PETER, a handsome young black man with big biceps and D-I-Y pectorals, was wearing a white tutu and high-laced black boots. While he jigged on the dance floor to a throbbing high-energy beat, two metres above him on a podium, a male go-go dancer was hard at work. The long-haired blond had started off with a black leather outfit, but was now down to a pair of skimpy black briefs. As he thrust his hand down the front and made as if to remove them, my companion - married with two children - shouted above the noise: 'My God, he's going to take it all off.' As it was, the dancer had thrown her a dummy. The skivvies stayed put. This was Utah, after all. If the Mormon-run state had recently voted to ban smoking in all public places, male genitalia were surely going to be out of the question too. It was just another party night at Winterfest '95 - otherwise referred to as Gay Ski Week. Over 1,000 gay men and a handful of gay women had descended on Park City, one of the country's most exclusive winter resorts, for a bacchanalian feast of apres-ski, with a bit of skiing thrown in too. Tonight's event was the White Party, in the chalet-style Olympia Park Hotel, whose ballroom normally played host to wedding receptions. Peter in the tutu had made more effort in his attire than most. The dress theme simply allowed most guests to turn up in their normal party 'uniform': jeans and white T-shirt pulled tight over the kind of bodies that required a lifelong season ticket to the health club. Peter, a former serviceman, said he lived in nearby Salt Lake City with his boyfriend, and drove trucks for a living. If this doesn't seem to fit the typical gay profile, Salt Lake doesn't exactly fit the heterosexual, married-with-three Osmonds image either. Peter said he chose the city because he loved it, and because he got next to no hassle because of his orientation. According to Keith Kaplan, a Gay Ski Week organiser, Salt Lake has the third highest per capita gay population in the US. Another organiser, Bion Kirk, put it succinctly: 'The perception is that Salt Lake City is very conservative, Mormon, with skinheads that lynch gays. That's not true.' Gay Ski Week used to take place in trendy Aspen, Colorado, until the state adopted a controversial law blocking local authorities from passing any statutes outlawing anti-gay discrimination. Mr Kirk, who runs a gay men's health club and gay travel agency in Los Angeles, helped move the festival to Park City in protest. The Supreme Court annulled the Colorado law as unconstitutional, but the gay skiers stayed in Utah. Park City loves them and the cash they bring, which will be at least US$1.5 million (HK$11.6 million) this year. The mayor issues an annual welcome message and the shops offer discounts. Homosexual males have a higher spending power than most other demographic groupings, and they love to use that power, says Mr Kaplan, who runs an LA marketing company. 'Park City is big for our business. They love us here, and have been absolutely wonderful. It's always had a very laid-back, laissez-faire attitude here.' Mr Kaplan was dressed down for the evening, having spent much of the day in a nun's habit. He was one of the participants in the Mardi Gras Drag Race, where revellers took to the ski slopes of nearby Wolf Mountain in fancy dress, including Hawaiian grass skirts. All in all, a trifle chilly in the sub-zero Utah winter. Although many guests do fly in for the skiing as well as the partying, the latter tends to take precedence, which means the organisers try to lay on a lot of daytime events, such as the Mardi Gras, to prise them out of bed in the morning. The week attracts gays from all over the US, everyone from 'doctors to rubber guys', says Mr Kirk. Drawing participants by word-of-mouth and through a network of gay magazines and events, it has a captive, and enthusiastic audience. Although many participants arrive with partners or in groups, it's no secret that the Ski Week is also a good place to, er, make new friends. Whatever one's agenda, it's all good fun. The event programme's liner notes commends guests to 'check out the homo happenings' and warns them to consider the problematic situation when, after three beers, 'the urge hits and you've got all those ski clothes to contend with'. The town's welcoming nature notwithstanding, the only dicey moment of the week occurred when revellers descended on a bar, and found it chockful of rednecks bellied up with beer and watching the football playoffs. The few 'faggot' remarks that came flying across the room served to remind that a totally gay-friendly haven is hard to find anywhere.