Jeffrey Sanker, Innovative Impresario Who Founded the White Party and Created the Contemporary Gay Circuit Party, Is Dead

Jeffrey Sanker, the innovative impresario who founded the legendary White Party in Palm Springs, California and is largely credited with creating what we now know as contemporary gay circuit parties is dead at 65.

The cause was liver cancer sources said.

According to the Los Angeles Blade: The 65 year old West Hollywood resident had built his company and reputation on hosting large scale parties in exotic places, including Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco, Mexico, Las Vegas, Nevada and Miami, Florida although his trademark extravaganza, White Party Palm Springs, had evolved into the nation’s largest gay dance music festival, attracting more than 30,000 attendees from every corner of the globe.

As word of his death spread on social media late Friday, tributes to Sanker flowed in. In a text to the Blade, former West Hollywood City Councilmember John Duran noted, “Jeffrey was a long time friend. He was an iconic figure in gay history with his creation of the White Party. For many gay men, he created a space for them to find their tribe and sexuality. While he had his critics – he loved his gay community and left a lasting mark.  So many of us found a place to belong because of his vision.”

LGBTQ political activist James Duke-Mason told the Blade, “I heard [about Sanker]. Horrible news. Some of the best times of my life at White Party. Jeffrey was a great friend to me and to the community. Devastating loss.”

Despite the lamentations, Sanker was widely derided and criticized for the planning and execution of at least two “super spreader” events throughout last years COVID-19 pandemic.

Towleroad: Southern California-based promoter Jeffrey Sanker is going ahead with a weekend of gay circuit party events in Puerto Vallarta, defying COVID rules in the Mexican state of Jalisco (where all public festivities have been canceled and gatherings of more than 8 people have been forbidden) by moving his party to the neighboring state of Riviera Nayarit.

The Blade reported last December: “Ending one of the deadliest months in the nearly year long coronavirus pandemic, as well as the year 2020 itself, gay circuit party impresario Jeffrey Sanker’s Palm Springs based White Party Entertainment is throwing a New Years Eve weekend bash- in Mexico, despite recommended Mexican public health guidelines and COVID-19 mandates.”

The event has drawn massive mostly negative reaction and condemnation in social media posts, and online as well prompting authorities in Puerto Vallarta in the Mexican state of Jalisco, where the White Party was originally advertised as being held, to strongly remind partygoers and organisers that the city and the surrounding region were observing COVID-19 restrictions that would prohibit any type of mass gathering.

Mexico has experienced more than 126,000 deaths from COVID-19 and is also currently experiencing a new rapid surge.  Nearly 13,000 new cases were reported Wednesday with 990 deaths. The state of Jalisco which has a population of 8 million reported 456 new cases and 52 additional deaths.

Seemingly undeterred, Sanker’s company has shifted the event to the town of Nuevo Vallarta in the neighboring state of Nayarit after Jalisco authorities forbade the event.

The New Years Eve weekend long bash, which was originally advertised on Sanker’s company’s Eventbrite listing of events, as well as its Instagram, Facebook and pages, asked that attendees not to share photos or video of the event on social media., as well as its Instagram, Facebook and pages, asked that attendees not to share photos or video of the event on social media.

Hospitals in Puerto Vallarta are at 100 percent capacity with COVID patients: “In Jalisco, the positivity rate, that is, the risk of acquiring the virus is high, reaching 65%, while statewide, general hospital total occupancy is 33%, three points higher than last week. According to the IRAG Network Information System, the hospitals that are in the red, that is, with a capacity of 78 to 100 percent are the Puerto Vallarta Regional Hospital, the Guadalajara Regional Military Hospital, and the Zapopan Military Infirmary, all at 100 percent occupancy.”

Authorities in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this week shut down a gay circuit party there which ran afoul of COVID restrictions.

The same group of revelers were involved in the massive number of ships that capsized in Puerto vallarta

The “PV Delice”, a party boat with approximately 60 gay men aboard capsized on New Year’s Eve during the late afternoon, sending all aboard into the water. Photos and videos shared to social media showed dozens of people bobbing in the water and being pulled onto surrounding boats. All passengers have been reported safe.

Commenters on social media have been less than sympathetic to the charter guests, criticizing them for partying as hospitals struggle to accommodate patients amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Circuit party promoter Jeffrey Sanker has gone ahead with a weekend of events in the Mexican LGBTQ resort destination undeterred by local COVID regulations or the health risk of packing thousands of men together on crowded dance floors.

According to his biography, Sanker’s events featured high caliber DJs/producers, including: Dave Aude, the late Peter Rauhofer, Junior Vasquez, Victor Calderone, Freemasons, Manny Lehman, Rosabel and Tony Moran.

Sanker also staged and produced fundraising events on behalf of numerous charities and community organizations, including Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing (GLEH), The Trevor Project, and Desert AIDS Project.

Sanker moved to Los Angeles in 1987.  His innovative technique of using landmark venues for trend-setting themed events was credited for breathing new life into the Los Angeles gay entertainment night scene.

In addition to hosting superstar entertainment events, which included Lady Gaga, and other celebrities over the years, Sanker is credited with launching the careers of many new up and coming performers.