As Profiled for the Cherry Six Event Program
by Matt Kalkhoff

Voted the Best Circuit DJ of 2000 by the readers of, Roland Belmares storms the East Coast this spring headlining the Cherry Six Main Event at the Old Post Office Pavilion on Saturday night.

Roland’s motto certainly helps explain his recent rise to fame on the party circuit: “My main objective throughout the night is to always try to keep it fun,” he says. “I don’t ever want to get too hardcore or too cheesy, though. Seeing everybody having a good time – just that whole camaraderie, especially in the peak hour of the night when everybody is thinking the same thing, and then that one song comes on and everybody just screams – that’s the biggest thrill for me.”

The DJ bug bit Roland just after he came out in his hometown of Austin, Texas in 1995. After he discovered gay nightlife, he says he “fell in love with dance music all over again. It was interesting to see how we interact with music, how big a part of our lives it is. I was in awe of how the DJ could just take the crowd on a journey like that. Then to go to a circuit party and see it at the next level – I just became captivated by it all, and I just had it in my blood.”

Roland immediately started buying many of the records that he would hear in the clubs, sometimes spending nearly his whole paycheck on them. He also became a bit of a DJ groupie, hanging out near the DJ booth and asking about the records he liked. After making tapes at home for himself and then his friends, people began encouraging him to start DJing at local bars.

Stellar performances eventually caught the attention of circuit promoters, and next thing Roland knew, he was traveling around the country spinning for thousands of revelers at some of the circuit’s most prominent events. He also moved to Los Angeles this past summer to live with his boyfriend, Ken. When he’s not traveling, Roland works part-time at Perfect Beat Records so he can “keep up with the music” and interact with his peers without all the distractions of a nightclub. Roland finds his hectic travel schedule – often involving two different cities in a single weekend – to be exhausting, but he’s not complaining. “Once I get going and the crowd starts to react,” he says, “it’s like it doesn’t even matter anymore because I’m having so much fun. Of course, when I get home on Monday, it’s like, I just want to stay home one weekend.”

It doesn’t look like things are going to slow down anytime soon, but Roland finds comfort in the many wonderful friends he has made along his travels. When he finally met his idol, Manny Lehman (who casually invited him to hang out with him in the DJ booth one night a few years ago), something special happened. “He’s the one I credit with the turning point in my career,” Roland proudly reports. “It was White Party ’98, the Closing Party [Palm Springs] – it was the most fun I have ever had. I had a lot of the same songs he played, but I never thought of formatting them like he did, and playing them at certain times throughout the night the way he did. That whole experience changed the way I think about music and formatting my night.” Roland also credits Neil Lewis and Victor Calderone as major influences.

The 29-year-old rising DJ also demonstrates a notable philanthropic streak that beautifully compliments his musical talents. “I like the fact that what I’m doing can help give back to the community,” he says of performing at community-building fundraising events like Cherry. “It’s not always about playing the gigs that pay the most for me. I like being able to give back to the community, and I just feel like this is a small part that I can give back.”

If Roland’s performance on Saturday night leaves you wanting more, you can take him home with you (well, his music anyway) on several continuous mix CDs. Dance 1 and Centaur Records, both Cherry sponsors, showcase Roland’s musical style on Dance 1, Volume 1 and Global Groove, Thrill, respectively. Roland also recently singed a five-CD contract with 4Play Records that kicks off with him mixing the seventh installment in the popular Circuit Sessions series.

Roland warms up for Cherry at Boston Hope’s Tea Dance the prior weekend, and will be headlining the Reunion 4 main event during San Francisco’s Gay Pride, as well as the Memorial and Labor Day events in Austin. You may visit Roland on the Web at

© 2001 Matt Kalkhoff
This profile was featured in the Cherry Six Event Program Washington, DC | April 2001