By Gil Neary
WHEN YOU THINK of Fire Island Pines what is the first thing you think about? Boys, beaches, creativity, music, divas, dancing, DJs, friendship, food, fantasy, parties, parties, and parties as well as revelry, charity and a supportive LBGTQ community? If all of that rings a bell with you get ready for Pinesfest!
The brainchild of Greg Dyer, Pines- fest is a weekend long event that is aiming to appeal to the entire population of Fire Island Pines and its visitors on Labor Day Weekend. The three-day event will start on Saturday and run through Monday from noon to 10 p.m. Staged on an ocean front beach club, a giant beach chair will be the center- piece to set the tone for the multicultural event that will include sponsor and VIP tents, a dance floor, and areas to chill and enjoy the entertainment.
Of course there is a charity aspect to the event, benefiting the Hetrick-Martin Institute, as well as the FIP Seashore Defense Fund – both great causes.
The concept is to merge a beach club environment with a music and culture festival, while appealing to the widest possible audience. Greg has been quoted as saying he wants everyone to come out of their house and go to the beach – not an easy task if you have been to some of the trophy properties here in the Pines.
Ticket sales have been going on in the Pines Harbor for weeks now. Besides selling party passes and VIP cabanas, they also feature promotional material for the event with the most popular being baseball caps emblazoned with “MAKE THE PINES GREAT AGAIN,” a most humorous riff of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign slogan.
However, some Pines residents were not convinced their community wasn’t already as great as it could be. When Dyer announced the concept at the Fall FIPPOA meeting, it was originally slated for the Fourth of July Weekend. He got some push back from the membership about the tim- ing of the event on the busiest week- end of the summer, as well as the idea of yet another mega event in front of multi-million dollar ocean front homes that cherish their views and quiet enjoyment of their ocean front decks.
The question was raised if a town that hosts Dancers Responding to AIDS Fire Island Dance Festival, welcomes the invaders from the Grove, sponsors the Pines Party, and countless benefits for LBGTQ organizations from SAGE to the Ali Forney Center – plus has two bustling dance clubs and a very active tea dance culture – why is it needed to offer another entertainment venue?
Andrew Kurtzman, former owner of The Pavilion, Blue Whale and Botel, suggested that such an event might be more effective later in the summer, to boost shoulder-season, as a way of maximizing the benefit to the community at large, and certainly the business owners.
Pinesfest took the criticism in stride, assured the homeowners they wanted their support and participation, and decided to move the event to Labor Day Weekend, promising an inclusive and alluring event.
So here is some of what we can expect:
• Day One: Saturday, Sept. 3, is a day of community that will pick up the charge of the former Mandatory Drag Party, previously the most popular house party on Labor Day Weekend. That great annual event played its swan song in 2015, but not before getting in the Guin- ness Book of World Records for the most people dressed as Madonna in 2014. Along with the drag event there will a long list of musical performances including our own Vito Fun. The beach club will be open with interactive artistic presentations as well.
• Day Two: Sunday, Sept. 4,is aimed at the classic Pines Party boys, with a headline performance by Betty Who. Betty will have the place rockin’ along with a long list of the hottest club DJs! There will also be a Mr. Fire Island Contest, so hit the gym and work on your tan line and mission statement if you are looking to grab the title.
• Day Three: Monday, Sept. 5, will focus on the theme of disco revolution, and appropriately so with the Pines’ historic place in the forefront of the disco dance phenomenon. Local icons Robbie Leslie of Tea Dance, The Pavilion and The Saint all will be spinning along with Occupy the Disco, Disco Revolution, Jason Kendig, and Midnight Magic, who will all perform and take us on a musical journey largely started in the Pines – so get ready to dance!
If you don’t have the stamina you did in the 80s don’t worry, the chill spaces and live entertainment will give you ample opportunity to relax and enjoy the ride.
As someone who never doubted the greatness of the Pines, and remembers the first Mandatory Drag Party as a small group of friends hosting a campy party on an ocean front pool deck, as well as birthing the Pines Party, the first DRA event on Frank’s pool deck, the purchase of the first SAGE cart, and now wondering what to wear to Cher for Hillary, I am thinking the baseball cap slogan is not so far off after all… lets make the Pines EVEN GREATER again!
See you at Pinesfest!
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