Altitude X bigger and better than ever 

What: Altitude X

When: Feb. 3-11

Where: Various Whistler Venues

It’s here, it’s gay, and it’s out of this world.

With 3,000 attendees, an international DJ lineup and a planets-aligned theme, Altitude X hits town this weekend with a myriad of entertainment from Out On the Slopes Productions.

From the Avalanche kick off party at the Commodore in Vancouver Saturday night, the zingy atmosphere shifts north for the opening party with DJs Billy Carroll, Manny Lehman and more Sunday at The Westin Resort & Spa.

"We’ll have a very Wallpaper (Tyler Brule’s London-based urbana magazine) look and feel, with a very cool apres ski ice bar and little peak fireplaces," says Ken McAuliffe, on staff with Out on the Slopes. "A surprise music act will be playing every day at 4 p.m."

Brent Benaschak, who started the gay and lesbian ski week 10 years ago, says there will be "special surprises for the tenth anniversary this year."

Altitude grew from humble beginnings.

"Altitude and Whistler have really made a name for themselves, in what started out as a bunch of guys that shared an interest in snowboarding and skiing with a camaraderie atmosphere," says Laurie LaMarche, events co-producer for the past three years.

The week’s list of events includes a number of stage performances.

"Lea Delariea headlines the comedy night and charity auction. She’s a fantastic performer out of San Francisco who acted as both Eddie and Dr. Scott in a version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show," says McAuliffe.

Wednesday’s Cabaret features Kim Kuzma, Dee Daniels, and drag queens.

Thunderthrob: The Women’s Party is presented by Flygirl Productions and features DJ Tracey D.

DJ Brett Henrichsen from L.A. headlines the Tea Dance held at the Roundhouse and offers a hint of flavour from the circuit scene. Henrichsen has played the Pillage and Plunder Cruise, Jeffrey Sanker’s Beach Ball. His first single, Dreamweaver, gave him the start he needed while training at a record label.

The tea house dance tradition is an offshoot of the gay circuit scene, made popular by wealthy gay travelers.

"Circuit parties were originally a segment of the population that traveled around the world, who had the budget to do so, and meet other people," says LaMarche. "The tea dance has a longer tradition but it is also about meeting new people. Inside the gondola will be cold and dark, which will give people around 20 minutes to get to know six or eight people, from all over the world, and then that vibe carries into the Roundhouse party."

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