At dance parties and festivals from Miami to Mykonos, Atlanta to D.C., a voice chants over house drums to announce his arrival. “Dance now, Dan Slater! Dance now, Dan Slater!” Then the beat drops, and the crowd goes wild.
What started as a joke among friends has become an international calling card for the affable Sydney native, a superstar DJ, producer, and certified dance floor daddy with a new THK underwear/swimwear collab under his belt.
Inside the DJ booth, he’s a smiling, gyrating conduit of beats-happy energy, but Slater strikes a more subdued presence chatting over Zoom from a friend’s home in L.A., all the while calmly folding laundry on the couch. Still, he’s no less forthcoming with his feelings, even when emotions spill over as he recalls “a really, really rough period of [his] life” during and after COVID lockdowns.
Speaking frankly, albeit frequently off the record, Slater shares that he’s been rocked by significant losses recently, including a friend’s death. “Mental health awareness is something we all need to be aware of,” he insists. “It’s really important. There’s a stigma attached to it, but we all need to be aware that it’s okay to want to talk to people.”
Slater has modeled that openness, talking in interviews about coping with those rough patches in his life by seeking out a therapist. “I still see her every week,” he says. “It was kind of weird the way that it all worked out that she’s actually a sex therapist as well, so it’s made me feel very comfortable with talking about mental health awareness but also sexuality.”
He also talks about the benefits of using House of Intuition’s Magic Candles to manifest different things in life. “During pandemic, a friend of mine, he gave me these candles,” Slater explains. “I’ve done the success. I’ve done the road opener. House blessing I’ve done when I moved into my new house. Healing one I’ve done.”
What Slater says he’d most like to manifest in 2024 is a fresh start, as he prepares to move to Dallas from L.A., and put a recently ended relationship behind him. “Embrace change, and clear the way to new beginnings,” is the mantra he’s living now, as he continues to jet around the globe bringing joyful music — and his flamingo-colored Dan Slater Jock — to the throbbing masses.
For this year’s Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, he’ll be spinning for those masses at DiscoVers, the closing night party Kinetic is producing for the Centaur MC. The evening will also feature DJ Alexis Tucci and porn stallion Boomer Banks. And while leather-clad revelers dance below, DJ Dan Slater, probably in his puppy mask, will be up in the booth, gleefully manifesting a fabulous time for all.
METRO WEEKLY: I assume that you were working somewhere on New Year’s — or do you avoid going out on New Year’s Eve like lots of other people?
DAN SLATER: No, I was DJing in Puerto Vallarta [on the 27th], and then on the 31st I played in Atlanta. So everything’s kind of, especially post-pandemic, everything’s kicked back into gear now. Atlanta is one of my favorite places to play — like D.C., Chicago, Atlanta.
MW: I was going to ask if the places that you like to work are the same places that you like to party when you’re not working?
SLATER: No. My home life — even though our weekend schedules seem pretty crazy, my home life is very, very chilled out. I love having people over for dinner. It’s just nice to be able to sit down and talk and eat and relax and watch trashy reality television.
MW: What’s your show?
SLATER: Oh, I’m probably going to get canceled if I say it. Okay, so currently I am loving Twin Love. And what is that other show called? Oh, The Ultimatum.
MW: I don’t know that one.
SLATER: The Ultimatum is actually about lesbians, where they either get married or they split up, but then they get to choose a different partner.
MW: Oh yes, I have heard of that. You’re laughing. Because they usually…?
SLATER: There’s some crazy lesbian shit.
MW: Okay. That sounds like a good recommendation. So, something else I want to talk about is your underwear. Literally, your Dan Slater Jock and Dan Slater Swim Brief made by, now tell me, is it Thirsty Male or Thick Male, how would I say it?
SLATER: So, the website is thirstymale, but it’s actually THKmale. It’s all about body positivity. All different people, different body types, like twinks, muscle studs. I met the guys on the Vista cruise from Athens to Venice, and they wanted to see if I wanted to do a collaboration with them. They said, “Would you like to release a line of swimwear and jockstraps?” And I was like, “Yes, one hundred percent.” Because I think it’s definitely a brand that I align with.
MW: Is this a one-off collaboration, or is there going to be a Dan Slater Jock 2.0, a thong?
