The early evening set at the Georgia Aquarium, which runs from 6:30-11:30 p.m., is a unique way to get the Pride party weekend started, as attendees can view the aquarium’s exhibits and enjoy cocktails, while others sweat it out on the Atrium dance floor.
“The type of feeling I’m going for at this year’s event, is an up-beat, fun and energetic mood,” Fry says. “Being a Pride kick-off party, I want to keep it light, lively and entertaining.
“For some the music is just background noise, for others, it’s on the top of their list,” Fry adds. “So my goal will be to try and build the vibe as the night goes on, and if I’m able to reach the crowd and get everyone on the same page, I believe it will be a enjoyable night.”
Playing at such an esteemed venue can be somewhat surreal, but gay people partying in the crown jewel of Atlanta fills Fry with pride.
“I feel very privileged and excited to be able to DJ at the aquarium again,” he says. “It’s such an amazing space that we are able to use, and if any city deserves a venue like this [for Pride], it’s Atlanta.”
The opening festivities aptly shift from the Georgia Aquarium to Jungle for the official after-party, “Best of the 80s,” where DJ Ed Bailey will be behind the turntables.
Thursday & Friday
While the Friday night party at the Georgia Aquarium marks the official opening of Pride weekend, the gay and lesbian frolicking starts on Oct. 7 with a comedy show at Bellissima, and a drop-in by “American Idol” alum Frenchie Davis at the Indulge party at the W Midtown.
“She’s in a musical that’s premiering at the 14th Street Playhouse that night, and after the premiere of ‘Show & Tell,’ the two stars are walking across the street to the W to sing a couple of the songs live at Indulge,” says promoter Chris Coleman.
The Indulge party also features beats by DJ Lydia Prim and DJ Jeffrey Jacobs, as well a meet-and-greet with the adorable gay cowboy from “Big Brother 10,” Steven Daigle.
On Friday night, Coleman christens the new Club Reign on 11th and Peachtree streets with a dance party featuring DJ Mike Cruz of New York, along with a delectable underwear fashion show by Zelus. Also on tap for the gay boys on Friday are DJ Karlitos spinning at Jungle, DJ Lydia Prim at Heretic, and boisterous crowds at neighborhood joints like Blake’s, Burkhart’s, Mary’s and the Eagle.
The ladies have plenty of party options on Friday night, including the “Fire & Ice” party at My Sisters’ Room, a two-day affair that features the voluptuous rock group The Fuel Girls, and performances by drag maven GiGi Monroe.
Friday is also the night for what has become one of the leading lesbian social events in Atlanta, as the Heaven party takes over the Park Tavern.
“It’s going to be a multi-level party, with a tent set up outside with an awesome view of the Atlanta skyline,” says Anna Ragghianti, owner of Bellissima and SWA-RE, which produces the Heaven party.
The Heaven party attempts to lift the expectations for lesbian parties in Atlanta, featuring everything from an arts market, to go-go dancers wearing angel wings, to an aerial performance, to three separate DJs — DJ Duck, Miami’s DJ Dimples and Atlanta favorite DJ Vicki Powell. To further get attendees in the whimsical spirit, the party offers perks such as no lines for women wearing angel wings.
“We get a great mix of about a thousand people, mostly women, but guys are welcome,” says Ragghianti, who believes women have more plentiful party options for Pride weekend than in the past. “Our theme is ‘Set Aside Your Senses,’ and we really just tried to create a really fun, visually stimulating atmosphere.”
Saturday & Sunday
Another marquee event for women takes place on Saturday at the “Peach Mega Dance Party” at the Loft at Center Stage, hosted by Curve Magazine and Pandora Events.
Pandora hosts blowout ladies’ parties such as “Girls In Wonderland” during Gay Days at Disney, and brings DJ Pat Pat and DJ Lisa Pittman to amp up Atlanta lesbians during Pride.
“There will be two different vibes of music among the DJs, as well as some go-go girls, a band and a light performance,” says Yesi Olivera-Leon, co-owner of Pandora Events. “A lot of entertainment is what we bring, and we want to provide a party for all types of women — white, black, Asian, young, older, it doesn’t matter.”
For the male crowd on Saturday, Florida-based DJ Josh Bula brings his beauty and beats to Mixx Atlanta, while DJ Ed Bailey spins at Jungle, and DJ Mike Pope works the turntables at Heretic for a party benefitting the charity Joining Hearts.
At the Atlanta Eagle, DJ Moose spins on Thursday, DJ David Knapp mans the tables on Friday and Saturday night ushers in DJ Pat Scott.
Coleman brings his recurring “Club Q” party to Sector 4, a new venue on 3rd and Spring streets, where DJ Paulo will be spinning on Saturday. With Sector 4 zoned as an event space instead of a club, the Club Q party will stretch into 8 a.m. Sunday.
“It’s going to be really fantastic,” Coleman says. “It’s been so long since we’ve been able to party until 8 a.m. during Pride, especially in the heart of the city as opposed to after-hour parties outside the city, so I think it’s very exciting.”
Coleman closes the weekend with another marathon party on Sunday night, with a T-dance at Club Opera at 6 p.m., featuring DJ Luis Perez. Later that evening, DJ Manny Lehman will take over the turntables at Opera and keep the party going until 3 a.m., followed by an after-party with DJ Martin Fry at the Spring 4th Center.
Top photo: DJs spinning at Pride weekend parties include Manny Lehman, pictured, and DJ Duck, among others. (Courtesy photo)