Metro Weekly

Extreme Celebration

Ric Sena dedicates the March edition of Alegria to veteran DJ Abel

Next week, Abel Aguilera, the celebrated gay circuit veteran known as DJ Abel, will turn fifty. So naturally Ric Sena is throwing him a big party.

”Usually every year I do a different theme,” says Sena, the man behind New York City’s popular circuit party Alegria. But for this year’s Alegria, pegged to Black Party weekend and known as Alegria Xtreme, Sena is forgoing a sexy, more traditional, military or red-light district theme and making sure partygoers appreciate the milestone of the man who quite literally keeps the party moving and grooving.

”It is an extreme birthday,” Sena says, ”so I decided to do the party: It’s all about Abel.” The party will also celebrate Abel’s 35 years of working as a DJ – the native New Yorker of Cuban descent got started early – including 13 years as Alegria’s resident DJ. ”People should come to celebrate him and his music,” Sena says, adding, ”There are some big surprises, I just can’t reveal what they are.” When pressed, he adds that in addition to the usual birthday cake, Sena has enlisted ”one of Abel’s favorite performers” to serenade him at the ceremony. DJ Pagano from London will spin an opening set.

The party will take place Sunday, March 24, at New York’s storied Webster Hall, which over the past few years has become one of Alegria’s key venues. Meanwhile, Sena is finalizing plans for a new venue for the Memorial Day edition of Alegria.

The same weekend as Xtreme, Sena will launch Viva Saturdays, a new weekly party in conjunction with fellow promoters John Blair and Betto Sutter. There are plans to have a rotating crop of a dozen resident DJs, each spinning every couple months, including DJ Paulo, Joe Gauthreaux and Phil Romano. And unlike Alegria, which runs for at least 12 hours, lasting until noon the next day, Viva will close by 6 a.m.

Viva will be held at Stage 48, a new venue where Sena threw a couple Alegria parties earlier this year. He doesn’t expect to repeat that with Alegria. ”Alegria’s a special event,” he explains. ”I’d rather do Alegria somewhere that’s different than where people go every week.”

Alegria Xtreme is Sunday, March 24, starting at 11 p.m. at Webster Hall, 125 East 11th St., New York. Tickets are $70 now, $80 at the door. Visit

Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.