SLATER: So at the moment we’ve got three designs. We’ve only recently released the first capsule, but it’s going to be a continuous collaboration.
MW: And how does it feel to see your name emblazoned across some other guy’s ass?
SLATER: It’s kind of surreal, to be honest. I released a line of merchandise, which is Dance Now Dan Slater. And I came up with that just before pandemic. I used to be a dancer back in Australia, I did musical theater and commercial stuff. And my friends used to make fun of me like, “Dance now, Dan Slater,” so I was like, “Mm, now that I’m a DJ, how can we capitalize on that?” So, I released a line of merchandise, and it’s so nice to see so many supportive fans and friends buying merchandise, wearing them to events, yelling out, “Dance Now!” And I’m like, “This is crazy, I would never in my…” [through tears] God, I’m getting emotional. What’s going on?
MW: Oh, it’s the power that we have between us. It’s good. Not only does the “Dance Now, Dan Slater,” I’m sure, look good on a t-shirt, but it’s a great way of announcing yourself to a dance floor. I love when the DJ changes, hearing that the new DJ is on, I love that announcement.
SLATER: So, even though it was a running joke between me and my friends, it’s been something that has been very, very powerful, and very helpful to brand myself and also make a statement. I have a Bachelor of Business in Marketing — so Marketing 101 to know how to brand yourself.
MW: How much does image play into promoting yourself as a DJ?
SLATER: I don’t necessarily think it’s about image, I think it’s about being a full package and being able to be versatile within your music. Be easy to work with, and be true to yourself. If you’re playing music that you really love and are passionate about, people are going to be able to feel it when you’re performing.
And I think there’s been a slight change — definitely a shift — towards more house music and disco. Trends in music are constantly changing. And if you can evolve with that, then you’re going to be more successful in your career. I always try and find at least ten new tracks for each set to keep it fresh, just for myself.
MW: And what part does showmanship play in it for you? Because I’ve seen DJs who aren’t really giving a lot of showmanship up there, but could still be dropping good beats, keeping the floor moving. But I see that you’re really animated.
SLATER: Totally. I think it’s because I used to be a dancer that I’m so used to being onstage, and I love what I do. I love bringing joy to people’s lives.
MW: And now taking it back a second, how did you go from musical theater and dancing to spinning on the decks?
SLATER: The last show that I did was Chicago the Musical — we did the Australian and Asia tour. But I just got to a point in my career where I felt like, “You need to find something, a new career you’re passionate about.” So, I went to university, I did a Bachelor of Business in Marketing, and I was doing my internship with Foxtel, which is like the pay-TV place in Australia.
And I was working in the marketing team where they developed Australia’s Next Top Model, all the different shows. I was going to go and work there but I started DJing just as a side thing — not even a side job, but just to have a creative outlet. Didn’t tell anyone that I was doing it, would just do it at home, practice for hours and hours by myself or just playing music.
And then, I found out there was a competition for Sydney Mardi Gras, where you could play an opening set. So, I thought, “I’m just going to enter.” And I won. And that was the first gig I ever did, the opening set at Sydney Mardi Gras. And then, from there, things just took off, so I’m very, very fortunate.
MW: Well, you must have been very, very prepared as well.
SLATER: Nervous, very nervous, yeah.
MW: And how did you then arrive at your sound, your style? I’ll say that when I’m listening to your sets, I love — because I like dance music I can sing along to and emote to — that you are not afraid of a vocal. So, how did you get there?
SLATER: So, originally, when I first started DJing, my passion is deep house, tropical house. And I love lyrics, I love things that I can sing along to. I just love playing music that makes you happy.
Everyone has a certain style, but music for me is something that’s been in our house for so long. My mom was a music teacher, she taught us how to play piano, clarinet, saxophone as we were growing up. So it was always this thing, we’d go on road trips, and mom and dad would play old musicals and songs like — who did they have the records to? Like Christopher Cross, Tina Arena, Barry Manilow. We had all these different styles. My mom is German and my dad is South African, so very, very mixed up, very eclectic cultures.
MW: And where did you grow up?
SLATER: Sydney, Australia.
MW: Were you going out while you were growing up, or did nightlife come later?
