INTERNATIONAL HOUSE MAFIA: Rafael is from Puerto Rico, Miranda from Newburyport.
“Church on Sunday” is one of the newer house-music events in the city. It gathers at Rumor on Warrenton Street at 8 pm — very early for a house crowd, but so far so good. The very first Church, on January 14, packed the club wall to wall. Was it that Boston’s well-loved Craig Mitchell was playing? Perhaps. Yet the very next week big-name DJ Richie Santana did the spinning and also drew a large crowd. The Church services continue this Sunday with DJ Wayne Michael.
The event is sponsored by a team of three: Rick Dunn, Miranda, and Rafael (who at MySpace calls them “the Gay Mafia”). All are long-time denizens of House Nation. Dunn is well known in Boston’s gay community both as a house fan and as the publisher of Edge. He travels widely in house club circles and maintains a growing list of contacts with DJs, promoters, agents, and record labels. Many of the dancers who gather at Church are folks on Rick’s contact list, which extends to Provincetown and New York City.
Rafael grew up in Puerto Rico, then moved to Miami, whose huge house scene he immediately took to, and then came to Boston. At Church he’s the doorkeeper and chief floor man, in charge of guest lists, security, and welcoming. His contact list also draws fans to Church events.
Perhaps the largest group of potential Church goers, however, are those who know Miranda, whose MySpace site says, “Music is my religion.” Miranda grew up in Newburyport. Her story is typical of Boston’s house community: “I was a big fan of hip-hop.” Pause. “But I hated it. So when my friends told me about Friends Landing, in Haverhill, I started going there. They played house music.”
Friends Landing is now closed, but for many years it was the Merrimack Valley’s chief venue for cross-dressers and other trannies. “And I hated that, too, at first,” she continues. “But the more I heard it the better I liked it.” Miranda found her way to the Loft, where she heard Armand Van Helden spin. (It was 1995, and Van Helden was then the king of Boston house music.) Later — like so many of the people who now do house promotion in Boston — she started dancing at Avalon’s hugely popular Sunday “Gay Night,” where “I took to the scene totally. Other than the Loft I had never come into Boston clubs before, but at Avalon I became friends with the bartenders.” She also had the spunk to persist as a house fan even though “at that time Avalon on Sunday was filled with bare-to-the-waist circuit boys who asked me to my face what was I doing there.” Now, however, “everybody knows who I am, and in any case, things have changed. Everybody dances with everybody now.”