Hella Gay Oakland Queer Dance Party, or simply Hella Gay, has been a destination for some serious ass shaking in Oakland for the past six years. Originally conceived by DJ’s GSTAR and Hey Hey Hey after they threw a New Year’s Eve party so fun, they decided to make it a monthly event. Hella Gay was held for years at The Uptown Nightclub in Oakland, but after it shut its doors a couple months ago, the collective is now seeking a new permanent home. The music played is all across the board, but what’s most crucial according to the crew is that it gets people dancing.
The lineup has changed throughout the years as members rotated in and out with GSTAR as a holdfast. Hella Gay now welcomes two new members, DR. SPINZ and FELA KUTCHii. The parties happen the fourth Saturday of every month from 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Tickets are $5 at the door, 21+, Location TBA.
I got to ask the members a few questions about Hella Gay below:
SFCritic: What sets Hella Gay apart from other parties?
Balthazar: I think our party’s all about the music. It’s a queer party, but it’s a mixed party. We started it as a safe space for queer people, but all kinds of people come. We were at the Uptown for like 5 years when people would come out of the come out of the Fox Theater across the street they would run into our parties like, “Where am I?” and fall in love.
SFCritic: How do you select the music?
GSTAR: Being a DJ is not just about playing music, you got to do your research. We don’t have to be in the basement anymore, you know going through finger by finger, every record, but now we do the same thing, we’re still combing through every song, listening to every song. You get really good; 30 seconds, you’ll know in four bars if you like it; and then you got to know what’s popular and ‘do I want to sell my soul to play this one.’
DR. SPINZ: Personally, I’m not playing no motherfucking Iggy Azeala.
GSTAR: And for me, with Iggy Azeala, I will play her because she’s not the first, and she won’t be the last asshole that I play, because I play people like Chris Brown, you know, some people won’t play him. I select songs based on harm reduction. Before I would do dirtier songs, but I’m more careful now especially when it’s degrading women, you know.
Do you guys want to keep the party in Oakland?
FELA KUTCHii: There needs to be parties out here in Oakland. San Francisco has a lot of things going on. It’s important that I can do this in my home town; bring really cool music, pull a great crowd; people can just let their inhibitions run free and be in their own backyard.
As far as expanding, I have a bigger idea for Hella Gay to go internationally. To be able to take this on the road and bring it abroad, I think that’d be a really powerful and exciting to get our movement, get our love, get our energy out to a bigger audience. I just want to be able to bridge as many gaps as I can wherever I’m going. If I’m going to Utah, I want to be able to bridge that gap between Oakland and Utah. If I’m going to be in Paris, I want to bridge that gap between Oakland and Paris. There’s so much talent that’s coming out of Oakland and we’ve worked really fucking hard.
GSTAR:I would love to go around to towns where there are a lot of gay people, but there aren’t gay parties.
Balthazar: Even in New York; I only lived there for two years, but when I first moved, there was a casual, fun, good music, kind of queer, generic party, but then that party ended and then the whole time I was there, there was nothing; and you know, New York City is missing this!
The world seems to need more Hella Gay
DR. SPINZ: It’s just first and foremost hella supportive; just mad love.
FELA KUTCHii: In this time that we are in with everything that’s going on in the world, like we all know what’s going on right now in France and it’s really intense and scary. Positivity, love, light, it’s very important that communities can come together and that we are holding each other up and we are fighting against the right shit. We’re not fighting each other. Hold one another up. Let’s be there for each other and change this fucked up crazy society that we’re living in.
Photos by Morgan Parrick.