White Party’s return is music to the ears of tourism officials, past participants
By Rachel Lazor
An event that has seen everything from protests during its inception three decades ago to criticism just last year is expected to be welcomed back to Palm Springs when it returns later this month.
The White Party, a three-day circuit party, launched in 1989 as a gathering for friends of LA-based promoter Jeffrey Sanker, is expected to draw thousands of gay men back to a city many consider a second home. Businesses and tourism officials are eager to welcome them.
“It is such a pleasure to be able to have it on the books again,” said Shannon Anderson, general manager of Hilton Palm Springs, the host hotel, which is expected to sell out during the event’s April 29 to May 1 run.
COVID-19 and Sanker’s death in 2021 resulted in the event’s cancellation for the past two years. But Chris Diamond, a part-time city resident and friend of Sanker’s, said he expects the party to be back in full force during its run at the Hilton and elsewhere.
“We’re so excited to be back,” Diamond said recently. “I feel a great honor to continue the White Party as executive producer and to salute and honor my friend Jeffrey and make it bigger and better than ever as we progress through the years.”
While the years have been kind to the event – growing from 300 attendees to an estimated 30,000 in 2019 — the community hasn’t always been so kind.
In 1990, picketing by protestors opposed to gay men flocking to the city in large numbers, along with an uncooperative Palm Springs City Council, proved to be roadblocks for the event, but Sanker pushed forward.
Drug overdoses and citations for public sex were reported in the 2000s, tarnishing its reputation in the city. And in 2021, a New Year’s party thrown by Sanker’s White Party Entertainment, Inc. in Mexico was criticized for creating what some labeled a “super spreader event” in an area ill-equipped to handle large gatherings during the pandemic.
Palm Springs police said they expect few issues with the event this year. Similar to The Dinah, Splash House, and other music festivals catering to partygoers in the city, The White Party has implemented its own security and safety measures leading to fewer and fewer calls to the police each year.
“Historically, we have not had an unusual rise in crimes during White Party weekend,” said Palm Springs Police Department Capt. Mike Kovaleff.
The city has seen a rise in tourist dollars during the event. Diamond said attendees are expected to come from “all over the world” to dance the weekend away to music supplied by DJs and performers. In the past, performances have included surprise celebrity appearances by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande, to name a few. This year’s headliner is Paula Abdul.
“We anticipate the approximate economic impact to the destination, based on historical attendance, to be about $5.2 million,” predicted Randy Garner, senior marketing manager for Visit Palm Springs. The organization manages the Convention Center, which will host this year’s kickoff and closing parties and the Sunday T-Dance.
You can expect to find Bryan Vincent at those events.
Vincent, a Palm Springs resident, has been a White Party attendee since the beginning. He said he has fond memories and lasting friendships from his time at past parties.
“It served a purpose,” says Vincent, reflecting back on the early beginnings. “A need for a lot of people who wouldn’t have otherwise had a chance to be with a tribe or build a tribe.”
More information: For White Party details, including ticket availability and talent announcements, go to whitepartyglobal.com.
SURVIVORS HAVE SUPPORT OF ORG: The nonprofit group Where Is My Land has called for more action from the Palm Springs City Council over the issue of reparations for Section 14 survivors and their descendants. In a news release issued Monday, the organization’s CEO said the Council’s formal apology last year was long overdue, but that Council members need to listen to survivors about what they need, in addition to what the city’s Black community needs. The Council will discuss the issue at its Thursday meeting, and residents are encouraged to make public comments. Where Is My Land was integral in helping return a piece of Manhattan Beach property to the Bruce family after it was taken by eminent domain in the 1920s.
COMPLETE STORY: Influential organization aligns with Section 14 Survivors, calls for more action from City Council
PALM SPRINGS LOCAL HONORED: The Riverside County Board of Supervisors named Palm Springs resident Jerry Trussell volunteer of the year for his work with Community Action Partnership of Riverside County (CAP). CAP offers a variety of services, including tax preparation, notary services, mediation, and conflict resolution. Trussell has volunteered with CAP for 13 years and works in the mediation program. He also teaches classes on mediation for middle school and high school students. “There is nothing more gratifying than watching two people come into the mediation room being very upset at each other and walking out with a handshake and a great big smile,” Trussell said of his work.
CORRECTION: Yesterday, we misspelled the name of one of the people honored by The Desert Business Association (DBA) at an event. We called Palm Springs Pride President Ron deHarte — who we know well — “Rob” deHarte in the newsletter. We were able to catch it before hitting publish on the online version of The Daily Briefing, but not before more than 7,000 of your neighbors saw the error in the email. The Post regrets the error, and to show our remorse we are making a donation to several charities, as decided by readers in the “Typos For Charity” poll we ran yesterday. If you spot a name flub let us know and we’ll keep the cash flowing to local causes. Common grammar errors, of which there are several each week, do not qualify.
? Today’s events
- The Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters are having coffee at Koffi at 8 a.m., then have two other events planned today.
- Jazz on the 2nd Floor runs from 5 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the Palm Springs Cultural Center.
- The Palm Springs Sustainability Commission meets on Zoom at 5:30 p.m. tonight.
- The Architectural Review Committee meets on Zoom at 5:30 p.m. tonight.
- Toastmasters starts at 6 p.m. Check here for information, including a special offer for subscribers to The Post.
For more events in Palm Springs, check out our complete community calendar. Want your event listed? Just click here to add you event.
? What to watch for
- The Mizell Center’s 3rd Wednesday Speakers Series presents a panel discussion titled “Jazz in Palm Springs: Past, Present & Future” on Wednesday, starting at 6 p.m.
- The Palm Canyon Theatre’s next production, Monty Python’s Sir Spamalot, runs April 22 through May 1.
- A shredding and e-waste collection event is scheduled for Saturday, April 23, from 8 a.m. until Noon outside Palm Springs City Hall.
- The Annual Preservation Matters Symposium is scheduled for this weekend, April 23 and 24, at Palm Springs Convention Center.
- The next Lez Out Loud comedy show is slated for April 23. Emcee and Comedian Mina Hartong is joined by two other comedians during the event at Runway Bar and Grill.
- The Books vs. Badges charity basketball game between Palm Springs High teachers and staff and Palm Springs Police Department officers is scheduled for April 26 at the high school gym.
- A third community meeting regarding the planned homeless navigation center along McCarthy Road is being held virtually 5:30 p.m. on April 27.
- Desert Winds Freedom Band has its next performance on Sunday, May 1
- The Palm Springs International Jazz Festival is scheduled for the weekend of May 14 and 15 at the historic Plaza Theatre in Downtown Palm Springs.