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A History of the Gay Circuit Party: VIDEO


Posted online last week is Got 2B There a full 1998 documentary by Jose M. Torrealba examining the controversies and the spirit of the circuit party, with footage from the White Party (Palm Springs), the GMHC Morning Party (Fire Island), and Black & Blue (Montreal), and commentary from those for the parties, and opposed to them.


(via kenneth)

Got 2B There: A History of the Circuit Parties from Jose Manuel Torrealba on Vimeo.


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  1. "but the crux of my point has more to do with gay white male culture being a lot more narcissistic, image-obsessed, drug-abusing, and racist than it cares to acknowledge."

    Haters gonna hate.

    Posted by: Nat | Feb 20, 2012 9:07:03 PM

  2. @Atomic: every time I went to circuit parties and clubs, it was with at least two black friends, sometimes three (and often one female). One was morbidly obese but one of the most popular guys there. He knew everyone and had no fear approaching people. He often hooked up with incredibly hot white guys. There are no universal codes of conduct.

    Some people are jerks, some are not. Though I still have zero interest in watching this documentary. My main issue with circuit parties is that I don't like to stay at any club-like event for more than a couple hours, so they seemed endless. And yes, vacuous, because the music was so loud that you couldn't talk.

    Posted by: Paul R | Feb 20, 2012 9:22:45 PM

  3. As someone who was sent to some of the early Parties to review them critically, I can say they were summed up beautifully by a fairly unattractive man (who was surrounded by men who obviously thought they were 'lucky' to be able to hang out with this guy) who was wearing a shirt that said in bold letters: NO, I DON'T NEED ANY MORE FRIENDS.

    To say that this guy was a walking talking syphilitic sore would be an understatement.

    I was at this particular Party to see Ru Paul (an acquaintance) and while she was fierce the party was really disturbing. It was held in The Apparel Mart in ATL and it was the first place I ever saw barebacking in public.

    I went to wander the 'salons' after the show and was overwhelmed by the smell of Santorum and poppers. I was attempting to find my way out when I saw some 'gentlemen' engaged in bareback sex.

    It stopped me cold, and while turning to find another way out, found two more pods of guys doing the same thing.

    Were there nice guys there? I'm sure there were. But the spectacle and the smell will never leave my memory.

    Posted by: Seriously?Y | Feb 20, 2012 10:23:10 PM

  4. The white party and the circuit parties at Probe in L.A. were so tedious. Everyone becomes a gay stereotype robot - they all take their shirts off, they all start rubbing themselves and loving themselves and dance in a robotic haze without really connecting with anyone in a meaningful way. Unless you were a heavy crystal user these parties to me were boring.

    Posted by: ajjanthony | Feb 20, 2012 10:26:47 PM

  5. AJJANTHONY is right...circuit parties are tedious. tried two white parties and a couple of smaller events. if you weren't high on lab drugs or got caught with a beer in your hand, you were a pariah. i could get past the gate on appearance - at least back in the 90s when i went, forget it now - but it is impossible to connect with those guys unless you're high like them.

    also THE worst dj'ing ever. no sense of fun or humor. just soundtracks for the drugs in their head

    no need for more documentaries on these things...there's just no there, there

    Posted by: tim | Feb 21, 2012 12:01:35 AM

  6. @Nat: "Haters gonna hate." Wow, how articulate of you. Did all the drugs you took make you stupid, or were you just born that way?

    I have no envy for these tired old circuit queens, nor their self-obsessed, vapid lifestyle. It's laughable that anyone would want to defend them for all the self-destructiveness they have wrought. I'm not some milquetoast hermit who doesn't know how to have fun; far from it. But I look at a whole generation of gay men and see just how they decided to lose themselves in drugs and muscles and sex, rather than doing the hard work of fighting for their rights to be treated as equals. And the excuse is always the same--"oh, other guys were like that, but not ME." The level of denial would be comical were it not for the fact that it killed countless gay men or at least ruined their lives in the form of HIV or drug abuse, and that it continues to this day.

    So yeah, go on and flippantly say "haters gonna hate." Crystal meth makes you say anything, doesn't it? I'm not going to be a statistic. I plan to LIVE and face the real world like an adult.

    Posted by: atomic | Feb 21, 2012 3:28:15 AM

  7. "Wow, how articulate of you. Did all the drugs you took make you stupid, or were you just born that way?"

    I don't use recreational drugs of any kind. And did you not pick up any reading skills? I remarked in a previous comment that I could only watch the movie in small doses, because the vapidness would get to me.


    "I plan to LIVE and face the real world like an adult."

    I also don't fly off the handle because people choose to live their lives in different ways, including ways I find shallow and idiotic. It's not really my business if someone chooses to spend their weekend dancing shirtless and doing a bunch of drugs. So long as they contribute as a productive member of society (i.e. by working) and don't engage in risky behaviours that will affect others (i.e. barebacking), I see no reason to waste my time subjecting everyone else to my opprobrium. Go live your life, and stop getting so worked up about how others want to live theirs.

    Posted by: Nat | Feb 21, 2012 1:07:38 PM

  8. I have to say, having experienced this era in my mid-to-late 20s, that it was often a helluva a lot of fun. Was there irresponsible behavior? Too much drug use and abuse? An overemphasis on youth and beauty? Lives ruined? Undoubtedly. But at its best, the circuit provided an undeniable sense of community. You knew everyone; you danced with everyone; you had breakfast with everyone as the sun came up.

    And when I look at all the circuit regulars I knew then, they are all, by and large, still alive and well. Many are sober now or have simply given up the party scene. But none of us regrets having been a part of this magical experience, if only for a short time in our lives.

    Posted by: Adam Sank | Feb 21, 2012 2:50:51 PM

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