The White Party

The Ace Hotel Palm Springs. The pool.

I am in Palm Springs again and at the ACE Hotel. Palm Springs is where surfers must go when we need vacation. The ocean is such a demanding mistress and sometimes, sometimes, retreat from her intransigence is necessary. She is unrelenting in the attention she requires. And sometimes, sometimes, as men, we must say, "Bitch, I'm going to Palm Springs."

Palm Springs. An oasis with neither wave nor guilt nor coercion. Proof that the ocean doesn't own us. We own her. Palm Springs. With perfect cocktails and swimming pools and desert sun and air scented with blooming bougainvillea and Bob Hope and Sonny Bono. Palm Springs. And neither wave nor guilt.

And I am with my totally gorgeous babe in her totally gorgeous white Porsche this weekend, and it is, accidentally, the White Party. The largest gay event in the nation.

The ACE has given, to my babe and me, an amazing room with private outdoor fireplace and minibar stocked with Grey Goose and 10 Cane and Cazadores. The linens are clean, cool, white, and refract that desert sun perfectly. Sensually. The walls, decked in sail canvas, feel right.

Outside our private wall, club hits pump around the swimming pool. And gay men dance and splash and wear our clothing. Yes. Gay men wear the surf. Everything from Analog to Volcom. Billabong, Oakley, Lost, Quiksilver, Reef, RVCA, Rip Curl.

And the bigots, poorly educated, internally angry, will say, "Ha! I knew it! Hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate…"

The Ace Hotel Palm Springs. The “minibar.”


The intelligent, handsome progressive will say, "Goldmine! Disposable income!"

Gay men are the best new market for our wares. They shop. Shop. Shop. Dance. Shop. Don't surf. Money is pumped into our pocket (and, really, if you are not earning an income from our glorious pastime it is your own fault) while the line-ups remain uncrowded. The rare win-win.

And my babe and I sit around the pool observing, looking brilliant ourselves (I in Rusty boardshorts cut mid-thigh, unbuttoned Comme des Garcons shirt, she in a blue DESPI bikini and unbuttoned Roxy flannelette). Mr. Gay Universe enjoys our style so much that we are invited, VIP as his guests, to the White Party itself. He was once an Olympic swimmer.

And under a sliver moon in a giant room clothed in white, two thousand gay men dance. In our clothing. Our surf clothing.

This rising tide will float all ships. And tomorrow I will head back to that rising tide and surf her waves and smile and she will cooperate because I taught her a lesson by not needing her, only wanting her.

You've got your ball you've got your chain. Tie, tie me up again… —Chas Smith

Chas Smith is a SURFING Magazine writer and is currently working on a novel. He did not make a Dave Matthews reference in this post. That was your imagination.