Creating an immersive, cosmic music experience from scratch may have seemed like a moonshot for some, but it was all in a day’s work for the music manager turned multi-hyphenate and DJ Ty Sunderland. After all, the pair had already developed reputations as the dual masterminds behind some of the city’s most beloved queer celebrations—from Devil’s Playground and Ty Tea to the annual Gayflower boat series that every chronically online LGBTQ+ person can thank for introducing the concept of the “demon twink” into their vocabulary.
Meanwhile, event producer Jake Resnicow had made a similar name for himself in the nightlife space by conjuring up his popular series of Dreamland parties everywhere from New York to Miami Beach, so when the opportunity presented itself, it was an obvious choice for the trio to join forces rather than be pitted against each other as competitors.
Now just one year after Ehrlich, Sunderland and Resnicow launched their creative rocket ride, Planet Pride has exploded into one of the can’t miss events of New York City Pride, with nearly 10,000 attendees packing into Brooklyn’s Avant Gardner on June 24 for 12 hours of non-stop revelry, music and community.
This year’s Planet Pride featured three separate spaces beneath a shimmering liquid sky of lasers: the outdoor Brooklyn Mirage was a dedicated dancefloor of pop and electronic beats, a space Ehrlich likens to Top 40-meets-EDM or “the spectrum that you would hear on an electronic radio station.” Over the course of the day, the main stage also happened to be where stars like Adam Lambert and Icona Pop emerged as surprise performers for the enthralled crowd. Jess Glynne joined Sunderland for a special performance before a late-night appearance by legendary nightlife fixture Amanda Lepore.
Meanwhile, the Great Hall was transformed into a giant circuit party featuring sets by the likes of Alex Acosta and Anne Louise, as well as a 5-D immersive activation powered by Barry’s. And King’s Hall offered something altogether darker and more experimental, with He/She/They programming a lineup which included Jodie Harsh, RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Aquaria and more.
“It really gave you this festival experience where you could go from room to room and feel different things,” Ehrlich explains of the overarching vision for Planet Pride. “It’s kind of like being at Coachella. If you’re not vibing with the Sahar tent, you can head over to the main stage.”
Thankfully, photographer Devin Kasparian was on hand to capture every moment of the night, snapping behind-the scenes portraits of Sunderland, Lepore and Harsh in the exclusive artists’ village before wandering out to the smoking section at its periphery to capture Aquaria in all her lacy, angelic splendor. The visionary behind Kim Petras’ Slut Pop cover art also happened to catch Gia Woods taking in the festivities from the VIP section; other famous faces like Bowen Yang were too busy partying on the crush of dancefloor for a candid moment in front of Kasparian’s lens.
While Ehrlich rightly asserts that there’s much more to Pride every year than a mass-scale, festival-style event, he also points out that the goal of Planet Pride is simply to bring LGBTQ+ music lovers together for a sense of community that remains integral to our ability to thrive in the world. “I think queer people in general need to consistently feel loved and like they’re part of a family,” he says. “And spaces like this allow everyone to come together and experience it. I walked through the crowd a few times and…you just see every type of person. It really is just kind of a beautiful moment.”