A longtime staple of Fire Island dance parties, Anastasia C. Ledwith aka DJ Stacy has recently returned to an historic Manhattan nightlife institution as well.
Thotyssey: Hi Stacy! How was Pride?
DJ Stacy: Hi Jim… this was an awesome Pride! I DJ’d at Henrietta Hudson Friday, then did the Haus of Sucia drag brunch in Harlem, then headed right to Cherry Grove and did Cherry’s On The Bay ’til close… then came back Sunday and was back at Hens! The energy from everyone was overwhelming and fantastic!
Oh my, lots of dance floors! This has been a crazy, kinda shitty month for many… but Pride turned out to be a great fun release, even for those who had to work it.
I believe that everyone really came together in a positive light, even though we had some dark decisions made. As I was making my way into the West Village on Pride evening, there was a point where I had to get out of the Uber and walk to Hens and everyone was cheering, laughing, hugging one another… and just truly celebrating.
So where are you from originally, and was music always a part of your life while growing up?
I am from Long Island, and yes… music was always a huge part. My mom and her three sisters were always playing Donna Summer and Barry White in the house dancing around, etc. I learned how to DJ from our neighbor on turntables when I was in second grade, and from there on kept begging my parents for my own equipment. It took until I was in seventh grade when my dad finally caved, and we went to PC Richards and bought two turntables, a mixer, amp and speakers. My dad said I had to give him 10 percent from each gig to pay him back. I started doing all my school dances, and by the time I was 16 I was in bars and clubs.
What was your early nightlife DJ career like?
Back in those days it was pretty crazy. I worked in a lot of clubs in Long Island, and the local bars and clubs in my neighborhood with everyone from high school there on a Friday night. I even worked in a lot of topless strip clubs, from Long Island all the way to queens! It was the 80’s and 90’s, so there was, like, an anything goes [behavior]. People used to do lines right off the tables; they didn’t ID people back then, so I know. It was a fun time, very care free.
My first Dj gig in a gay club was for Jacque Piazza, the owner of Cherry’s On the Bay, at this place called Sizes in Bay Shore.
You are well known today as a staple Fire Island DJ, with a long time residency at Cherry’s.
17 years! This is my 17th season DJing at Cherry’s.
Amazing! What’s so special about FI for those not in the know, and how has it changed over the years that you’ve noticed?
Cherry Grove is magical, Jim. When I get in that DJ booth and get into my flow, I get chills. The feeling of everyone dancing and cheering — like, non-stop, for hours — is the most wonderful feeling in the world. It is like time stops on Fire Island, and it’s just magical moments of people full of joy! The only thing that has changed over the years is that it is not just a place for LGBTQ. It is a place, a home, for everyone. Everyone is welcome, and treated like family.
Some people think Fire Island is just a playground for circuit queens, but actually there are quite a few lesbian DJs there with long careers who have been residents and popular recurring guests like yourself, Susan Levine, Twisted Dee and Morabito! The lesbian community is still slaying the game in the Grove. Despite that admittedly hilarious SNL clip from a few years ago, lol!
That was a funny skit! Yes, I totally agree with you!
You’re wife Valerie is a longtime bar staffer on the Island as well. How is your “Living and Working with the Spouse” situation?
So Val is at Island Breeze now killing it behind the bar! Working together…. hmm. If we worked together all the time with being married and living together… well, she would probably kill me, lol! But she is the best part of my life, and I will forever love that woman.
That’s my favorite time of the season! So this year is the very first time I am not DJing on the day of the Invasion. I believe it is going to be back-to-back drag shows, but I am not sure. I am DJing at Cherry’s the 2nd and 3rd, which is Saturday and Sunday night! So, I am pretty excited to be able to actually hang out and get a closer look at all the fabulous drag outfits, etc. I think this year is going to be one of the best!
You are also a current resident DJ at Henrietta, which seems to be getting both a lot of attention as one of the last remaining queer women’s spaces and a jolt of new energy for its weekend dance parties. How long have you been there?
So I used to do Henrietta back in the day — like seven years ago, along with Stonewall.
When [owner] Lisa reopened after pandemic, she changed a lot of things; she remodeled, and just completely reinvented an already iconic place! I have been there since she reopened, and now a resident [almost] every Friday. The crowd is more diverse than ever! It used to be mostly women — even the staff. Now it is a total mix of lesbian and gay, and it is an awesome crowd with an explosive energy that reminds me of Fire Island! Awesome staff, just amazing… and I love it.
Have a great weekend! By the way, what’s exciting to you about new music right this second?
In my opinion, I don’t think there is a ton of new stuff out there. I feel like before the pandemic, artists were putting out more music — like high energy, commercial dance. But I am super happy — and I am sure like everyone else — that Beyonce has given us the new summer anthem! Love the song and the remixes they are producing are great!
Other then that: Dua Lipa, Gaga, The Week’nd and Bad Bunny are always killing it with amazing tunes.
Agreed! Okay, one last question: what might your best advice be for a baby DJ who wants to make it in the scene?
I see a lot of new DJs who do not use headphones. I am old school, but true to the art of being a DJ — and that means the ability to mix. To mix as an artist, you need to hear your beats, feel those beats and blend them together flawlessly. Even though many let the computer do it for them, I do not. I use the computer, of course — we all do. But I do my own mixing. I think it would really do wonders for them!
Thank you, Stacy!