Although the name already suggests it all (the double meaning isn’t lost on anyone) El Banana Splitter is an inclusive gay nightlife organization founded by five paisas.
Together, they’ve hosted thematic nightlife events every other month in different venues around the city since June 2014.
I met with one of the founders, Juan Pablo Gomez, to hear more about what the organization does, where the idea came from and what it hopes to do in the future.
- Juan Santiago Uribe: Artist. Contributes to the events with concept design.
- Nicholas Diez: Interior Designer. Helps design the elaborate spaces that make up the scene for Banana Splitter parties.
- Jorge Orozco: Fashion designer, owner of his own brand, Orozco on Vía Provenza.
- Federico Castrillon: Graphic designer, jeweler, and DJ.
- Juan Pablo Gomez: Art director and Producer. A publicist by profession, Juan Pablo learned about these types of events while living in Buenos Aires.
The Banana Splitter: An Itinerant Party
It’s an itinerant party, meaning it hardly ever takes place in the same venue. This gives them, the founders, the opportunity to innovate every time and create, from the original space, something completely different from what it was originally.
It’s called a gay party mainly from the fact that its five founders are gay. They play with the idea of the banana but define the parties as open to whoever wishes to experience something different. They feel that it’s a party that welcomes diversity and celebrates differences.
Juan Pablo began getting involved in this type of party planning and organization in Buenos Aires, where he attended the LOVE and MAMBA parties, among others. The format itself comes from these experiences.
It’s not about a party with a DJ which you attend, dance at, leave and forget. The Banana Splitter’s goal is to create an unforgettable experience every step of the way, from the invitation and entrance to the party itself, and even the bar.
The Banana Splitter is a completely visual experience. They enjoy using lots of color and tropical themes.
Keeping with their light-hearted spirit, the attendees tend to get very involved in the reenactment of the themes, dressing up and acting, all the while mocking the general uptightness of society.
Their parties have had themes that vary from “Jungle is Wild” to “The Banana Sacrifice” and their annual “Heavy X-mas.”
Their latest party took place on March 13th, which was chosen because it was a Friday and offered the perfect opportunity to throw a “Friday the 13th” movie-themed event.
The party incorporated everything from the 80s horror films, plus zombies, and, of course, their trademark bananas.
Future themes under consideration include a tropical party, a 90s party and a “Sweet 15.”
Medellin didn’t have anything like this before. It’s exaggerated, it’s unconventional. So of course, Medellín hasn’t offered a nightlife event quite like this one. In its traditional Catholic past, it wasn’t an option.
Now, other major cities in Colombia like Cartagena, Cali, and Bogotá are calling El Banana Splitter, looking to have an away-based version. However, due to logistical challenges, that hasn’t been possible just yet.
In the beginning, the team would hire about six actors to attend the parties dressed up according to the theme, acting during the entire event. Now, they’ve seen that their guests become so involved that they only ask for a few actors for motivation.
The Future of Banana Splitter
This party in the next five years looks to reach a point where it isn’t taken as a “gay party.” This experience is crazy and fun, and that is what is interesting about it.
As Juan Pablo Gomez said to me:
I already see people of all kinds of sexual orientations at the parties, because there is nothing sexual about a nightlife event. You can hit on someone anywhere, a party is much more than that. It’s an experience that everyone should be a part of and not an exclusive “gay only” occasion.
The next party is on its way to being scheduled in late June and will celebrate the one year anniversary of the organization.