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Top gay circuit party organiser quietly goes ahead with days-long New Year’s bash even as coronavirus cases soar

Josh Milton January 3, 2021
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Jeffrey Sanker (R) poses backstage at Jeffrey Sanker's White Party on April 25, 2015 in Palm Springs, California. (Chelsea Lauren/WireImage)

One of the US’s top gay circuit party organisers has fielded intense criticism for holding a New Year’s bash in Mexico, leapfrogging over a state’s coronavirus restrictions to do so even as cases nationwide rocket.

Jeffrey Sanker is the founder of White Party Enterainment Inc, which hosts, among others, the largest circuit party in the US in Palm Springs, California.

While Sanker postponed the Palm Springs bash, he went ahead with days-long event WP Unity, held from Wednesday (30 December) to Friday (1 January), alongside a Sunday (3 January) beach party in Mexico, its Eventbrite page said.

But in doing so, the Los Angeles Blade reported, Sanker hopscotched around Mexico’s patchwork of state-regulated coronavirus restrictions. Relocating the event from Jalisco, where public events are capped to eight people or less, to the comparatively more relaxed Nayarit.

It comes after a gay party cruise packed with 60 people in Jalisco capsized on New Year’s Eve.

Gay circuit partygoers prohibited from photographing New Year’s celebrations as coronavirus cases in Mexico mushroom 

The circuit party was initially set to be in Puerto Vallarta, a coastal resort town in Jalisco, according to earlier advertisements. But the event was shuttered after the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board notched up restrictions, a state official told the Blade.

“Per the current state government mandate related to COVID-19, all private and public events of more than eight people are strictly forbidden,” they said.

“All public festivities in the state of Jalisco have been cancelled, including the previously promoted White Party Weekend at Mantamar Beach Club & Sushi.”

As a result, Sanker shifted WP Unity some nine miles north to the town of Nuevo Vallarta, in the neighbouring state of Nayarit, according to a leaked message sent to ticket-holders via Eventbrite.

 

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Unlike Jalisco, Nayarit does not have tight restrictions on large gatherings, but Nayarit health officials informed the outlet that they planned to “closely monitor” the circuit party.

The address was changed, the Eventbrite message showed, to the event space Eventos Palmeiras and organisers requested that attendees “do not post [the adress] or give it out as this is a private event for our guests and do not want this getting out and causing any issues with the public.”

Organisers also sought to stress to partygoers that they do not take photographs or video footage outside of “designated areas” while attending. “If you see someone taking video,” it read, “please report security so that the appropriate action can be taken.”

An Eventos Palmeiras staffer confirmed to the Blade on that the circuit party was set to go ahead as planned and was “sold out. We will be reminding everyone that it’s polite to wear a mask and stay six feet away during the party.

“If they have a temperature we intend to suggest they go home, but we can not force them to stay at home.”

A general view at the at Jeffrey Sanker’s 2018 White Party on April 28, 2018 in Palm Springs, California. (Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)

Similar warnings were outlined on the event page, in which temperature checks, limited venue capacity and “mandatory masks required for entry to all venues” were stated. “We are doing our part to keep guest safe and encourage you to do your part as well,” it concluded.

The event quickly became a lightning rod for criticism, WeHo Times reported. “Hey Jeffrey Sanker, our gente in Mexico are dying from COVID-19,” Eddie Martinez, Hunting Park, California, city councillor and executive director of the Latino Equality Alliance and Mi Centro, wrote on Facebook.

“Do the right thing and cancel your circuit party in Puerto Vallarta for NYE or we will target and boycott your future Palm Springs White Party sponsors.”

As much as COVID-19 continues to shatter daily records and its hospitals clogged and overwhelmed, added to Mexicos’ list of woes, an influx of Americans.

Tens of thousands in the US have fled to Mexico across October and November 2020, according to official figures, fuelling concern among already exhausted public health officials. Some news reports have even linked American tourists to outbreaks.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already advised Americans to avoid all travel to Mexico, which carries the fourth-highest death total from COVID-19 in the world.

PinkNews contacted Jeffrey Sanker for comment.

Related topics: Coronavirus, gay circuit party, Jeffrey Sanker, Mexico, US

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