This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a violent clash and series of demonstrations in New York City brought on by a police raid of a gay bar, back when homosexuality was still anathema in the United States. That milestone led to the first-ever Gay Pride parade in New York City. Today, Pride is celebrated throughout June in more progressive parts of the U.S., although there are still equalities to be won.
It's important to celebrate how far we have come as a culture and an institution, and the popularity of electronic dance music is one such factor in the queerification of the Americas. Disco and house music both spawned from the queer communities of New York City and Chicago, respectively, and a multitude of queer DJs and producers continue to represent the sounds of tomorrow. To praise these contributions and celebrate this year's Pride Month, Apple Music has compiled a collection of forward-thinking mixes from LGBTQ+ DJs and producers across all shades of the sonic spectrum.
"As part of Apple Music’s month-long Pride celebration, we wanted to do something special with LGBTQ+ DJs, as they’ve been an integral part of shaping dance music's culture and sound since the beginning," Apple Music's Dance Programmer and Editor Robby Engle tells Billboard Dance. "Over the past year or so, we’ve prioritized DJ mixes and representing dance culture as authentically as possible at Apple Music, so this was a perfect opportunity to invite some of our favorite artists to create a DJ mix to celebrate Pride. We’re proud to have worked with 17 artists of different nationalities, gender identities, and sexualities who made DJ Mixes in the spirit of Pride. All of these mixes are different flavors of dance music, and even some hip hop, that show the true diversity of our community."
Engle goes on to praise the work of label partners Dubset and Anjunabeats, as well as queer parties Rhonda INTL and POOF DOOF, who helped in mix curation.
"Rhonda INTL was founded on the principle that club culture is queer culture," says Rhonda INTL co-founder and musical director Loren Granich. "We're honored to work with so many brilliant international artists from the queer community who embody this ethos while continuing to push musical and sexual boundaries."
Mixes include sets from cartoon-colored future and bass lover Ducky, cross-genre beat master Kittens, vibrant dance-pop producer Kandy, self-proclaimed Jersey club queen Uniiqu3, techy house lover J. Worra and more. Hear Kandy's mix below, check out all 15 mixes Apple Music and read some of the DJs' Pride mix inspirations here.
"Reflecting on Pride whilst creating this mix, I couldn't help but be transported to the late 1970's and early 1980's, and how this sound of pulsating bass lines, rich melodies and electronic innovation has turned-on queer dance floors for decades. World Pride Paradiso explores these sounds in a modern context, showcasing tracks that directly sample classics like "Fame" and "Le Freak" as well as nu-disco records from queer artists, our allies and our gay icons that remind us that disco is not dead."
"I am honored to provide the soundtrack to Pride parties worlwide, but it’s the energy that erupts on the dancefloor that makes the magical moments shine on."
"As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s important to have a voice within the dance music scene. It’s imperative for me to show others that it’s okay to be the best most authentic you that you can be."
"Pride is a time where LGBTQ can be reminded that we have allies and that there is strength in numbers. There is no better feeling than seeing everyone come together to celebrate equality and acceptance."
"My Apple Pride mix is about a love beyond the material world that anyone can experience. This is about soul to soul connection that has nothing to do with our physical bodies, it’s about what happens when two people’s hearts tether to become one.'
B!tch Be Cool
"To us, Pride is the celebration of our differences. From the beginning of our project, we have always made a point to stay true to who we are as individuals and as a team. Coming together with those who are different provides perspective, understanding and maximum opportunity to be creative. We are honored to be a part of this compilation and will always be advocates for the LGBTQ community."
"Pride is a culmination of freedom and self-expression. My mix explores my inspirations from a variety of genres, tempos, and energies."