Mention the word ‘Songkran’ to anyone familiar with Thailand and their thoughts inevitably turn to the water fight mayhem on the streets of Silom, Khao San, Chiang Mai, and Pattaya, along with reports and photos of foreigners (and some Thais) partaking with too much enthusiasm and generally behaving badly.
What the mainstream media and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) don’t tell you about is the alternate Song Kran – a festival for the gay community that runs in parallel with the April water festival, but which is streets removed from internationally circulated images of people in dripping wet clothes with faces caked in white powder. This is glam with a capital G and lavish with three capital ‘L’s’.
That the gay community in Thailand – by far the world’s most gay friendly and marketable country – embraces the annual water festival with vigour should come as no surprise to anyone. Gay people the world over rave about Thailand year round. Gay tourists are drawn to the country in increasing numbers to luxuriate in its exuberant gay scene.
Local entrepreneurs and businesses have been quick to cash in on the increasing amount of ‘pink dollars’ up for grabs with gay-specific events mushrooming in recent years. One of the biggest and best patronised of these is the annual Song Kran festival, held this year for the tenth time by gCircuit, which claims to be Asia’s premier gay party organiser.
As in past years Song Kran 10 comprised a series of different events, all with a different ‘theme’ – Madonna Special, Glam Gala, Olympus (opening party), Bear Soap Bear Pool Party, Boy Soap, Boy Pool Party I & II, Dynasty (the main party) and Prism (the closing party) — and different dress-codes: sporty, imperial red, cool eye-wear, etc.
Lavish venues & loads of hunky men
Venues ranged from lavishly decked-out conference halls to swimming pools at some of Bangkok’s top 5-star hotels, with high-profile international deejays and extravagant light and sound productions at each galvanising the festive atmosphere.
|The Prism (closing) Party for Song Kran 10 at Bangkok’s CentralWorld was as equally lavish and glamorous as the opening party. Video uploaded to YouTube by Poppory Fashion Blog|
While the lights, music, and safe venues are all prime draw cards, what makes the annual Song Kran festival in Bangkok especially special are the participants. Each event over the four days is jam-packed with well-built – to be specific elegantly muscular – men; both as participants and as product presenters.
This cookie-cut stereotyping is represented across all of the gCircuit Song Kran marketing material and there is little doubt that these events are aimed at the high-end ‘body beautiful’ segment of the gay market.
Dual pricing, transvestites and corporate good
while the theme might be boys, boys, and hunky men, as in past years it was transgenders with their larger than life personalities who stole much of the spotlight, particularly at the drag-queen beauty competition, which seems to be a slapstick-comedy performance and contest rolled into one.
While the glam and lavishness are reflected in ticket prices which begin at Bt1,800 (US$51) per event for Thais (yes, gCircuit have a dual pricing policy which see’s non-Thais pay up to 33 per cent more) and Bt2, 400 ($68) for non-Thais; and VIP all access passes costing Bt12,000 ($338), it’s not entirely about hedonistic pleasure.
During the week gCircuit announced that its Glam Gala formal dinner evening held during Song Kran 10 had raised a total of Bt3,142,000 ($88,619). After deducting expenses the event generated a net profit of Bt1,474,500 ($41,588) which the organised topped up to Bt1,500,00 ($42,307) of which Bt1 million ($28,204) will be donated to the Thai Aids Society and Bt500,000 ($14,102) to the Poz Home Foundation for its HIV/ Aids counselling, hotline, clinic and home visitation service.
gCircuit declined to be interviewed for this story.
Feature video Poppory Fashion Blog
- The 101 cuties seen at Songkran 2016, the hottest and wettest festival in Asia (Gay Star News)
- gCircuit Gears Up for Asia’s Largest Gay Dance Music Festival – Songkran (OUTtv)