Gay clubs were once the avant-garde for new dance music, with whole genres being born in places like the Paradise Garage in New York, The Warehouse in Chicago, and Todd's here in Detroit. But nowadays, gay clubbing usually means you're in for a nonstop soundtrack of, say, Top 40 remixes. It doesn't have to be this way.
After building a reputation for one of the best disco nights in town, Macho City DJs Mike Trombley and Scott Zacharias (check out the playlist they made for us last week), took a break for a year and a half. But the people have spoken — we want more disco, and we want it on a monthly basis. Joined by resident DJ Jeffrey Sfire, Macho City returns to Menjo's on Saturday. We caught Trombley by phone to talk about the return of the DJ night and disco's bad rap.
Metro Times: How'd Macho City start?
Mike Trombley: It'll be our six-year anniversary in March. It started as a monthly in Philly. I lived there for four years, but I'm originally from Detroit. We did two parties and they did really well, and then my partner got a job here in Detroit. So we moved back, and I thought I'd just try it here to see if it would do well. And to my surprise, it really did.
MT: Who else was behind Macho City in Philadelphia?
Trombley: Ron Morelli, he's the head of that label L.I.E.S. – Long Island Electrical Systems. It's become one of the biggest underground house labels of the past few years. It was him and myself.
MT: Where will Macho City be held this time?
Trombley: I got a call from the manager of The R&R Saloon and apparently the R&R has officially closed its doors for good. The good news is that Menjo's has offered to host the party this month. Menjo's is a great bar with incredible history — it was one of Madonna's favorite spots to dance in the late '70s. We're happy to play there this month.
MT: Did you always dig disco?
Trombley: I come from an indie and punk background in terms of high school and college, but I've always been curious about the classic underground house scene in Chicago and obviously Detroit techno and the stuff that preceded the disco stuff. And around early 2000, kind of with the birth of (New York label DFA), it really made me look back at disco and really appreciate it.
Really the whole incentive for creating Macho City was to create an event where everyone is welcome — gay or straight, male or female, old or young. At the time, in Philly and Detroit as well, there wasn't a gay night where you didn't have to go in and hear trance remixes of Britney Spears songs. So, it offered something to a segment of the young gay community, to gay culture, that was really yearning for something different.
MT: Do you have a really big collection?
Trombley: My collection pales in comparison to Scott's. I do have an entire room in the house that's all records. I've been collecting since college, so almost 20 years now. It's gotten to a point with the crowd where it doesn't matter if you play a Sylvester track that people do recognize; you can follow it up with something they've never heard — it doesn't affect the dance floor. People come out and they dance the entire time — and that I really appreciate. We'll play a lot of nu-disco stuff that fits perfectly well with the older stuff. Then we'll also delve into the Chicago house stuff, even some afro-house, a little bit of techno. But it's certainly disco-oriented.
MT: Anything else you think we should know about the return of Macho City?
Trombley: We're just excited. We both were missing the whole vibe and how fun it was. It's getting cold, and I kind of want that monthly outlet again.
Macho City starts at 10 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 29 at Menjo's, 928 McNichols Rd., Detroit; 313-863-3934; newmenjoscomplex.com.