The entrance was totally unassuming at first. Arrived in a taxi to the hotel, I meandered my way through the massive lobby, up an escalator, around a corner. At first, there were few signs that nearly 20,000 gay men were here in the hotel, but as I got closer to the party entrance, that’s when I spotted them: guys in gold shorts (much too short even for this sweaty Thai weather), bulging biceps, feathers everywhere, a drag queen in platform shoes.
We followed this assortment of characters around another corner and that’s when we saw the giant sign in purple and gold: gCircuit. We were here!
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The gCircuit party bills itself as Asia’s biggest gay event—and from even a short few minutes in the main dance hall, it was obvious this was no exaggeration. The event takes place every Spring, during the same period as the annual Songkran festival. Songkran is a Thai holiday celebrating the Buddhist new year, but one that has turned into a mixture of religious ceremonies and events as much as wild street parties with water fights and three full days of never being fully dry.
This story was originally published on my series of LGBTQ travel stories on the Expedia.de blog. Read the series (in German only) here.
gCircuit capitalizes on that festival spirit of Bangkok during Songkran and has created a three-day gay circuit party full of hotel pool parties, all-night dancing with world class techno DJs, drag shows, and mixers. The event attracts thousands of travelers from nearby Asian countries as well as further afield gay visitors from North America and Europe.
It’s a lot like circuit parties you’ll find in other mega-gay cities like Barcelona, Tel Aviv, or Miami. Drugs in the toilet stalls, topless men to make you feel inferior, free condoms and lube, and even a small marketplace to meet with LGBTQ advocacy groups and marketers promoting other gay events, trips, and—of course—sexy underwear.
The main events during gCircuit are naturally at night. Friday and Saturday evenings are the biggest events featuring top-billing DJs from around the world. During my visit, the party looked and felt a lot like a massive warehouse party—throngs of men without shirts, most of them well-built, hardly any women in sight.
A catwalk and stage protruded out through the middle of the dance floor where the party hosts, drag queens and DJs, could walk up and down. Strippers and go-go-dancers (though they didn’t strip down past their briefs) appeared throughout the night and even while the dance floor was continuously packed (and very sweaty), there were quieter areas for more intimate conversations and making new friends. A small chillout area with couches and lounges was the perfect place for a quick rest during toilet breaks. And the two massive VIP areas had far shorter queues for drinks and premium viewing of the performers. And that’s all just one of the many parties taking place during the weekend.
I stayed for a night, but most other gCircuit fans plan the whole weekend around the events. Pool parties take place at some of Bangkok’s most beautiful hotels. Rooftop pool parties with live music, speedos everywhere, and free-flowing cocktails—it’s all just so very tempting to want to do it all! A hard night of partying at the main events, followed by chill-out sessions by the pool with more muted music (but equally entertaining)—that’s what gCircuit is all about. The pace of events makes it easy for everyone to enjoy, and when I visited in 2017, there was even an event specifically for gay bears!
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Thousands of people, all men, most of them way sexier than myself, make their way to gCircuit each year. Bangkok has always had a bit of that free-flowing, open-minded attitude to fun which makes the city so special for travelers, but during gCircuit, it’s just on a whole other level! For gay men in Asia, it’s pretty much the place to be.
And after the gCircuit weekend ends? Easy. Jump on a plane and head to somewhere a bit more calm and relaxing—one of Thailand’s pristine islands. Phuket Pride sometimes even takes place around the same time (in early May) so it might be possible to make a whole gay Thailand adventure out of a single 10-day trip! Or a visit to the closest island to Bangkok: Koh Chang—a beautiful and far-less touristic Thai island than the others.
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gCircuit 2018 takes place in Bangkok from April 13-15. The official party website recommends additional Bangkok activities and places to stay, but I’d recommend looking for a hotel near Bangkok’s gay neighborhood in Silom—that way you can taste the best of the gCircuit parties plus a bit of local Bangkok gay culture at Silom’s gay pubs and clubs. Also worth noting: admission prices for gCircuit are expensive. Tickets can be bought in advance, though it does also seem that they always have tickets available at the door for last-minute purchases, too.
For the best experience at gCircuit, check out my list of recommended gay and gay-friendly hotels in Bangkok.