On Friday, Jan. 21 at Bacchus Restaurant, DJ and Drag Performer Matthew Rojas presented a fourth addition of his “Self Care” nights that he has been hosting since late 2021.
The series of events, which kicked off on Oct. 8, are advertised as queer dance parties featuring music from Rojas himself, who also goes by DJ Fantasea, along with live art installations and performances from other guests occurring throughout the night.
The event places a huge emphasis on giving LGBTQ+ members of the New Paltz community an accessible space that is truly theirs in order to have fun.
“Throw a lewk together, get all your friends and come for some self care under the lights, lasers and music played by me for you!” Rojas instructed guests in an Instagram post for the Oct. 8 show. “There’s not enough spaces in New Paltz or the Hudson Valley where queer people can gather, let their freak flags fly and dance together.”
Like previous nights, the cover charge for the most recent show was $8, but Rojas also stated on Instagram that “no one will be turned away for a lack of funds.”
Along with hosting “Self Care,” Rojas also serves as the DJ for the events put on by Hudson Valley-based drag collective, Haus of Peculiar. Performing his own individual sets and emceeing the actual drag shows themselves, which are commonly held in the New Paltz area at Snug Harbor as well as Bacchus, are just two of the many contributions he makes to the queer community in the town.
During the height of the pandemic, Rojas also hosted numerous outdoor Haus of Peculiar events in Hasbrouck Park. With the return of live events after COVID-19 lockdowns, Haus of Peculiar has put on countless events this past year with their own theme, some being centered around celebrating the members’ birthdays, including Rojas’. They have also made appearances at various drag events in other towns in upstate New York, including Albany, Poughkeepsie and Utica.
Support has always been a prominent value for the Haus. All of the funds collected from their recent “White Rabbit” show, also at Bacchus, went towards a gender reaffirming surgery fund for one of their performers.
At the most recent “Self Care,” Rojas DJed alongside special guest star and fellow Hudson Valley-based DJ ZenMasterMongo, who has made appearances at past Haus of Peculiar sets at Bacchus in the past.
This isn’t the first time that a guest DJ has been featured; the dance party series has highlighted several local musicians and music curators, such as producer and DJ Apprentess, “a New Paltz local and is making waves in the Bass music scene,” Rojas said in an Instagram post advertising the Nov. 6 show.
Nightlife and bar-hopping is a large part of being a resident in the town of New Paltz at the moment. Events like Rojas’ “Self Care” parties not only support the bars that are hosting them, but also the independent artists whose livelihoods are based in performing. They rely on people attending the events and having a good time enjoying the art and vibe that they are creating.
When you pay cover fees at establishments like Bacchus or Snug Harbor during a performance, that money is going to keep the creators going, and, as shown with Haus of Peculiar’s “White Rabbit” show, can also contribute to very important causes in their lives.
“Self Care” gives attendees the opportunity to have a fun night, have the freedom to express themselves and their identity and stay safe, since COVID-19 vaccinations and masks are “not only sexy but required.”
This goes for not only performers, but the bands that play at bars as well. New Paltz is rampant with creative talent, and showing up to their gigs is one of the best ways to directly support them and ensure that they keep on making the music, spinning the songs or coming up with the drag themes that they love.
As Rojas said in his Instagram post about the recent “Self Care” party, “There could really be 100 people in the room and all you need is for one to believe in you!”