Cheshire Bridge nightlife stalwart celebrates its quarter-century mark putting the gay in gay Atlanta with a huge blowout dance party this Saturday.
By Mike Fleming
Little in gay Atlanta has the staying power to last 25 years. Luckily for every club cub in town, Cheshire Bridge fixture the Heretic is one of those mainstays.
The bar known for its weekly man-on-man dance parties, friendly staff, dedicated ownership, and the most diverse roster of parties in town celebrates its 25th anniversary this Saturday. On tap to open is local favorite DJ Mike Pope, and taking over late night for the main event is the one and only circuit party legend DJ Tony Moran, who flies in special for the occasion.
“Heretic has been a staple in gay dance music for almost as long as I have,” Moran tells David Atlanta. “With the closings of so many of our country’s leading big room gay clubs in recent years, it’s encouraging to know that at least one of the icons remains.”
Alan Collins, general manager and partner of owner Ray Collins, agrees that there’s something about Heretic that makes it special.
“We try really hard and keep changing with the times while still staying true to what the Heretic is – a fun place for everybody,” Collins says.
And when he says everybody, he really means it.
“We host daytime and beer bust events for softball, country dancing every week, alternative queer parties every month, Atlanta Bear Pride, Ready 4 Hope, outdoor beach parties, drag shows, even women’s throwback parties to when the building location was a lesbian bar before it was Heretic.”
But even a commitment to diversity isn’t the whole story of Heretic’s success. Collins credits the loyal patrons with most of the magic. It’s been a long time since 1991, but one thing has remained the same.
“We’re so fortunate in Atlanta to have such an amazing community,” Collins says. “Atlanta guys are genuinely good people who really know how to have a good time. We love all our opportunities to show thousands of people from around the country some Southern hospitality.”
Add to that guest stars known internationally in the DJ booth and on stage, and Heretic is the stuff local gay dreams are made of.
Speaking of guest stars, this week’s David cover boy Tony Moran hits Atlanta with a headful of steam behind his latest projects.
That success is Moran’s current single “Say Yes” from his upcoming Moodswings album. As we spoke about Heretic, he found out it’s a Billboard No. 1. The dance track, written by two-time Grammy nominated Moran and Mike Greenly, features the vocals of Out Music Award winner Jason Walker. The hard-pounding single is already getting its due with remixes by some other big names in New York and beyond.
Walker and Moran previously collaborated on the singles “Set It Free” and this summer’s “So Happy.” Both of those reached No. 1 also.
“Even before ‘So Happy’ hit the top spot, I knew I wanted Jason on the ‘Say Yes,’” Moran says. “Jason has a magical voice that exudes power. He’s an incredible talent and someone that I truly believe represents the future of dance music.”
As for the rest of the Moodswings, Moran is excited to share the whole two-volume collection in January. The two volumes are the down-temp Feel, and the high-energy Move. They feature 14 original dance songs and 14 original pop, R&B and alternative productions, sung by Tony’s favorite vocalists including Martha Wash and Kimberly Davis.
And speaking of collaborations, Tony connected in-person with amazing collaborators for Moodswings like songwriters Mike Greenly, Nicki Richards, Matt Zarley, Phil McKenna, and former American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi. He also enlists a select stable of vocalists, including the aforementioned Walker, plus Ryan Shaw and Zhana Roiya, who was a background singer for Mary J Blige, Bette Midler and P. Diddy.
“We have a strong belief in each other’s talents,” Tony explains. “The entire album has allowed me to explore a wide range of ideas I believe in. I have discovered that whether a song is down-tempo or high energy, the overall theme of all of my music is love. Music is love. No matter what mood a person is in, music has the power to sweep us down to the deepest lows and swing us back up to the highest heights.
“My goal with music and in life is always to end high,” he says. “I can’t wait to celebrate 25 years of Heretic.”
Tony Moran headlines Heretic’s 25th anniversary event on Dec. 17. Visit hereticatlanta.com.