For 12 years, the annual Fire Island Black Out beach party—FIBO for short—has been turning a normal summer weekend into a can’t-miss event for queer people of color looking for fun in the sun. After taking 2014 off to recalibrate and reinvent, the event has moved from Cherry Grove to Atlantic City, a more accessible location that the organizers hope will attract a larger number of attendees. FIBO Atlantic City is here, queer, and ready to party!
FIBO’s goal has always been to create a space where queer people of color and their allies could be open about their sexual orientation and gender identification “without fear of retribution or being outed,” explains Chris Alston, the organization’s vice president. With that in mind, there were a few reasons why the team behind the event decided that a move was necessary, the biggest being the location. According to Kevin Robinson, who manages FIBO’s social media marketing and community outreach, holding the event on Fire Island tied it to New York in a way that came to feel too limited in scope. The new Atlantic City location will make the beach bash more accessible from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. as well as the Empire State.
Fire Island also limited FIBO’s growth. At its peak, the event drew crowds upwards of 2,000 to the gay mecca off Long Island, whether they were lounging in the sand during the day or dancing by the sea at night. In the last few years it became clear that Cherry Grove simply couldn’t accomodate the huge numbers coming in to attend every summer.
Daniel Nardicio, who throws the Ice Palace’s popular Friday night underwear party and operates Big Dick’s Halfway Inn in the heart of Cherry Grove, saw FIBO outgrow its former home. “Cherry Grove is 200 houses and doesn’t have the infrastructure for 2,000 people to show up,” he explains.
Whatever the reasons for its move, the seaside party weekend now has room to grow in Atlantic City, offers more space, more venues, more entertainment options—more is the key word here. This summer, FIBO will take advantage of all this with its most exciting lineup ever, including three days of dance events: Friday’s Wet Dream Pajama Party with DJ Calvin Smith, Saturday’s Tidal Wave party with DJ Danny Nunez, and the closing Atrium indoor pool party on Sunday. Attendees will also be able to take in everything Atlantic City has to offer—gambling, live entertainment, and more.
Diversity is obviously one of the things that sets FIBO apart from other gay summer beach events, and not just in terms of race and ethnicity. The party weekend is incredibly mixed in terms of gender, providing events for a wider range of LGBT folks. Saturday’s Pleasure Her party with DJs MK and Poison Ivy is for ladies only, and queer women are welcome and present at every party throughout the weekend.
While Atlantic City may be one of the nation’s top gambling destinations, the move there feels like a safe bet for the FIBO team. After all, their new home has in recent years committed to being a welcoming LGBT travel destination. “The mayor of Atlantic City is an openly gay man,” adds Alston, “and his motto is, ‘Atlantic City: where we don’t just love diversity, we embrace it’. A gay-friendly city run by a gay mayor is sure to be a recipe for a great, safe event.”