Circuit Training: 5 Circuit Parties to Gear Up For

New York's World Pride and Circuit Festival Miami will both be held for the first time.

The modern-day gay circuit party can likely trace its early origins back to the 1970s gay disco parties that took place in large-scale venues, but were typically limited to a single night. However, it is the opening of The Saint nightclub in New York City in 1980 that has been largely cited as the genesis of the circuit party as we know them today.

Located in the East Village, The Saint was a male members-only club that quickly became most widely known for monthly themed events like the “Black Party” and the “White Party” that attracted celebrities and gay men from around the world.

By their heyday in the 1990s, circuit parties had become highly produced, multi-day dance events that attracted thousands of (mostly) gay men with their elaborate stage shows, celebrity performers, and star DJs. However, after a significant decade of decline that began in 2000, the circuit party has begun to see a bit of a resurgence in this decade with the emergence of new powerhouse events happening in cities worldwide.

Here, five of the most notable U.S. circuit parties on the horizon:

  1. Photo courtesy of Southern Decadence.

    New Orleans’s largest gay event, which takes place over Labor Day weekend, turns 47 this year and, once again, will dominate the French Quarter with parties like the Welcome Party and Big Dick Contest; the After Dark party that runs from 9pm until dawn and features headliners Deborah Cox and Jennifer Holliday; and the Boys on Parade.

  2. Photo courtesy of Circuit Festival

    This year, the New World has one more thing to be thankful for: Barcelona’s Circuit Festival, the largest international gay event that has been going strong since 2008, heads to Miami Beach with a four night/ three-day party over Thanksgiving weekend. The festivities begin on Thursday, November 22 (aka Thanksgiving night) with a cocktail reception on the rooftop of the host hotel, the Clevelander, followed by an opening night party with DJs Maikal Venek and Ana Paula. Other events include Matinee’s Pervert Party at Club Space; an American football-themed Matinee Champions party at Soho Studios; and, the La Leche Beach Party featuring men in Speedos as far as the eye can see.

  3. Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

    The White Party celebrates its 30th anniversary next year. The annual event, which will take place April 26-29, 2019, attracts more than 30,000 LGBTQ attendees to the Southern California desert as well as some of the biggest headliners in the business, including Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Lopez, Kesha, Mary J. Blige, and most recently, Kylie Minogue.

  4. Photo by Beck Starr/FilmMagic

    The Dinah, one of the world’s largest events for queer women, ramped things up this year with a program that included film screenings, talkbacks and meet-and-greets, in addition to a packed roster of dance parties and live music acts. We expect no less from them in 2019.

  5. Photo courtesy of Circuit Festival

    Next year, New York will be the first U.S. city to host World Pride and, to celebrate, the Big Apple will see the return of three of its favorite events—M.E.A.T., Matinée and LUVBOAT—with Barcelona’s Circuit also being added for good measure. World Pride will take place June 28-30.

Bryan van Gorder usually writes about the places he's been or the famous people forced to talk to him.
@bvangorder