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NaviGAYtion, the world’s biggest Gay Party

by Vincent van der Kraan in Events & Agenda , 12 August 2004

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar
length: 6 minuten

Saturday August 14, from 14.00 hrs the famous yearly NaviGAYtion party will take place at the Willemsdok in Antwerp. Ten big luxurious party boats will sail in and out for the Party People, making a water dance through the canals and ports of Antwerp. Each boat will moor again after one hour and fifteen minutes. It’s going to be world’s biggest boat ballet. Some boats can make a complete turn on the spot and the captains will adjust their sailing proficiency for the joyous day.

Last year the party had twelve thousand visitors, thus making NaviGAYtion the world’s biggest gay party.
We talked about his plans with Ludo Smits, organizer of NaviGAYtion and owner of the best known discotheque of Antwerp, Red & Blue.

Let’s go through it step by step and see what a visitor needs to know about how to get there, what he will encounter over there and what kind of things a visitor can expect.

First of all: How do you get there?

"If you come by train: Terminus Antwerp Central Station. In front of the station we will have young sailors stand by to welcome the party people and guide them towards the shuttle busses in front of the door. These will take you non-stop to the party area. The busses will come and go, until the last train.

If you come by car: Coming from Breda you have to be aware that the usual exit for Red & Blue, ‘Antwerpen Centrum’, is closed. For the next five months the ring around Antwerp is only for transit along Antwerp. So to get to the party you have to follow exit ‘Ekeren’ and from there you will have to follow the signs: ‘Antwerpen via Singel!’ This road will lead you immediately towards our NaviGAYtion area.

If you come by boat: I would really appreciate it when boat owners from Holland would sail their boat to Antwerp. I consulted the harbor master and he would love to welcome you and will point out a spot in the spacious inner harbor of Antwerp, where you can moor and stay overnight. The inner harbor is big enough to welcome and moor a large fleet from Holland. The more boats there are to participate in the boats water dance, the more the fun. Spin around on the music, sail to the front and to the back and make it a gay spectacle."

Admission and Tickets?

People, who haven’t bought a ticket in advance, can still get a day ticket for 25 Euros at the entrance, which allows entrance to all facilities such as the boats, fair attractions, dancing areas etc. Only food and drinks are for your own costs, the rest is for free.
For 35 Euros you can buy a combination ticket for day & night. This will give you access to the night parties in Red & Blue, Hangar 26 and Diamond Princess.

However, it is less expensive to book in advance via internet. At you can buy a day ticket for 22 Euros or for 32 Euro a day&night combination ticket by using Visa or MasterCard. You can immediately print out your entrance ticket. On your print will be a unique barcode which can only be used one time only for the amount of persons on it. You can also buy tickets at the pre-sale addresses, a day ticket for 20 Euros and a combination ticket for 30 Euros."

All right, you’ve got a ticket and you’re entering the party area?

"Last year the party area was fantastic although it wasn’t paved. In the heat it was causing a lot of dust and in case of rain it will lead to a slough. That’s why we have a completely paved party area now, located at Willemsdok near the London bridge of Antwerp, and also near Discotheque Red & Blue. The area has several parts with a big roof already, but extra tents will be placed so that a shower won’t be able to waste the joy of the day.

The area will be open from two o'clock in the afternoon until midnight.

At the area we have different attractions like bungee jumping, trampolines, street animators, stilt-walkers, drag queens, etc.

Everywhere can be danced, there are two big stages and there are more than enough food and drinks for sale. For our lesbian sisters we've organized a Café de Love on the spot.

I consider the sanitary facilities to be the mirror for the quality of the whole party, that’s why we rented really royal toilets: real chic toilets which are also used with big Royal banquets, with golden taps and a lot of shining stuff.

For food we don’t only serve greasy bites, because we realize that a lot of gays prefer to eat quality food, and we've kept this in mind. However, the traditional Belgium fries can’t be missed at a Belgium party."

Then we have the boats which will moor all the time?

"Among the quay of the party area there are boats ready. You’re allowed to board on every boat that moors, as long as the maximum number of passengers hasn’t been reached yet. Before shipping the captain has to transmit the number of passengers to the harbor master and that number can’t be one more than the maximum. The harbor rules are quit strict and we hope everybody does respect these rules. So, if your boyfriend is still allowed on a boat and you’re not, than do ‘for the time being’ something nice, while you’re having complete faith that he also will.

By the way, just a little rumor I’ve heard from the harbor master: One of our biggest sponsors is Red Bull. The owner has secretly made a plan: he owns a huge private yacht and is planning to fill this with loads of sexy looking straight women and he plans to sail between the gay ships. That might cause hilarity and laughs on both sides. The most famous DJs from the most famous gay clubs from all over the world will be spinning the tables on the boats. They’re from London, Paris, the Netherlands, Israel and Germany. In total we will be having twenty-two DJs.

The boats will be shipping in and out, every fifteen minutes another boat will moor and as long it is not filled you may board.

Every boat is escorted by a boat of the water police in case there is a need of assistance during calamities.

There is also a helicopter stand-by and there is a tent of the Red Cross. Safety and care are our utmost priority.

Every boat has been provided with the necessary sound installations and this will sound as a big spectacle coming from ten boats over the water. On every boat there are drinks and toilets.

We will end the party with a performance of the French Les Farfadais. Six circus artists as in Cirques du Soleil will be lifted up by cranes and will give a fantastic finale."

What are you doing after the boat party?

"We have organized three big parties afterwards. A Man Only Party in the Red & Blue, our home port, a mixed party in Hangar 26, just next to the party area where we will realize the Glam as You concept from Paris, and there will be one in the Diamond Princess where the lesbian Café de Love will be continuing. We will go on until seven in the morning. I’m always telling I’m very strict and unplug the sound system on time, but it always turns out to be at nine in the morning. Well, as long as everybody has had a great night and shares the feeling to have witnessed the sensation of the year, I'm satisfied."


Man Only Party
Red & Blue
Lange Schipperskapelstraat 11/13

Glam as You
Hangar 26
Rijnkaai 96

Café de Love
Diamond Princess
Sint Laureiskaai 2


In our youngest issue, Gay News 344, April/ May/ June/ July 2020



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