By all accounts Alter Ego’s recently held event Planet Fierce was not only well attended but fabulously appointed. It should be noted that between the Twitter updates, the facebook notifications and the calls at 4 a.m. the following Sunday morning to advise that this event must be the Party of the Year, a picture has been painted of an event that was simply an other-worldly affair. Truth be told, the year is only 5 months old and as such it may be premature to classify this event as the party of the year. Further, we are still awaiting Fierce and Company’s debut or even yet the grand opening of Club After Glow. However, it is very clear that Planet Fierce is the best party to date, and if Venice’s 2009 Valentines Party is anything to go by, it is in stratospheric company.
The team and management of Alter Ego must be congratulated for executing an event that clearly exhibited thought and planning. In the first instance they choose a date that coincided with the close of examinations for students at the universities. The impact of this date selection is that it was well attended by the young, glitterati party-goers- desperate to unleash their pent up exam induced energies on the dance-floor. Undoubtedly the releasing of energy, had much to do with the sexually charged and excitable vibe that one commentator described as permeating the air. Secondly, they selected a location that is easily one of Kingston’s best kept romantic secrets but more importantly so far up in the hills that the noise police wouldn’t bother to encroach. Thirdly, they did not engage in any flights of fancy and bring in any green and untested dee-jays but rather stuck with the tested and proven premium party dee-jay of choice. Notably, the dee-jay was apparently so good that there are still some persons that are dancing and gyrating to the memories of his selection at Planet Fierce, 1 week later.
The jury is still out on the GUTC bus service as some respondents to our queries have commented that Alter EGO got it right. Yet others have described it as an experience never to be repeated. In any event had Alter Ego gotten the bus service to be an enjoyable experience then their team would have been staffed by miracle workers and demi-gods. To be fair, who in the Caribbean likes riding on anything remotely resembling public transportation? Moreover, the need to develop a specific bus service to ferry people around St. Andrew does raise the question of long term suitability of the venue, and at a cost J$500 utterly unsustainable given that is the cost of a trip from Kingston to at least Ocho Rios even in the dead of night. Let us not forget that it is more than a distinct possibility that the need for a bus service arose not out of a sense of concern for the transportation needs of patrons that lacked their own motor vehicles but because parking was limited and very tight. One member of the PINK POSSIE that was at the event noted that:
“The shuttle service was a good idea for those who did not have vehicles or ride, but was not effective, a number of persons were seen sitting on the road outside the venue waiting for their shuttle to come and pick them up, and with the locations past history, the organizers should have taken into consideration that patrons who are obviously gay should have boarded the shuttle service before morning falls….Some patrons were angered at the fact that they couldn’t ‘Jump’ into their vehicles and leave in case a situation should arise, but what a lot of persons didn’t know, was that the shuttle service was put in place to reduce the traffic and the attention of the residents and to save vehicle owners from damage to their cars.”
Our greatest disappointment though with the event occurred in its marketing. Our readers will recall that in March we publicly supported the move by Alter Ego to restrict men from attending the event because of the incidences of violence at Rainbow events. Yet notwithstanding the support we indicated then, two reservations. These were that:
- The policy needed refinement as essentially good and decent men may end up being barred precisely because of a lack of connections
- The policy was gender biased as women can and sometimes are perpetrators of violence
Readers will also recall that at PINK we argued that a BLOCK LIST be developed as a more effective tool in banishing the perpetrators of violence from amongst our midst.
At PINK we were even in support of Alter Ego’s initial positive list approach. This approach saw men known to the management of Alter Ego being allowed to add persons (other men) to the list of invitees. Thus it would be the person’s behaviour at the event that would disqualify them from future events. We were thus dismayed when on the Saturday of the event Alter Ego decided to squarely restrict male cross dressers and drag queens, implicitly blaming that group for violence. The test of the weakness of this policy is to merely ask one question, suppose the men that cross dress and appear in drag came to the event dressed according to societal definitions of masculinity would they be any less violence proned or violent?
The answer to the above question is obviously no, hence in spite of Alter Ego’s loudest protestations the policy is nothing short of ignorant, intolerant and perpetrates a form of cultural apartheid. We here at PINK will not presume to tell Alter Ego whom they can and cannot invite to their parties. However, if the issue is about violence, keep it there! Further in our society the male transgendered community gets lumped in with cross dressers and drag queens, this is a group that already has battles to deal with as it regards legal identity thus it is unfair to further marginalize them by saddling them with the specter of violence.
As a community we must never forget that the battle for social inclusion and tolerance is not just the job of JFLAG, JAS, the Red Cross or even officers of the Ministry of Health. It is everyone’s responsibility. We must instinctively fight the temptation to become bigoted for in so doing we lose our moral authority. On the one hand we cannot ask for tolerance and social inclusion and then on the other hand seek to actively perpetrate a system of separateness. It was indeed ironic that a fight did occur at the event and did not involve anyone with a certifiable penis, but a female.
Sadly, Alter Ego’s marketing has made it clear that JAS’s public education programme about tolerance needs to include the Guild of Party Promoters