Pride parties for days
Billy at SBNY; Victor Calderone takes the crowd on a Jungle safari; Alegria heats up Sound Factory; and Junior caps the weekend.
by Matt Kalkhoff

It’s good to be gay these days. Thanks to the tireless, often perilous efforts of the brave men and women who have fought passionately since the 1969 Stonewall Riots towards achieving acceptance and equality for our community, many of us are now comfortable and proud enough to live our lives in varying degrees of openness. Closets are for clothes.

Of course, we still have a long way to go, and there are still many people who have trouble integrating into society and dealing with their sexuality. So while those of us who are lucky enough to live happy, gay lives might question the value of Gay Pride celebrations in the year 2003, we should remember that there are still plenty of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered folks who benefit immensely from them.

Victor Calderone gets tribal
If you’re looking for a more bacchanalian way to celebrate Pride, our illustrious city offers a multitude of extreme dance parties that are sure to push you to the limits of your endurance (but, I hope, not beyond).

It’s been far too long since Victor Calderone played live in New York City. But on Saturday, June 28, the proudly married new papa (greetings to Athena and Jivan!) bursts back onto the scene to take us back to the deep, dark Jungle.

This fierce tribal dance party that he is both producing and DJing will take place in one of the concrete jungle’s most unique venues, the Hammerstein Ballroom. If you experienced Caligula or last year’s Provocateur — each boasting a 50-piece live orchestra and special performances by the likes of Cyndi Lauper — you’ve probably already bought your ticket.

If you haven’t yet been initiated into the Calderone tribe, then break out your favorite headdress, brush up on your voodoo, and prepare to embark on the wildest safari this side of the Serengeti. High priestess Kevin Aviance will oversee the evening’s rituals, including ceremonial dance numbers performed by an African dance troupe and musical accompaniment by a 20-piece percussion group.

Mitch Amtrak will guide revelers on a luminous visual journey while Kevin Campbell (who recently worked on Lenny Kravitz’s tour) cooks up some trippy video sequences to be displayed on a mammoth 20-by-40-foot screen. Tickets are $60 until June 22, $75 thereafter, and can be purchased at Conquete (255 W. 23rd Street) or Be sure to check out the Caligula video footage at (click on the Audio/Visual link).

Jungle also marks the beginning of Victor’s DJ tour that will take him around the world to cities like Miami, Los Angeles, Montreal, London, Spain and Zurich, where he’ll celebrate the release of his new compilation CD, Resonate (Statra). Advance copies will be available for purchase at the Jungle party before it hits stores on July 8.

Standing out among Resonate’s 13 tracks are its three original productions — “The Drive,” “Deep Dark Jungle” and the title track. The CD is quite a departure from Victor’s past two E=VC2 compilations in that the almighty anthem has given way to a more sophisticated underground sound that will still chill your spine with sporadic but highly effective vocals.

Admittedly, even I am sometimes apprehensive when it comes to tribal music because it’s just so easy for a DJ to get lost in excessively repetitive beats that never really go anywhere. But when it’s done properly — as Victor so aptly demonstrates on this disk and during his live performances — it can be a sublime journey that transcends even the most deep-seated musical boundaries.

Plenty of other Pride parties

So now that you know where to be on Saturday night, what about the rest of the weekend? If you’re a trooper, then I suggest you start the weekend off early with DJ Billy Carroll at SBNY on Thursday night.

If you can pull yourself off the dance floor for just a few minutes (don’t wait for Billy to slow things down, because he won’t!), stop by the front bar and say hi to my favorite bartender (and SBNY’s diligent publicity manager), Larry Bullock. He mixes a mighty cocktail, and those frozen cosmos are quite tasty, too.

You won’t be able to enjoy any alcoholic beverages there, but Danny Tenaglia will keep his mighty mixed crowd dancing at Arc on Friday night well past the time the bar would close anyway. And since Monday is an official gay holiday, you have no excuse not to check out Ric Sena’s sizzling hot Alegria party at Sound Factory on Sunday night featuring Miami’s DJ Abel.

The weekend’s last dance (promise!) is a 25-hour extravaganza called Beautiful that begins at 11 p.m. on Sunday. Billy Carroll warms up the Roxy turntables (yes, Roxy!) before Junior Vasquez takes over to spin for the better part of Monday morning, afternoon and evening. Now that’s a trooper!

Circuit General’s Warning: It may be hazardous to your health (and your wallet) to attend all of the above events. Please exercise care when making your Pride party plans. Sleep, it’s a good thing.

Crobar’s long N.Y. saga continues
When the long-awaited Crobar nightclub finally opens on West 27th Street (across from the former Twilo space), Victor Calderone will take up residency on Saturday nights to play for the gay boys who have missed him dearly.

The opening is still slated for the fall, even though an administrative snag has postponed the Community Board’s vote on the club’s cabaret license until next month. Please keep your fingers (but not necessarily your legs) crossed that there are no further delays.
Until next time: Be Smart. Be Safe. Be Yourself.

© 2003 Matt Kalkhoff

These articles appeared in NY Blade on June 20, 2003