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Ascension Reinvention: Asbury Park Edition August 4 - 6

Tuesday Aug 1, 2017

For decades Asbury Park, New Jersey's premier gay beach community, has played second fiddle to its seaside cousin to the north, Fire Island. While both resort towns boast pristine beaches and easy proximity to New York City, Fire Island has held bragging rights to being the Mid-Atlantic's summer gay party mecca.

But all of that could change this summer. After a nine-year run in Fire Island Pines followed by a two-year sabbatical in Mykonos as part of the XLSior International Gay Festival of parties, the famed Ascension party weekend is returning stateside this month for a three-day, eleven-party, fourteen-DJ blowout.

The dramatic transformation of Asbury Park that has included major investments in the boardwalk area, a revitalized downtown district and a 50-million-dollar award-winning hotel, have made this one time "red neck Riviera" a prime party location.

And parties are what Ascension has built a reputation on delivering. It all kicks off on Friday night with the VIP cocktail party hosted by DJ Lina, followed by the Ascension Underwear Party with world renowned DJ Eddie Martinez. Saturday's main event, the Ascension Beach Party hits the sands from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. with International spin masters DJ Dani Toro and DJ Hansel, followed by the Saturday Night Celebration with superstar DJ Paulo. On Sunday, it's time to break out the Speedos for the Ascension Pool Party with beats by Dan Slater, followed by the grand finale Closing Party.

EDGE caught up with Ascension's founder Eric Von Kursteiner, who's been hard at work getting the party ready for its new digs.

EDGE: Welcome home! For those of us who weren't able to make it to Mykonos, how did Ascension evolve in Europe? 

EV: XLSIOR invited us to bring Ascension to Mykonos, Greece. We jumped at the chance to be part of one of the most exclusive international Summer Gay Festivals in the world as it would introduce the brand to a whole new audience of gay men. It was a phenomenal two years. We had such a great time in Europe that this year we are adding the largest European Brand, the WE Party to our line up. We are excited that the WE Party will be the closing the festival this year.

EDGE: What made you decide to bring the party back to the states? 

EV: We had so many requests from our attendees that it was inevitable.  We continue to expand and are bringing Ascension to all the hottest destinations around the globe.   

EDGE: Why Asbury Park?
EV: We brought on a new partner for the weekend, Giovanni Siena, who brought a lot of fresh ideas including the idea to take the party to the beautiful beaches on the Jersey Shore. We're excited! Asbury Park is convenient to travel to from NYC, Philly, NJ, Boston, Maryland, Long Island and it's an hour drive from Newark Airport. Also, The town's transformation has been incredible. Major investments in the boardwalk area and the city over the past few years have completely transformed the downtown. 

EDGE: In age demographic and as a gay resort community, Asbury Park is younger than Fire Island Pines. How will the party adjust to its new digs and crowd?

EV: We're bringing in an incredible assortment of DJs and talent to accommodate everyone's party needs. We're throwing eleven-parties with fourteen DJs over a three-day weekend. One of the things we have learned from throwing Ascension around the world is that our revelers are all ages and all demographics. Everyone is welcome to have a great time.

EDGE: How has the reception been so far with the locals? Are they ready for a party of this magnitude?

EV: They're thrilled. Ascension will bring in thousands of visitors from all over the tri-state area as well as the world to their town. It will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the local businesses to new people. We have been especially thrilled with the reception the City of Asbury Park has given us from the Mayor's office to the Special Events Coordinator. Everyone has been amazing.

EDGE: From plush green oasis areas with reflecting pools to sponsor cabanas, Ascension was a huge physical undertaking on Fire Island. Do you plan to duplicate that level of grandeur this go around?

EV: Yes, of course. We always aim to provide the highest level of grandeur excitement and fun.

EDGE: What challenges do you foresee in Asbury Park? 

EV: As with any festival there is always the weather challenge. We are ready either way.  

EDGE: What will the venues be like in Asbury Park?

EV: We have an amazing Host Hotel, The Asbury, voted "Number One New Hotel" in the US last year. The Hotel has multiple event spaces that are really great and we will be utilizing the whole hotel that weekend. Then the main event on Saturday will be outside and we have a great set up planned.  

EDGE: In the end, the party is about philanthropy. Who are this year's Fund in the Sun grantees? 

EV: Ascension donates 100% of net proceeds to the LGBTQ community. We've granted over one million dollars to 40 non-profit organizations through the years. NJ Equality and other LGBTQ community organizations in Asbury Park will be the beneficiaries of Ascension 2017.

EDGE: Kelly Rowland and Dragonette are a few of the live acts that have played Ascension in the past. Who can we expect this year in Asbury Park?

EV: We have something very special in works.  Stay tuned! 

For information and tickets to Ascension Party Weekend, visit


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