Out on the town: Janice Tjon’s Curaçao
GayCities effusive New York editor, JJ Keyes, snagged a plumb assignment: creating our guide to the earthly paradise of Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles while managing to vacation there at the same time. To celebrate the guide’s launch, JJ sat down with Janice Tjon, organizer of the Curaçao’s Get Wet Weekend, at the Gay Plasa. Over cocktails at the bar next to the beautiful blue pool at the Lodge Kura Hulanda, Janice spilled all the dirty secrets of Get Wet, a key part of the Curaçao Pride weekend, September 24-27.
JJK: Are you originally from Curaçao?
JT: This is my fourth year on the island. I was born and raised in Surinam (South America), but I studied in the Netherlands. After my graduation I got a job offer here I couldn’t refuse. Now, Curaçao is the island paradise we call home just as it is for more then 55 different nationalities and cultures.
JJK: Tell us about Get Wet. Who came up with the idea for this weekend?
JT: Curacao Gay Plasa was started by a group of friends who came back after their studies in the Netherlands and wanted to organize some cool gay parties. This hobby turned out to something more then only back yard interaction! Today the Get Wet weekend continues to grow, becoming bigger and better every year.
JJK: Tell us about this year, where is the party going to be this week?
JT: This will be the 5th annual Get Wet weekend. There will be an official welcome party at the marvelous 17th century Hotel Kura Hulanda. Like every year this “Meet & Greet” party comprises various cultural aspects of the island. On Friday we have a movie on the beach taking place at the lounge restaurant Moon. On Saturday we have the traditional NaviGAYtion party “the shipwrecked edition.” Our closing party will be the sunset lounge party on top of an old fort wall in the middle of Curaçao’s historic capital, overlooking parts of Willemstad and the Caribbean Sea.
JJK: What are a few of the events?
JT: I am hyped about the NaviGAYtion party with one of the best female DJ’s of Holland, DJ Natarcia.
JJK: Where should people stay? eat?
JT: I would definitely recommend the Hotel Kura Hulanda Hotel in the center of Willemstad. The Plaza Hotel along with the Avila Hotel are centrally located. Some of my favorite spots to grab a bite are Cabana beach restaurant, Omundo and all over Curacao you have “truki di pan.” These are little trailers where all locals and tourist can grab a bit after partying. You can have the most delicious conch and steaks all night long. For sushi I would recommend Chop Stix or Matsuri.
JJK: If someone meets someone really cute boy/girl and wants to save the walk of shame and get a little brunch with this new friend, where should they go?
JT: Get a room at one of our over 40 private beaches!
JJK: Ha. Ha. Moving right along. Curaçao is a snorkeling destination. What are some of the best places to go diving?
JT: The Mushroom forest, Porto Marie. Curacao has over 60 dive sites all around the island.
JT: I know some secluded beached but these are hard to find when you are not familiar. But some great beaches worth checking out are Porto Marie, Cas Abou, Zanzi Bar Beach, Mambo/Cabana and Kenepa.
JJK: I’m a closet shopaholic. Where should I go?
JT: Well in Punda you have a lot of shops if you a looking for a exclusive watch or jewelry. We have one of the best cosmetics and perfume shop of the Caribbean called Penha. In the Renaissance mall you have stores like Diesel, Mont Blanc and Breitling. We also have Zuikertuin mall with shop like Tommy Hilfiger.
JJK: I’m a nerd. Any museums you recommend checking out?
JJK: Suppose I’m staying in Curaçao for a few days after the Get Wet Weekend and want to go out. Are there any other places I should check out?
JT: Yes! Personally, the only dull day here on the island is Monday. On Tuesday’s O’mundo bar or Ay Caramaba is the place to be. On Wednesday’s there is live music at Cabana Beach. Thursday’s is the day with most of the happy hours. I would suggest de Heeren grand café, Asia de Cuba and for party people Cinco. On Friday I am always at the 70-80’s night at Cabana beach club. You can start the night at some happy hours at TuTu Tango or Wet and Wild. On Saturday the best happy hour is at Zanzi bar (Jan Thiel Beach), live bands and cocktails. Afterwards you can go party at Mambo Beach time. On Sunday the best place to go after tanning is Wet and Wild and Mambo Beach.
JJK: Tell us about the Madame Jeanette party.
JT: In the Netherlands and the Dutch Antilles we celebrate the Queens’ birthday every year on April 30th. Two years ago we decided to organize a big party called King and Queens at a restaurant called Central Park (now it’s called Tu Tu Tango). We decided to organize it every second Saturday of month in that same location. The party is just like the Surinamese pepper “Madame Jeanette.”
More Curaçao on GayCities