Taipei Pride: Partying Chinese Style
Taipei has undoubtedly become the epicenter of Pride in Asia. It hosts the largest Pride festival with reports ranging between 30,000-50,000 for the parade alone. This year I met and made friends with people from Japan, Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Singapore. I can’t wait to go back.
Friday - Adonis @ Club Space
There were two competing parties on Friday night. The one that I didn’t attend was a bear party called MDG x Woof at Club Jump. This was a traveling bear party from Japan with bear DJs and bear gogo boys. Think of Matinee going from Spain to New York or Las Vegas. I didn’t attend but I heard firsthand accounts and saw photos that showed that the club was beyond packed. Woof indeed.
The club that I did attend was called Adonis at Club Space. Adonis caters to the young and beautiful twinks a/k/a Circuit babies (and yes, they do exist). We arrived at about midnight but didn’t get into the club until about 12:50 because we had to wait until the cops received their bribes and declared that business can proceed.
As many in Asia can attest, partying in Asia can be a difficult situation because the correct authorities have to be contacted and approval must be given for the parties to go on. Right now the only two places where one can go for a gay old time is either Thailand or Taiwan. Taiwan is pretty much guaranteed that the party will go on after the minor details are taken care of.
Thailand is more of a crap shoot because the Ministry of Morality (or some other similar Orwellian title) may shut down the event or club the same day without any forewarning and leave you stranded with useless tickets, an empty evening and anything else you might have paid for.
Once the situation was taken care of at Adonis, we went downstairs past the ticket booth into a second level of basements before actually entering the club proper. Club Space is basically a rectangle, divided into one-third lounge and entry area when you first enter and two-thirds dance floor.
The third and final level dance floor level is relatively spacious. The left side has a very limited seating that is used for VIP service. The DJ booth with a very small stage in front is about 80 percent of the way back. Behind the DJ booth there is a small elevated walkway that leads to two larger private VIP rooms.
The music was a fun, bouncy, bombastic mix of top 40. Unfortunately, I was stuck outside and missed almost all of Taiwan DJ Shin’s set so I can’t give much of a review.
Malaysian DJ Louis T was second and the headliner of the evening. Louis gave a great set of diva’s -- everything from Adele to RoRo, Beyonce to J. Lo, with lots of Gaga. It was mixed in with some dubs that walloped a bit more of a punch. I could tell that this would be more of his signature sound if he was given free reign to do what he wanted. However, he kept consistent with the young audience and spun crowd pleasers.
He also had the unenviable job of trying to integrate four different performances to his set because it was prime time. Whether it was three über-cool Japanese boys as outer space cowboys and Indians meets leather posing and giving face; or seven Taiwanese boys in S&M wear lipsyncing Lady Gaga with enough energy to carry the audience into the next phase, Louis did an admirable job with the set of limitations he was presented with. Each group did two separate performances. Half the crowd literally stopped to watch and cheer each performance.
The closing DJ was a local DJ A Go. His was a very by the numbers top 40 remix set that was a lot of fun but signaled a bit of a drop in energy than his predecessor. However, the songs were very recognizable and made for a bit of fun sing-a-long.
The crowd was a younger crowd but enough Circuit boys to keep the evening fun. The club closed at 5 p.m. At its peak, there was probably a healthy 800 people in attendance. There were some boys who ended up waiting outside for over two hours while trying to get in.
Club Space is usually a straight club and not the typical venue for this event. I hope that they get the logistics straightened out so that it doesn’t happen again. Even so, it was a great start to a fantastic weekend.
Afterhours: Adonis Monster
There were afterhours on Saturday morning from 5 to 11 a.m. I didn’t attend because I wanted to be able to make the Taipei Pride parade starting at 2 p.m. Also, I wanted to save up enough energy to make both Follow Me at Jump on Saturday night and the crown jewel of the club scene in Taiwan, Luxy on Sunday morning. But if you wanted to party 12 hours on the first night, you had the option to do so.
Taipei Pride Parade
Taipei Pride parade is truly a unique event in Asia. Taiwan has a nondiscrimination law in its books so that protects people from being fired solely based on their sexual orientation. They also recently passed a law to teach about LGBT issues in their sexuality courses in school, only to get it rescinded by the conservative elements.
It’s an interesting situation because it was the Christian conservatives who let the battle. Buddhist and other religions didn’t have an issue with it.
The parade only started about a decade ago and it was with a handful of people wearing masks. Now there are nearly 50,000 participants. There are now Pride parades in four other Taiwanese cities besides Taipei. All in a country roughly the size of California.
The parade itself was wonderful, full of people celebrating differences . Everyone was in attendance: drag queens, leather folk, lesbians (sans bikes), bears ... the list went on and one. And it was a pleasure to be somewhere where the crowd was sincerely happy to be there, to see it and be part of a movement. There was no jadedness. No commercialization. Just people celebrating their community.
I am guilty in admitting that I didn’t see the entire parade or listen to the heartfelt speeches at the end. Or attend the free concert at the conclusion of the event given by a pop diva. The parade has outgrown itself and the city didn’t want to shut down entire streets so they split the parade in half and went down two different routes. There was just much going on. I only caught about 45 min of the two-hour-plus hour parade before heading back home to rest. I wanted to make sure that I was well rested for the night.