For immediate release
Famed for organising the annual Nation parties in Sentosa, Singapore since 2001 which has attracted international recognition and accolades, Fridae conceptualised the first Squirt party which was to be held in April 2002 but had to be postphoned due to the Asian SARS crisis. The party was eventually held in June the same year and renamed Boys of Summer. In April 2003, Squirt was held at Sentosa's Palawan Beach.
Organisers say the Thai capital was chosen for its reputation as one of Asia 's most popular cities among travelers from the region and further a field, and large numbers of tourists are expected from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. The event has also been timed to coincide with the Thai New Year festival of Songkran, which is very popular with tourists and is known the world over for its unique characteristic tradition of sprinkling or dousing friends - and sometimes, even strangers - with water as part of the festivities.
Dr Stuart Koe, chief executive of Fridae, said the decision to hold Squirt in Bangkok is not a result of Singapore authorities turning down a permit for a Christmas party last December but to increase its profile in the region. "We have been planning to regionalise our events and marketing for some time, and 2005 marks the year when we begin our regional push. Not only will our members begin to enjoy Fridae Events in cities around Asia, Fridae is also "Empowering Gay Asia" as media partner to most of the major event organisers in the region."
Despite the recent media blitz about a senior health minister quoting a hypothesis linking the Nation parties and an increasing number of HIV infections in Singapore, organisers and HIV/AIDS groups say that large-scale parties provide a good opportunity to get the safer sex message across to party-goers.
"Our parties are about celebrating diversity, unity and pride. Many attending previous Fridae parties have reported an overwhelming feeling of empowerment and self-affirmation. Contrary to alternative views, events such as Nation, Snowball and Squirt are highly effective venues to do HIV prevention and outreach work. These communities are often marginalised, alienated and difficult to reach, but the parties, which bring together thousands, make spreading safe sex messages far more effective and timely," Koe said.
Action for AIDS' programme director and MSM programme coordinator, Roger Winder said: "AfA has enjoyed a very cordial and fruitful relationship with Fridae.com because the latter has always been very willing and often proactive in taking steps to raise HIV/AIDS awareness and reducing transmission rates."
"We have had volunteers at almost all the parties, distributing safe sex packs and material except for the last Nation party when the authorities shut our booth down. It is hard to say for sure what the impact of this was but we were certainly robbed of one golden opportunity to raise HIV/AIDS awareness and encourage safer sex practices," Winder said, referring to an AfA booth which was shut down by authorities at Nation last year.
Nation.V has been scheduled for 5 to 7 August, and organisers are currently in the process of seeking the necessary government approvals.
Squirt is sponsored by Tiger Beer.
Songkran Pool Party
Thursday, April 14, 2005 from 5 to 8pm
THB300 [first 950 guests receive a free Tiger Beer.]
Organised by Babylon and prizes are sponsored by Fridae. Tickets are available at the outlet. Click for more info.
Squirt in Bed
Friday, April 15, 2005 from 6pm till late
THB700 / S$35
Venue: Bed Supperclub
Address: 26 Soi Sukhumvit 11, Bangkok
Slurp Post Party
Saturday, April 16, 2005 from 3pm to midnight
THB400 / $20