DJ Alberto: Hombre in the House
You wouldn’t normally expect a man who’s getting the kind of buzz and attention DJ Alberto is enjoying to be a sweet, smiling teddy-bear. Not that he’s a bear in that sense, but as the man behind the Macho nights at Katacombes, Alberto Pérez is unexpectedly boyish and bubbly. He’s also easy on the eyes, and the ears!
- Halloween Love Dungeon w/ Dom “Bearded Boy” Fournier + Tom McGraw
- Weekend wanderings: Mado’s gala, Apollon, GayBash!
- Beats to beat those winter blues!
Before Alberto Pérez immigrated to Canada eleven years ago, he had barely heard any house music at all. Accepting the harsh 3-year exile imposed on Cubans who defect to other countries, Pérez left his boyfriend in Cuba and chose Ottawa originally over Montréal, where he studied and worked in software engineering. “I fell in love with Canada! I came in the middle of the winter. I loved the snow and the multiculturalism. There’s a lot more acceptance here,” he says, sipping on a fruit smoothie in a quaint vegetarian café. But it wasn’t just cultural openness to club music and job opportunities that Cuba lacked: the island nation is a hold-out not only for communism, but also for discrimination against LGBTs.
“In Cuba being gay wasn’t easy. Now there are legal gay bars in clubs in Cuba, but only 5 years ago, the government would take a truck and round gay people up from parks and bars, just for being at a gay party,” Pérez recounts. Canada was a safe haven from the numerous “public decency” arrests that plagued Cuba’s gay community in the 1990′s and early 2000s. But there was something about Canada that still felt like home, as well. “There are more social benefits than in the American system. I don’t mind paying more taxes when it’s for social progress,” the dual citizen says proudly.
In 2009, Pérez made the leap to Montréal, where he’s become a hit for spinning at Parking, Apollon, Circus Afterhours and Katacombes, which is now his home base.
Macho (macho?) Man
Alberto had already earned a lot of male and female friends alike from spinning at the Hyatt’s Hola Ola pool parties, but the leather aficionado had an itch to host a boys’ party that would have a gayer, hornier vibe. “When a bunch of people approached me to ask that I host a party just for guys, I made a Facebook group one weekend. By Monday morning, 300 people had joined the group and I had DJs asking me if they could play!” he says with his signature broad smile. “The first MACHO night happened in the winter at a space called Mecca, but when Pascal Lefèbvre from Apollon approached me and asked me to spin, it all came together,” he says, describing the origins of the now ‘de rigueur’ monthly for men who like men, who like men…
“I like wearing leather, I’ve done Black Knights and PIG, and by extension a lot of guys think MACHO is a leather night,” he says, clarifying that Macho has no official dress code, unlike other Katacombes events where he’s a favourite at the decks as well. And while the cuddly Cubano likes to have his manly nights, he’s certainly not discriminating when it comes to his musical taste (see sidebar) and friends. “When my friends come to town from New York, we like to say that we’ll go mujering down Ste Catherine’s,” he jokes, adding a welcome element of camp humour to a scene that too often takes its “masc for masc” too seriously.
For the Platinum party at Fierté Montréal Aug 18, Alberto’s crowd will be adorned in “Rock Glam with a Touch of Grrrrrr!” as suggested in the “Hollywood-Glam” concept for the first third of the all-night event designed by Jason Noel. Although he’ll be playing at Toronto’s Fly Nightclub just the night before, the Fierté gig at Marché Bonsecours is one of the biggest events he has DJ’d in his career. The DJ-du-moment’s exciting upcoming projects include a remix of the track “Caliente” by French dance music producer Bruno Kauffmann (Beatport/Kult Records). Through the magic of social networking, Kauffmann contacted Alberto even though the two had never met or played together, because he liked what he heard. Seems to be a common theme for DJ Alberto’s growing number of fans.
The September 22nd MACHO event will exceptionally be a fundraiser for AIDS charity the Farha Foundation, leading up to their Ça Marche charity walk (Sept 30).
Fierté Montréal: Party Platinum
Sat. Aug. 18, 10pm-8am, $65
Marché Bonsecours, 333 rue de la Commune Est
Banner photo: Alberto Pérez photographed by César Ochoa for RG