SLATER: Basically, as soon as I turned 18, I was… Well, when I turned 18 in July of 2000. And I actually was studying to do, I guess, my senior year. But at the same time, it was the Sydney Olympics and I danced for Kylie Minogue at the Sydney Olympics. And I also was working on Moulin Rouge, the movie. So, we’d all go out as a cast and that’s how I got introduced to nightlife.
But then, it wasn’t something that I kind of worked in until 2005 when I was a back dancer for Courtney Act in Australia. This is before she’d even kind of like — oh no, I think she’d won Australian Idol, or she’d been on Australian Idol, by this stage. But yeah, we were all like little club kids growing up, and all the people that I started going out with, we’re still all super close. We’re all on WhatsApp, we have a WhatsApp group where we talk to each other, and, yeah, that’s how I got introduced to nightlife.
MW: Were you in the Moulin Rouge Green Fairy scene?
SLATER: I was in the opening scene where they first go into the club. Green Fairy, that was pretty much all on green screen with Kylie Minogue.
MW: Was that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” then?
SLATER: Yes, that’s it exactly, the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” scene, the opening, yeah.
MW: I love that movie.
SLATER: Oh, my God, same. I’m going to send you links to a couple of things that I did, like I danced for Dannii Minogue on the Logie Awards, which is, I guess, the equivalent of, what are your TV awards here — your Golden Globes or something like that?
MW: The Emmys and the Golden Globes.
SLATER: Yeah. And we’ve got Kylie Minogue, Dancing Queen.
MW: Did you come out in Sydney?
SLATER: I came out when I was finishing Mamma Mia, which would’ve been… I officially came out in 2005, because my boyfriend and I —
MW: Well, once there’s a boyfriend.
SLATER: Yeah. I had my first boyfriend back in 2002, but I didn’t come out to my family until 2005.
MW: Those are different things for sure.
SLATER: Very different things. So, my boyfriend and I, we actually danced together on Moulin Rouge, we did the Olympics together, we did Dannii Minogue together. It was just all these different things. And then, we ended up doing We Will Rock You [the Queen musical] together in Japan, and we’re still friends.
MW: You stay friends with folks?
SLATER: Yeah, totally. People come in and out of your life for a specific reason.
MW: A couple of other DJ questions. One, where do you stand on celebrity DJs or part-timers? Somebody that comes to mind is the Goldman Sachs CEO, David Solomon — DJ D-Sol — who apparently had to give it up because his shareholders were mad.
SLATER: Look, I didn’t even know that he did that, but Paris Hilton? I actually got to DJ with her at New York Pride this year, and she can actually DJ and she puts on a show. She had Sam Smith, Kim Petras, Aqua, she had, who else did she have? Sugar and Spice, Jan Sport, it was a full package. So, props to them if you can DJ and put on a performance. I feel like we’re here to entertain and bring joy to people’s lives.
MW: You work a lot of circuit parties, which a lot of gay men love, absolutely. And then, a lot of other gay men and other LGBTQ people might consider them not welcoming to all kinds of people. Are circuit parties for everybody, really?
SLATER: I really think they are. And I think there’s more of a stigma attached to it, or people are like, “Oh, you’re going to a circuit party,” or “You’re a circuit queen.” Sometimes when people are trying to speak negatively about something, it’s like they’re almost putting things down because they want to do it themselves, but look negatively against it, which is kind of weird.
For Sydney World Pride, the brief was — because I was the curator for the Domain Dance Party, which was the biggest event for Sydney World Pride, we had 24,000 people — and the brief was, “We want to have an all-inclusive circuit party.” And when I first thought about it, I was like, “Fuck, how do we do this?” But we put it together. We had DJs from all around the world, inclusive in regards to lesbian, bisexual, gay, and people of color, all nationalities. We literally put on an all-inclusive circuit event.
And we had all different people. It was a really, really good thing to be a part of because, A, it was in Sydney, and it was back in my old stomping grounds, and B, my family got to come and attend. My mom was there and I could see her… [Pauses, tearing up] So embarrassing. I never cry. I could see my cousins who had never been to a circuit party in their lives just push their way right to the front. And we had Kelly Rowland perform as well, and she was incredible. It was beautiful.
