Sand Blast is expected to bring up to 5,000 LGBTs and allies to the North Jersey locale through July 22 for fun in the sun.
The weekend, now in its 11th year, will feature a host of parties, including several new additions, as well as games, cultural events and other excursions.
While the parties are a primary thrust of the weekend, organizer Brad Hurtado explained that Sand Blast has a higher purpose.
“The weekend has ultimately always been about promoting Asbury Park to the gay community,” he said. “We don’t just want people to come for this one weekend per year, but to see what Asbury Park is all about and keep coming back.”
The event was originally founded under the name Road Trip as a way to showcase the burgeoning LGBT destination to the community. About five years ago, organizers added a Saturday dance party on the beach known as Sand Blast, and the moniker eventually was transferred to the whole weekend.
The main event will be held from noon-7 p.m. July 21 on the beach near Convention Hall, with drinks, a dance floor and music by Brett Henrichsen.
For the first time, there will also be an official Sand Blast dance party on Saturday night, staged by DJ and producer Alyson Calagna. DEEP BLUE will be held from 10 p.m.-5 a.m. at the Berkley Oceanfront Hotel, the host hotel for the event.
The weekend will also include a new women’s party. From 11 a.m.-4 p.m. July 22, the Surfer Girl Beach Party will feature DJ Whitney Day and members of the New Jersey Women’s Flag Football Team.
“Each year we’re looking for new events to make Sand Blast complete and part of that was adding more women’s events, which we’ve been doing each year,” Hurtado said. “The big beach party Saturday is mostly male-oriented but the dance floor was staying up on Sunday empty, so we thought, let’s give that day to the ladies. So there’ll be the private bar and the sound system and the dance floor all for the women Sunday.”
In addition to the other pool parties and bar events, there will be ample opportunity for guests to explore Asbury Park.
Offerings include yoga sessions on the beach, a downtown brunch, an art crawl and, new this year, a women’s jazz brunch, beginner surf lessons and a bike ride.
The last outing will be led by members of New York City’s OutCycling, who will take guests on a two-hour tour of the Victorian homes, historic shopping areas and picturesque beaches of Asbury Park and neighboring Ocean Grove.
“We want people to really explore the area,” Hurtado said. “We don’t want them to just come and stay just at the hotel and party, but really fall in love with all that Asbury Park has to offer. It’s an easy getaway, it’s so gay-friendly and, even on a rainy day, there are so many things to do for people with all different types of interests.”
Prices for Sand Blast events vary, and packages are available. Rooms at the Berkley are going for $299 per night.
Guests just staying for the day can use the 24-hour bag check and changing rooms at the hotel for $10.
For information or to purchase tickets, visit www.sandblastweekend.com.