The historic Lafayette said goodbye to both LE Parties and Matinee.
LE Parties ended their five year run of signature poolside Pride events at the Lafayette Hotel in 2017. But recently there have been some allegations from LE Parties founders John Joseph and Michael Swenson that the historic Lafayette Hotel has appropriated their Pride event this year after the hotel ended their contract with them saying they "were going in a different direction."
Swenson was shocked when he saw the hotel's promotion for a 2018 Pride event they are calling the "Unicorn Disco Pride Pool Party." He told San Diego Gay and Lesbian News that their flyer is even using verbiage he created for his block of Pride events being produced in 2018. The promotions duo moved this year's celebrations to the newly renovated DoubleTree by Hilton in Mission Valley after the Lafayette let them go.
Swenson remembers having that final meeting with the general manager at the time who said they wouldn't be using them in 2018, he was told, "they want to go in a new direction." At that same meeting, he recalls leaving on good terms with the hotel.
"I was also told that they would not be promoting a pride pool party that would conflict with ours since we built it up over the years," explains Swenson adding he was told, "they wanted to go back to 'traditional style pool parties' whatever that means."
So imagine their surprise when Swenson and Joseph came upon the Lafayette Pride weekend pool event scheduled for July 15 which happens to coincide with their Heat Mega Pool Party. "They are just capitalizing on our parties," says Swenson.
However, the Lafayette says their commitment to the LGBT community is stronger than ever, and the general manager that Swenson talked to originally hasn't been with the company since January.
The new General Manager, Dieter Hissin, has taken over and he talked to SDGLN via email about the appropriation allegations and why the hotel didn't extend LE Parties' contract through 2018. "You are correct that LE Parties is not doing the event here at the Lafayette as they move their party to the DoubleTree," he said but gave no reason why.
He continued to say that there will be no promoters taking over the pool this summer. "This is really the only change that we are making," he said, "we do not have outside promoters doing events at the pool and we made a decision to do them in-house with DJ’s or live music that we hire. We have a number of events at the pool throughout the summer including a pool party on Pride weekend."
As for questions about the similarities in LE Parties' event verbiage and their flyers (see left insets), he did not respond to that query. We sent another email out reiterating that question, but as of yet not received a reply.
However, Hissin is emphatic that the Lafayette supports the gay community, giving us examples such as their involvement with a fundraising event they are partly underwriting at the San Diego LGBT Community Center. "I met with a representative of the Center.org [sic] last week to work better together and see if there are services that the Lafayette can offer. In fact, I will be at the Senior Housing Apartment community of the Center.org [sic] (on Texas Street) on Wednesday, June 27, for their resident meeting."
It might take more than that to convince the owners of LE Parties though. They point out that the mega-popular gay event Matinee wasn't invited back. "It also seems like the entire staff and management has been turned around," said Swenson.
Paul Nicholls, co-promoter of Matinee, echoed those words saying, "We actually never even spoke to them [Lafayette managment] directly about it. We heard it through a third party and all our contacts there including the GM--who was an amazing guy--were gone."
In the end, Swenson says he and his business partner enjoyed working at the Lafayette with the former staff, "They were very good to us and we appreciate it, " says Swenson. "We were just more shocked that they pulled the rug out from under us after building up something so amazing there, but we took it in stride."
He adds that LE Parties is very happy at the larger DoubleTree venue and have confirmed pool parties for the entire summer. Gauging by the success of their recent Rehab event it seems they've found their new home for Pride, "We thoroughly enjoyed it and loved the clientele and how packed it was, only looking forward to more events especially our massive pride weekend."
You can read about LE Parties Pride line-up HERE.