MW: Growing up in Sydney, and coming to terms with your sexuality, did you ever feel that it was easier because you were there and not out in the Outback somewhere?
SLATER: I do feel like growing up it was hard, because I kept the fact that I was a dancer secret because I was scared that I was going to get teased at school or bullied. But then, when I actually came out, it was really, really fine. The one thing that was very concerning for me is that during Sydney World Pride, after the event that I did, I basically was exhausted for four days, because you know how you put so much energy and stuff into it, and it was just like, you finally get to decompress.
Anyway, I went to the Bondi Beach party the following Saturday and I was like, “Oh, I’m just gonna go out for one hour with my friends so I can enjoy it.” I was like, “You guys stay out, have fun, but I have to go home, I am exhausted.” Anyway, I’m walking up Oxford Street, and turn onto King’s Cross Road and I saw six guys — two on the sidewalk, two behind the car, two on the road. Luckily, I’m street smart, and as soon as I saw them, I ran. They’re like, “You faggot.” And “What the fucking are you running for?”
They started chasing me down the street and I ran all the way to the police station. But I’m a 41-year-old man nearly getting assaulted during World Pride. So that was something that really seemed very triggering.
MW: I just saw a New Yorker post about being assaulted on the streets of Brooklyn, making the point that it really can happen anywhere.
SLATER: To anyone, and you just don’t expect it to happen at any time either. It’s like, “Okay, this stuff still happens!” and it’s like, “Okay, why? Why is this still happening to us?”
MW: And why are those guys not doing something more productive with their time?
SLATER: Exactly. So, it was when I finally got to the police, they’re like, “You want to come in, do you want to make a statement?” I’m like, “No, but would you like to actually just maybe go and check out the fact that this is happening? You’re constantly saying you’re policing the events and trying to make it safe, but this is off Oxford Street, a few blocks from where the clubs and bars are that this is happening.”
MW: So, those guys were lurking specifically for that purpose?
SLATER: Yeah, exactly. This stuff still happens. And that’s the first time it happened to me.
MW: So, you’re in the midst of moving, you said from L.A. to Dallas. The video interview that I saw, you were living in Miami. Why Dallas, why now?
SLATER: My thing for 2024 is “Embrace change and clear the way for a new beginning.” So, I’m just looking for a fresh start, being around my friends, having my own place and independence again.
MW: Which leads me to, is being an international DJ — all the travel, all the different places — a great way to meet guys, or is it really not a great way to meet guys?
SLATER: To be honest, all my boyfriends that I’ve met, I have not met at an event or a club or anything like that. I’ve just met them by chance, whether it’s on the street, at the gym, through friends. I keep my inner circle very small.
MW: I don’t know if that was an answer really to the question. So it’s neither good nor bad?
SLATER: No, definitely being an international DJ is a great way of meeting people, but, yeah, I think a relationship is something that happens when you least expect it. And when you’re also ready for it personally.
MW: Oh, that’s absolutely true. That’s always been my experience. Oh, but my last question is, in that laundry you’re folding, are there any Dan Slater jocks or swimwear?
SLATER: [Laughs.] It’s all like tea towels left over from dinner last night. Tea towels. We’re cleaning up from last night’s dinner party.
MW: Ooh, very sexy.
SLATER: So sexy. There are no Dan Slater jockstraps or underwear here.
MW: Would you DJ in them, or have you?
SLATER: In my own underwear? Yeah, of course. I wear my merch to gigs.
MW: Well, we want to put that out there, that they might catch you in the swimwear or the jock sometime.
SLATER: Oh yeah, totally. Of course. I love wearing the underwear, the swimwear, jocks, whatever.
MW: Good. So, maybe then at MAL?
SLATER: Yeah. I’ll be wearing something there for sure. Probably my puppy mask.
DJs Dan Slater headlines KINETIC Presents DiscoVers on Sunday, Jan. 14, from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. at SAX, 734 11th St. NW. Tickets are $45 to $70. DJ Alex Tucci and porn star Boomer Banks are also part of the lineup. Visit www.kineticpresents.com.
For information about MAL 2024, from Jan. 12 through 15 at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, visit www.leatherweekend.com.
Find the Dan Slater jock and swim brief collection at www.thkmale.com.
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