unveil Voyeur. Inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, Hollywood’s hottest new party utilizes massive metal chandeliers with black leather drapery to create a visually mesmerizing noir atmosphere, highlighted by a cast of erotic performers in custom outfits. Now appearing twice monthly, Voyeur’s Sunday night sanctuary promises even more voyeuristic thrills throughout 2010.

2008 Winner: UNDERWEAR PARTY - Palm Springs, CA
2007 Winner: ZOO PARTY - San Diego, CA


Ric Sena - New York, NY

To inaugurate the tenth anniversary year of Alegria, Ric Sena returned his universally-acclaimed and globally-popular uber-party to one of its most beloved homes, M2, formerly Mansion, née Crobar-thereby ushering in a whole new chapter for the devoted denizens of one of the nightlife’s most beloved events. Now in its tenth year, Alegria has outlasted even the most sacrosanct of New York clubs and parties-even as Sena continues to burnish Alegria’s reputation with his masterful touch, creating jaw-dropping, mesmerizing theatrical environments for sixteen-hour events which showcase the lights, lasers, and sounds of a stable of musical and technical geniuses-as well as the ever-growing and fiercely loyal Alegria family. A legend in the making-happening now.

2008 Winner: RIC SENA - New York, NY


The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

With its founding in 1973, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) became the first national LGBT rights organization, utilizing grassroots mobilization to challenge injustice-and now, behind the charismatic leadership of its incandescent head, Rea Carey, the Task Force remains a formidable force in the pursuit of LGBT equality. Thanks to its six-year sponsorship of the Winter Party Festival, and the annual Recognition Dinner in Miami, the Task Force has channeled nearly $2 million into local LGBTQ service organizations-and as a supporter and beneficiary of Ascension Weekend in New York, the Task Force insures that even with one foot on the dance floor, we march toward.

2008 Winner: BBCM - Montreal, Canada


Lady GaGa

Like a meteor shooting across the night sky, Lady Gaga fell from the heavens and exploded onto the scene with enough ferocity and sheer indomitable willpower as to evoke at least two other bottle blonds who reshaped American culture, becoming legends in their own times. With performance-art genius and a string of hits that every remix producer tweaked and twisted into something even more hypnotic and contagious, Lady Gaga kept everyone gasping (and dancing) all year long.

2008 Winner: MAYA


When Love Takes Over

There are certain songs in certain years that become bigger than their six- or eight-minutes of fame allotted to them. Certain songs that take on a whole life of their own, a kind of cultural significance. Certain songs that take over the airwaves and the dance floors and the iPods-and this year, without a doubt, was the year When Love Takes Over. Right from its release in early spring, Kelly Rowland and David Guetta’s persuasively positive anthem put a smile on the face of every circuit boy and girl-and kept them dancing, hands in the air, right through to the end of the year. When Love Takes Over conquered all.

2008 Winner: AUTOMATIC (Lauren Kidd - Peter Rauhofer Mix)


"Ricky" Michael Perez - New York, NY

Whether dancing on the box at Splash, G Lounge, or the Box-for which he received a nomination as Best Go-Go Boy in NYC, or doing an impromptu onstage performance at the Pavilion (for which he delighted an entire crowd with his spontaneity), or flying through the air, "Ricky" Michael Perez is this year’s Clark Kent of the circuit: a genuine gentleman with a generosity of spirit and a superman body. Everywhere he appeared this year, whether in Miami, Manhattan, Fire Island, or sailing through the Mediterranean, "Ricky" Michael Perez embodied the best of the circuit with his ingratiating smile and his superhero virtues.

2008 Winner: HOLLY GOHEAVY - Miami, FL
2007 Winner: DJ JOE CARO - New York, NY


Pines Party - Fire Island Pines, NY

Endless Summer was the theme-as well as the desire of everyone who attended this 70’s style homage to surfboard culture, with DJs Mickey Friedmann and headliner DJ Paulo as head lifeguards. With board shorts and bonfires, and a VIP Surfside Lounge, this year’s Pines Party was a Bruce Weber fashion shoot for A&F, with cameos by Frankie and Annette, and Connie Francis. This was Beach Blanket Babylon and Where the Boys Are-with state-of-the-art sound and lights-all wrapped up into one summer of love all-night party produced by Josh Wood and the FIPPOA. This was Ibiza on Fire Island. This was Goa. This was the beach party of the summer. The perfect wave.

2008 Winner: WINTER PARTY FESTIVAL - Miami, FL
2007 Winner: WINTER PARTY FESTIVAL - Miami, FL


Divers/Cite - Montreal, Canada

Now in its 18th year, Montreal’s Divers/Cite is one of the world’s more extraordinary LGBT celebrations, with a weeklong schedule of parties,
cultural events, drag queen showdowns, outdoor film screenings, and some ofthe more diverse musical programming to be found in the gay world. Think Winter Music Conference mixed with a soupcon of Burning Man, and a healthy spoonful of Wigstock, as well as a whole lot of Pride, and you have a good idea why Divers/Cite attracts people from all over the world for events such as Mascara, the largest drag show on earth, and La Grande Danse, a massive 11-hour multimedia, outdoor event showcasing some of the planet’s more impressive deejays. Montreal’s always a ball-but rarely more so than during Divers/Cite when they paint the town pink.

Comments on Facebook