KARON: Nearly 2,000 people, mostly from Thailand, Singapore, Japan and the US, joined the first day and night of Asia’s largest gay and lesbian party, the three-day Nation V, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel yesterday.
The event features nine parties, each with a different theme, with 18 DJs from Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the USA, Malaysia and Australia manning the turntables.
Events kicked off with a welcome reception at the Crowne Plaza poolside from 3 pm to 6 pm yesterday, followed by the G.Y.M. Welcome Party at the hotel from 9 pm to 3 am and the Locker Room Party in the ballroom from 3:30 am to 8 am.
The Kata-Karon Municipality had previously approved the use of Karon Stadium for this, the fifth annual Nation party. However, concern about the possibility of heavy rain led to events being switched instead to the Crown Plaza Hotel.
Stuart Koe, CEO of organizers Fridae, told the Gazette, “This is a huge success for Phuket. People are flying in from all over the world, not just Asia, to celebrate this party.”
He added, “Partying in Phuket is different from the Singapore scene because we have the exclusive use of Crown Plaza Hotel, so it’s almost like we’re one big family.
“They [partygoers] will spend the next three days together, making friends and enjoying Phuket. In Singapore, it is just one party per night; a different concept and a different event.”
After the license application for this year’s festival was rejected by Singapore, Singapore’s Minister of Health was quoted as saying that concern among Singaporeans about foreigners attending the festival speading HIV was a factor in the decision.
Mr Koe said, “Singapore is not mature culturally and socially with regards to gay people, so discrimination was part of it. The Health Ministry made some bad comments that reflected badly on the party.
“As for health concerns, we believe that this type of event is important because it is an opportunity to reach out to the community with HIV awareness.
“We are working with three organizations in Thailand – the Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, and Patong Hospital – to provide HIV awareness, to make sure that everybody is aware of HIV and is safe when they are here and when they go home.”
He added, “Once the Phuket community sees how professionally we can run this, they’ll see that it is no different from hosting a corporate trip or a family holiday.
“We would very much like to continue [holding the Nation party] in Phuket because the event has so far has been welcomed by people here. We have established a good understanding with everybody – the Governor, the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Karon Municipality, the police, local businesses and the community.
“It’s hard to find a place that has everything – all the pieces. We think Phuket is ideal. We feel we would like to … come back.”
TAT Phuket Office Director, Suwalai Pinpradab, said, “If someone comes here for the first time and is impressed, they will come back again. We think it would be a pleasure to host this event again.”
Today’s events include the Sanctuary Pool Party from noon to 6 pm, the Nation V Party from 9 pm to 3 am and the Insomnia Party from 3:30 am to 8 am tomorrow.
Later tomorrow, the Splash T Dance Party by the Crowne Plaza pool will start at noon and run until 6 pm, while the closing party will take place from 9 pm to 3 am tomorrow.
A final Morning Party will begin half an hour later, ending at 8 am Monday.
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