Hella Gay was already a pretty happening party when it moved to Oakland's Uptown Nightclub in August. Launched at the Ghost Town Gallery and transplanted briefly to the Continental Club, the monthly event generated a following primarily through word of mouth. Its main promoters were rookies in the nightlife scene. Hae Yong Min is a Korean-born artist who dreamed up "Hella Gay" as a fancy birthday party for her friend Gigi Alicea (aka DJ G Star). G Star, who has since cemented her reputation on the wheels of steel, was a novice at the party's inception. She learned her craft under the auspices of Mellanique Robicheaux (aka DJ Black), who came to Hella Gay first as a celebrity guest and later as a co-conspirator. She's the only veteran. Otherwise, it's a motley crew of restaurant workers, dance-music lovers, and LGBT scenesters — mostly homegrown, with little to no experience in marketing or promotions.
Improbably, they turned their idea into the city's most successful monthly dance party. In August, 400 people showed up at Hella Gay. In January, they packed the Uptown by 11:30 p.m. and had a line down the block for the rest of the night. In all, 700 people showed. Min was perplexed. "For some reason the stars all lined up," she said.
How that happened is anyone's guess. Some chalk it up to the vacuum of women-friendly LGBT dance events in Oakland (Min surmises that the female-to-male ratio at Hella Gay is better than two-to-one). Some say it's a concatenation of auspicious circumstances: a group of organizers who got along, seemed personable, and had a lot of Facebook friends, connections to local DJs, and the perfect venue. Some credit supply and demand, since Oakland appears to have a huge LGBT population and very little gay infrastructure. Some say it's the name — humorous, campy, self-consciously ironic, but honest about its intentions. "There's no pretense about it," said Min. "We're flyering in all different places — not just gay places — and anyone who's not intimidated should go."
At this point, everyone wants a piece of Hella Gay. Min says that friends have buttonholed her for months with new ideas, the most viable of which was a "Hella Gay Live" edition. Finally, she and the crew capitulated. They'll hold the first Hella Gay Live this Friday, March 5, at the New Parish (579 18th St., Oakland). It will feature JD Samson, a multimedia artist and DJ from the electro-punk band Le Tigre. Supporting acts include J Boogie's Dubtronic Science and nerdcore rapper Juiceboxxx. And you don't have to be gay to get down. 9 p.m., $15. HellaGayOakland.com
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