Alegria Aladdin: NYC Pride 2010

by Mark Thompson

EDGE Style & Travel Editor

Thursday July 8, 2010

Years ago, the Nokia Theatre on 44th Street was the Loews Astor Plaza, the largest movie theatre in Manhattan and the scene of numerous opening nights and film premieres-and it was in keeping with this illustrious history, that Alegria Aladdin debuted at the Nokia on Sunday night of Pride weekend.

Voted Best National Party of 2009 by EDGE Media Network, Alegria Pride is, for many, the definitive NYC Pride party-and there was widespread concern that when M2, the former home of Alegria, was shuttered by the authorities, Alegria would be left homeless.

The Alegria faithful, however, knew better; they knew that producer Ric Sena would find the perfect venue for Alegria's latest incarnation-and as soon as the boys landed on 44th Street and glanced up at the 85-foot long LED Nokia Theatre marquee, they knew that Alegria Aladdin had landed at the perfect locale. Just as every Disney film opens with animated Tinker Bell fairy dust and Sleeping Beauty's castle, so, too, did the Nokia marquee have an Alegria mini-movie, complete with opening titles and production credits-and a hand rubbing the magic lamp: make a wish and watch it come true, at Alegria Aladdin.

And what better way to enter a dream world than through a steeply descending, blue-illuminated tunnel, at the end of which was another animated marquee of Aladdin and his magic lamp, in front of which the boys were posing for photos before their magic carpet ride.

Alegria Makes Its Home Wherever It Lands

For those who’ve partied at Arabian Nights, the cavernous palace in Kissimmee, outside of Orlando, Florida, the Nokia Theatre has similar properties: expansive and labyrinthine lobbies and lounges (VIP and otherwise) wending around the 2,100-capacity interior, all designed by the award-winning Rockwell Group.

Of course, Alegria always makes a venue its own, regardless of how well-designed the space is-and while Sena’s Aladdin décor remained mired in US customs bureaucracy, that snafu didn’t prevent anyone at Alegria Aladdin from being transported on a magic carpet ride.

Because while Alegria’s décor and lights are most decidedly amplifying factors on the way to achieving dance floor nirvana, the truth is, Alegria is first and foremost about the music-and without décor, then it’s ALL about the music-and that’s how DJ Pagano played it. This was Pagano’s second Alegria-and he tore up the house with a thundering set that was both soulful and deep, working in tracks such as Ke’s "Strange World" and Rosabel’s remix of Pagano’s "Drama on the Dance Floor," creating a perfect Pride journey that was a reminder of where we’ve been and where we’re heading.

Boyz packed the floor, spilling onto the tiered stadium seating and working it out along the mezzanines, bumping and grinding along the railings. Such a happy horde of gorgeous men-and all of them under the sway of Stephen Wyker’s mesmerizing lights and Pagano’s seamless mixing of his dark and sexy tapestry.

Sexy Siren Zhana

Or as one boy put it: "Relentless!" This was the third successive night of the NYC Pride marathon-and the house was filled with relentless diehards such as Betto Mares, Andres Monteil, Jaker, Michael Circuit Dancer, Corey Hill, Robert Garcia, "Spaghetti" Damiano, "Mango Sprinkles" aka James, Atlantis Admiral Rich Campbell, Tod and Gorm, Andrew Pritchard, Erica Gabriel, DJ Luke Johnstone, Abel and Oliver, Joseph-as well as that sexy siren, Zhana, the voice behind "Waiting for Alegria" and "Love Dominates" who took the stage in a killer silver lamé catsuit and ripped into her latest hit, "Broke Free."

Thereafter, it was all about DJs Chus & Ceballos, those indomitable Iberians who grabbed the controls and sent that magic carpet spinning with a musical journey of such celebration and intensity that the floor remained packed-right through to closing at noon.

Alegria Aladdin was the eleventh Pride celebration produced by Ric Sena-and proof positive that the genie continues to grant the wishes of the Alegria family. And now with Nokia Theatre as Alegria’s new home, the stage is set for the upcoming Alegria 10th Anniversary celebration on Sunday, September 5th, 2010. Ten years of Alegria-relive them all!

A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.