Four months had passed—since the last Alegria. Withdrawal
had been a bitch, but now, at last, Halloween weekend had arrived,
bringing with it the first ever Saturday night Alegria. SOLD OUT
said Friday’s email blast from Ric Sena—ALEGRIA HALLOWEEN 4: SOLD
OUT. Ever since Friday, the boyz had been arriving in New York. The Alegria host hotel was fully booked. All day Saturday, tm’s
flew back and forth: boyz searching for tix—but more importantly:
what to wear. On Sixth Avenue and
16th, at the original home of David Barton Gym, Ricky’s
Halloween was doing bang-up biz. The line for checkout ran the
length of the store’s center aisle. Alter egos in profusion: a
nearly endless parade of sluts, hos, pimps and hustlers.
And then the next big question: when to arrive? Should we
arrive with the masses, between the hours of midnight and two, when the line stretched down the block—or wait
until three or four, knowing that even at that late hour there’d
still be a full twelve hours of party. Unable to delay
gratification, powerless over our addiction, we opted for the
former—and arrived at one-thirty in the thick of cowboys, Indians,
gladiators, ghouls and courtiers.
The adrenaline rush was palpable in the crush of arrivals.
Everyone was feeling it: the anticipation, the long wait about to be
rewarded, the preparation for lift-off, four months of foreplay
about to climax. We headed up the first stairwell to the sounds of
Depeche Mode’s “Precious.” “Things get damaged, things get broken…”
Woe is the current state of the world—and yet here were the mass of
us coming together to make it right, if only for the night. The
Alegria family, a gathering of Alegria tribe members, the
faithful—ready to play all night and day in the House that Ric and
Abel Built at 530 West 28th
Their house, our house— We parked ourselves along the
catwalk as the costume parade commenced. We stood, cameras in hand,
at the foot of the staircase that leads down to that long entrance
hall facing what was once the Reed Room—and now was packed with the
overflow from the Main Room. The grand entrances—like guests
arriving at a Venetian masquerade ball at some Grand Canal palazzo. Everyone smiling for the camera, giving
good face, serving it up. Boyz from all over, waiting for their
Alegria—and now it was happening. Boyz speaking Portuguese, and
probably half the entire membership of the South Beach Equinox,
instructors included. And as the boyz mugged and hugged and kissed
their way along the catwalk, Abel werked in Madonna cooing, “Just
one kiss on my lips...” And there came Joe Caro in military
mufti—with bff Chris bejeweled in a splattering of Swarovski
crystals that flickered over his face. And Michael Stanley, and
then Ric Sena himself, hurrying down the catwalk, wearing a shirt
that said simply STAFF. Something right about that: an implied
camaraderie and a gesture of support for his crackerjack team of
players who put together this extravaganza we know as Alegria. The
deejays, the bartenders, the tech people, the light crew, security,
and maintenance—all working together as one well-oiled machine.
Smooth, very smooth—a testament to a promoter who cares about his
The boyz poured in, kept on pouring in. From the Main Room,
Abel slipped on “Free,” (“You’ve got to live your life…), sampled
with “I Just Can’t Get Enough,”—and then Cher’s “A Different Kind of
Love Song,” followed by “(It’s Gonna) Be Alright.” This was
palliative music, music for the inner soul: lyrics and beats
designed to highlight what was good. And so into the maelstrom, we
ventured—into the spider’s web of connections, all of us bound
together for the night.
Immense spiders and bats dominated the Main Room. Dozens
of spiders with red egg sacs and bats with glowing red eyes. A
spider perched upon the Alegria globe. And at the room’s far end
stood a Victorian house with porch: the Bates house from Psycho,
or the home of Boo Radley in To Kill A Mockingbird. All
around us, gongs sounded as a basso profundo voice warned of the
night ahead. Green lasers and white flashes—and nefarious
bartenders in blood-spattered and starched white tuxedo bibs.
Suddenly, there was the feeling that everyone was prey. An African
beast roared as he passed behind us; a ringmaster cracked his whip.
The house was packed. The floor was a pulsing sea of
glistening skin. The grand staircase was nearly impassable—boyz
dancing on every step. Upstairs, we ran into more friends, nearly
all of who wore a look of barely-contained jubilation. There was
Hilton, and Kevin, Adam and Glenn, and David Morgan, Michael and
Olivier, and Karen and Michelle. Everywhere in the house, Alegria
friends were reconnecting. The joy of touch, and of seeing again
those with whom you’d had such a good time—at the last Alegria.
And over in the booth, the masterful Abel presided over it
all with his delicious chugging beat. He mixed in pieces of “My
Imagination” with “Revolution,” both of them seminal Alegria
anthems—because not unlike the way RENT-heads
can see that Broadway musical over and over, or how a fan catches
every Madonna tour, to hear Abel at Alegria is to hear him anew,
playing out a musical journey which is the same as the last Alegria
only insofar as there’s always an end. The man is inspired by his
audience—by the legions of boyz who know how to hook onto his beats
with every pelvic thrust.
And then there was a production number—as if the beautiful
crowd wasn’t diversion enough. In front of Boo Radley’s house, four
or six progeny of Frankenstein and Batboy danced menacingly along
the porch overlooking the floor. With their lacquered pompadours
and their batwings cutting through the air as they danced to “Beatzz,”
they could have been guests for the bash at the home of Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
And later, there was Amuka, singing her string of hits.
Meanwhile, the house got darker. Abel brought in Kult of
Krameria’s “100%”. The lights stayed indigo—with flashes of red—and
above us, there was the almost-screech of thundering bass. “Make It
Last” melted into “I Need Somebody,” and “Playing with My Mind,” and
later, the soulful and so deliciously chunky, “Looking For Men.” No
one left the floor.
Then it was time for the six o’clock
jump. In the Pink Elephant Room, Eddie Elias controlled a smaller
club of his own with Taylor Dayne’s “I’m Not Featuring You.” We met
a Rumanian from Transylvania. And there was a Transformer in front
of us, with an entire bag of special effects: a phosphorescent
skull, light sabers, and strings of colored lights.
On through the morning in the Main Room, Abel played his
contagious propulsive beat, the energy never flagging, and the floor
remaining a mass of happy, sweat-slick boyz. Lest anyone forget,
Abel made his mark in South Beach—and
the man knows endurance. There’s an apocryphal story about Abel
deejaying a cruise—with Joe Caro amongst the revelers—and one late
morning, out on the seas, long after all the other party boyz have
gone home to play in their staterooms, Joe Caro remains the lone
partier—and Abel keeps plating song after song, unwilling to call it
quits, not until Joe Caro admits defeat and leaves the floor first.
Hats off to Abel—the man who keeps on keeping on, making
his boyz hungry for the next Alegria—and while we’re at it, hats off
to Ric Sena, for making Alegria the benchmark against which all
other parties will long be measured.
In years to
come, those YouTube and MySpace clips from past Alegria events will
be scrutinized with as much fascination as is currently reserved for
incunabula—but nothing will ever rival experiencing an Alegria party
firsthand. The next Alegria happens in New York on Sunday the 30th
of December, 2007. Savor the joy now.