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Circuit Parties  
 
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Circuit parties refer to an ongoing series of gay-themed events that take place in major metropolitan areas throughout the year. Circuit parties get their name from those who travel to various cities throughout the world--making the ''circuit''--to attend several parties each year.

The gay circuit is considered an offshoot of the early 1990s rave movement, which had died out by the late 1990s. Circuit parties are characterized by huge crowds with multiple DJs spinning various permutations of house music, elaborate lighting and decoration, live musical or theatrical performances, acrobatics, nudity, and glow-stick waving. In recent years, gay activist groups have attacked circuit parties and attendees known as "circuit boys" for abundant drug use and unsafe sexual practices.

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Each event is celebrated over at least a three-day period and sometimes longer during holidays. The parties often have a color theme, and feature dancing through the night and into the next day. Frequently, circuit parties have a number of related events, not all of them dance parties.

The dances usually have one or multiple DJs. A DJ leads a circuit party in the way a clergyman guides a religious event. The premise of every party is that the DJ conducts the musical journey. The general type of music depends on the nature of the event, and can range from tribal to house to trance.

The web site Circuit Noize provides details of all the parties throughout the year and posts pictures of attendees. Also, Circuit Noize produces a quarterly print magazine that details party events and schedules.

Some lesbians and some older men attend circuit parties, but they are distinct minorities. Circuit parties usually attract thousands of mostly young, mostly white gay men who dance all night. Some lesbians attend lesser known women-only circuit parties, such as Aqua Girl in Miami.

Frequently, a percentage of admission fees to circuit parties is donated to AIDS-prevention groups or gay youth programs. Indeed, some parties on the circuit originated as fund-raisers for gay charities. Circuit parties have raised millions of dollars for AIDS research, prevention, and services. On the other hand, some party promoters organize events that benefit only the organizers.

Circuit Boys

Circuit boys are those young gay males who attend the parties. They are described as the new millennium's version of the late 1970s gay clone--muscled, tan, and usually with a few tattoos. They are known for spending hours in the gym, sometimes working out twice a day, to attain that perfect body to display at circuit events. Many circuit boys go on low carb diets to make sure they have washboard abs.

Some circuit boys report using steroids as part of their workout regimes for the events. The joke goes that you can tell a circuit boy by what he is wearing: usually a red pair of Structure cargo pants, an Abercrombie tank top, and white 2Xist briefs. Or the fact that he eats tic tacs for breakfast. This joke is in reference to the large amount of recreational drugs consumed at the parties instead of actual food.

Drug Usage and Unsafe Sex

A 2001 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of 295 men who had attended circuit parties within the previous year indicated that 95% of them took at least one illegal drug at a party. The survey found that the men's favorite party drugs were Ecstasy (also known as ''X'' or "E"), which gives users a sense of well-being and unlimited energy but also can cause brain damage; the anesthetic ketamine (''Special K''); the sedative gamma hydroxybuterate (GHB); and the stimulant crystal methamphetamine ("Crystal" or "Tina").

The survey also revealed that 28% of the men reported having sex without condoms on circuit party weekends. The practice of unsafe sex by many young men at circuit parties has caused many gay charity groups to no longer sponsor circuit parties or to accept money from party promoters.

For example, in 1998, New York's Gay Men's Health Crisis announced that it would no longer accept money from Morning Party promoters after a party attendee overdosed on GHB. GMHC stated at the time, "We have found that the reputation for this particular fund-raiser as a drug party and the alarming level of drug taking that occurs are incompatible with our mission of preserving the health of the community." Michelangelo Signorile, in Life Outside, comments that the Morning Party became "known for its intense drug use."

Jeffrey Sanker

Jeffrey Sanker is considered the largest circuit party promoter in the United States. He is behind circuit parties such as Snow Ball in Miami, the White Party in Palm Springs, and One Mighty Party during Gay Days at Disney. It has been said that if you are a gay DJ, the only two people you ever want to meet are Madonna and Jeffrey Sanker.

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