"The more I do this, the more I wanted to understand what gays in the city want to hear," says Colbourne. To this end, he's embarked on research junkets through Boston's more macro gay nights (like HOT MESS SUNDAYS at Underbar, GLAMOROUS THURSDAYS at Estate, and EPIC SATURDAYS at the Roxy), watched the floor carefully at his own throwdowns, and developed a dance-floor sensibility that deftly dovetails, say, Roy Ayers with Donna Summer. "You have to be able to relate to your audience."
Under this mantra, Colbourne and other go-getter DJs and promoters like him are taking up a mission that has been long neglected by our bars: that of creating and renewing queer culture rather than just recycling and rehashing it — and if Boston's gay establishments are resistant to re-assess their relationship to a new generation of gayses, curious "straight" venues are happily getting in on the action. (Let's just call it recruiting.)
In Cambridge, Zuzu (the lounge outpost of the Middle East in Central Square) has teamed with Queer Collab Boston — a collective helmed by Truth Serum's Aliza Shapiro, and DJs D'hana (resident of the long-standing Midway queer/trans bash THE NEIGHBORHOOD), Lone Wolf (formerly of WMBR's Todo Mundo), and Rizzla (of the Milky Way's KIKI night) — to launch a series of regular queer Tuesdays. On September 8, D'hana and Rizzla host NU LIFE; September 15 finds another installment of TUSH — a mix of DJs and live acts; and the last Tuesday of every month is reliably FRUITCAKE, an uber-chummy dance party thrown by DJs Caitlin and Annie.
The night formerly known as REVIVAL at the nearby Middlesex will re-debut as TRADE — another dope D'hana-and-Rizzla affair. Final Sundays at the Enormous Room find GROUP HUG hogging the whole day, as the weekend's only "afternoon tea dance for rad gays" (DJ'd — full disclosure — by yours truly and Nathanael Bluhm of local disco-pop juggernaut Mystery Roar).
Not to be outdone, the many lounges of Jamaica Plain are also gunning for the gayses. For those with a hankering for early post-punk, new wave, glam, and rare electro, DJ David Dancer hosts THIS IS WHY THEY HATE US every fourth Saturday at the Alchemist Lounge (where a mean slice of turkey meatloaf may also be had). Fourth Fridays at the Milky Way find the unstoppable lesbo-force that is DYKE NIGHT settling into the club's fancy new digs quite nicely, typically a smart blend of hip-hop and R&B grooves. At the Milky Way, the free, hyper-diverse queer throwdown formerly known as GROSS ANATOMY is now known as LA BOUM — a filthy, dirty dance party presided over by DJs Stella and Shailah, taking every first Friday.
"Boston could have a real, living, breathing club culture," asserts Colbourne as we sit on the phone trying to tally all the new parties springing up. "But you need to take small risks to find a large audience, and the gay bars haven't picked up on this yet."