Iggy Fenech talks to four of Malta’s biggest boat party organisers and investigates why nothing spells summer more than a vessel sailing to the beats of a good playlist.

It is no secret that Malta is blessed with some of the best weather anywhere in Europe and knowledge of our eclectic party scene has become common, so common, that it’s slowly becoming legendary. But these two factors – although very vital for the upkeep of the island’s growing boat-party culture – are not enough to make such events a success.

Boat parties have become a warm-weather getaway from the crowded streets of our party mile, and over the last ten years this market has boomed with a large number of party boats setting sail every summer. These events are tricky, however, and one slip can ruin a reputation.

“When we started our own boat parties, we went for quality and for a name to be remembered, but we had tried all types of these events beforehand,” says Cosimo Dambra, managing director of the Lazy Pirate Party Boat. “Some were just awful, declaring to be all-inclusive but running out of food and drinks after two hours of boarding. Others were just full of anonymous people clearly brought together just to fill up the boat.”

The crowd is one of the most important elements of a boat party; and unity and a sense of belonging are essential for both individual enjoyment as well as for the success of the boat party as a whole.

“We have always tried to think outside the box in terms of creating new events for the regular patrons at the Nordic Bar and Nordic+ in Paceville,” explains Miroslav Balo, managing director of the Nordic Boat Parties. “We have a good crowd which comes to our boat parties, and that’s the main reason they have become so popular. Those who attend know they need to be ready to get a little wild and have a good time, and that makes these events a lot of fun.”

It’s important to remember that the dynamics that apply to a normal club are intrinsically different when you’re out at sea stuck with the same 100 people for a number of hours. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t and won’t meet new people and interact: much like the Nordic Boat Parties’ niche (which is like a family eager to welcome anyone with the same mind-set), naviGAYt has also found its target market that sets it apart.

It’s important to remember that the dynamics that apply to a normal club are intrinsically different when you’re out at sea stuck with the same 100 people

“Since BeatBears is made up of two DJs who are gay, we tend to focus on the gay crowd,” say Chunky and Genio (known jointly as BeatBears), the duo behind the brand. “However, we seem to be attracting quite a number of straight people too, and we’re probably down to a ratio of 70 gays to 30 heterosexuals. This seems to be working well and all we can say is that each of the four boat parties we’ve had sold out!”

One thing that the most successful boat parties have in common is that they all give their attendees something different, and which other organisers can’t provide. That might be the music, the atmosphere or the deals, but either way, it sells and it sells well.

“Creativity and giving people something that they will enjoy are essential to a successful boat party,” says Carl Schembri from The Boat That Rocked boat parties organised by the Hedon Crew.

It’s all a balance that needs to be stricken at the right point, and the talent of locating it is as much in finding the ideal ship as it is in knowing your crowd and giving them the atmosphere they will feel most at ease in.

“We’re in our third year of organising boat parties, and when it comes to music, we do a variety of things,” adds Carl. “We tend to start with 1960s and 1970s rock ‘n’ roll classics and then, later, a mixture of tunes from alternative to indie to the big beats – all this means that everyone gets a bit of what they enjoy while the well-known tunes keep everyone entertained.”

The right playlist can be so influential to the overall experience that Cosimo from the Lazy Pirate calls it a ‘secret recipe’. Others, like Navigayt’s BeatBears have actually created a whole boat party around their love for music.

“We go through the playlist over and over, adding new tracks and reclaiming old club classics,” elaborate BeatBears. “Since we have different styles, we find the middle road and make sure to have fun with the music and to deliver a good clubbing experience.

“In truth, we love parties on both dry land and on boats, but a boat party gives you that edge where in the peak of summer you’re on the open seas listening to great tunes in the cool breeze and with a cold drink… Everyone’s in high spirits and gets the chance to show the body they’ve been working on all winter.”

Indeed, boat parties – no matter who they are aimed at – are a great way of indirectly letting go. Indeed, these happenings are known for their great fun and infectious antics; so much so, that the Nordic Boat Parties create post-party videos, while one of the members of the Lazy Pirate Crew is getting married to a person who was at one of their boat parties in 2011.

As deep as it may sound, boat parties are like temporary microcosms that act as an escape route from the mundane party nights in Paceville and the rigid structure of everyday life.

They combine swimming, drinking, partying, dancing and interacting – and sometimes you might not even have mobile phone reception. So, if all your life you’ve concluded that these happenings are a prison full of sweaty bodies clashing together under the influence of alcohol and thumping music, this might be the summer to rethink.

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