Mind the ManShaft: DJ Diablo Rojo builds a party with ‘true grit’

Atlanta’s nightlife scene has no shortage of national and international DJs playing at signature events in the city’s clubs, but local beat master DJ Diablo Rojo wants to make his mark and pave the way for others.

Already, Atlanta’s own DJ Neon the Glowgobear headlined the new “Glitter Ball” party at Heretic earlier this month and he’s returning to open up the anticipated inaugural ManShaft party created by DJ Diablo Rojo on Saturday, also at the ‘Tic.

What to expect at the ManShaft?

The red devil himself says this party is for men into leather, bulging Levis, harnesses, daddies and their boys, bears, furry chests and faces, with “manly beats” to cater to the cruising the event is known for.

DJ Diablo Rojo answered a few questions ahead of the big party about excitement over moving to a new venue, the party’s humble beginnings at his home, and future events where man-on-man activity is celebrated. Oh, and brush up on your hanky code.

The ManShaft has been located at a few places, including Mary’s in East Atlanta, so how did the move to Heretic come about?

The ManShaft originated at Mary’s, then moved to Cockpit to take ad- vantage of more space. Soon, followers found themselves having to pick and choose attending the quarterly event due to its continued growth in size. The Atlanta Heretic stepped up and became just the solution we needed for adequate space with multiple service areas, and a bar layout catering to the man-to-man proximity and cruising the event is know for.

The Heretic is known for bringing in national and international DJs. Are you hoping to help local DJs with ManShaft?

Yes. I particularly appreciate the effort the Heretic and other venues have done to bring national and international acts to our weekends. Atlanta venues need to consider featuring, promoting, headlining, and being known for local entertainers and signature events. The Heretic was eager to bring the ManShaft to their space. To date, their bigger, monthly rotating events are by promoters from outside Atlanta. The Heretic felt they were over due to have a signature, Atlanta “born and bred” event to add to their impressive stockpile of events. Collaborating with Alan Collins, the Heretic’s general manager, has been nothing short of amazing for this event.

How did the theme and overall style of ManShaft come to you? And how about that name?

Attending fringe queer events in other cities, particularly those in San Francisco, inspired me. The fall of 2006 was when the idea of ManShaft was hatched. The first dry run was an event at my home called “Fetish’ween” with an attendance of about 200. The owners of Mary’s attended and with the house bursting at the seams, I turned to them and said, “We are having this at your bar, are you ready?” They said, “Name a date!”

As for the name, “The ManShaft,” it’s a twist on an iconic men’s bar in New York, back from a day and age we’ll never see the likes of again. It was called “The Mineshaft,” located in the meatpacking district just West of Greenwich Village. It was “removed” from the concentration of mainstream gay bars. Wikipedia it and check it out.

Folks often ask, “Why is the ManShaft event not in Midtown, it’s so ‘far’ to go to East Atlanta?” Its removed location was by design. I wanted to build a very specific clientele, one with true grit and both Mary’s and East Atlanta complimented the vision.

The ManShaft has several parties a year. What are they?

The “themes” or as I call them “editions” are tongue-in-cheek and gratuitously macho and iconic. Here’s the run down: February/March – “Lumberjack”; Spring – “Sports/Jock”; Summer (around Memorial Day) – the “Military”; Early Autumn – “Truck Stop”; and the final event of the year is “Levi-Leather.”

The men gear up for these unapologetically iconic male “ideas” deliciously. Also, a special edition is held annually called “The Red Light District” party. It’s at The Rivers Edge Camp- ground usually the first Saturday in August. The attire is red socks and a red jock, or leather, or simply clothing optional.

What kind of music do you spin?

The ManShaft has a very specific sound with rock ‘n roll overtones, electro, alter- native, nu/old disco, and a dash of smart mash ups. It’s as eclectic range of music just like the mix of men who come to the event. I’ve been spinning around 10 years. One of my entertaining highlights in 2014 was spinning for the Atlanta Pride Kickoff party at the Georgia Aquarium. John Walker was amazing to collaborate with and his teams made my concept for the music video setup really come to life. It was a great opportunity to entertain our community as a whole.

So what should you expect for the upcoming Levi-Leather Edition?

Expect bulging Levi’s, leather, rubber, wife beaters, harnesses, hot daddies & their boys, bears & their cubs, furry chests & faces, vintage men’s films, anything fetish goes, & the hanky code in full effect. Come early & stay late, you’ll not want to miss a drop…of the beats.

What is it you love most about being in the DJ booth, especially at a ManShaft party?

Looking out over the crowd and seeing men just “being men” with no other labels. The gear they wear is the common thread and focus of the evening.

What else do you want people to know?

The ManShaft always has a fundraising group at each event. The Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are raising money for their local convent. It’s a rare occurrence for them to specifically raise money for their chapter, so please dig in deep and help a sister out.

The MISTER Center of Positive Impact will be giving out free “ManShaft Survival” kits. It’s important to provide options for what “happens next” when you take that hot guy you meet at the event home. Consider MISTER your “manshafts” best friend. Please take advantage of the services they provide free to our community.

Bulldog Custom Leathers will be setting up in the Heretic’s leather shop. Let Bulldog gear you up with their well-crafted wears and well constructed designs.

The ManShaft welcomes DJ Neon the Glowgobear to the bill who’ll be spinning from 9-11 p.m. for “Kink It Up” cocktail hour. Then Atlanta’s favorite “red devil,” DJ Diablo Rojo will kick off the ManShaft from 11 p.m. until close with manly beats framed against a visual backdrop of rare vintage “men’s films” from the 60’s though late 70’s.