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The Little Queer Disco That Could

Jellyfish Presents JellyFest, July 21 and 22.

Jellyfish DJs Ricky Moslen and Formosa(Steph Tsong). Photo by Elisa Cevallos, courtesy of Jellyfish.

DJs Ricky Moslen and Steph Tsong(aka Formosa) are taking a risk. It’s not the first time they’ve done so though. If those names sound familiar, it’s because they are the people behind the popular monthly Pittsburgh queer dance party Jellyfish. The duo took a risk and started the party(along with original founding member Adam Shuck) in 2017 “with the idea of combining forces to create a party that felt a bit different and brought together our musical and visual influences,” according to Moslen. In its six-year existence, the party has grown tremendously. And now, Jellyfish is taking on an even bigger but equally as exciting and risky endeavor: JellyFest, a queer music festival spanning two days and three venues, on July 21 and 22 at Trace Brewing, Cobra, and Spirit.

Jellyfish started small. Just a simple queer dance party at P-Town bar in North Oakland. Just six years later, the DJs of Jellyfish are in high demand. In just the past few months alone, Moslen and Tsong have played together in Columbus, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and New York City, twice. Even with that kind of success though, the pair has remained humble. When asked how they knew now was the time to try something bigger, Moslen responded with a laugh, “We didn’t. I guess we’re taking a bit of a creative and financial risk with this. We’ll see how it goes, but at least I can say that, musically, it’s the most excited I’ve been for an event in Pittsburgh in a long time!”

So what exactly is Moslen so excited for? “With JellyFest, we’re trying something a bit different–an almost 20-hour party that’s curated as a singular idea. We wanted a shot at throwing something like that but keeping it queer and exciting,” he tells me. “JellyFest is a queer festival with a mishmash of different styles that influences Jellyfish. We’re so happy to bring the legendary Light Asylum to Pittsburgh, which is their only tour stop this summer,  along with so many other DJs and artists across genres like dark wave, italo disco, house, etc. I’m sure you’ll find something at JellyFest that you love or, at the very least, you’ll discover something new.”

Take a moment and just look at this ridiculous line-up:

Music:

  • Dee Diggs
  • DJ Hermano
  • Facets
  • Gizmoe
  • Honcho
  • Jellyfish
  • La Neve(Live)
  • Light Asylum(Live)
  • Mary Mack
  • Mutualism
  • Savannah G
  • Sharlese
  • Sindri
  • Sneeze Awfull(Live)
  • Tabasheer

Drag:

  • Agni Paradise
  • Akasha L. Van-Cartier
  • Pissy Mattress

Dance Workshop:

  • Madame Trio

As if that’s not enough, there’s even more to look forward to at JellyFest. Moslen adds, “We’re working with an amazing team of creative folks to transform the upstairs and downstairs of Spirit into ‘The Beach’ and ‘The Reef’. It’ll feel like a completely different venue. I can’t wait for people to see it. We’ll also have a queer vendor fair outside during the day, so come early!”

If you’ve never been to a Jellyfish event, you may be wondering what all the hype is about. Well, I’ll let frequent attendee and JellyFest drag entertainer Pissy Mattress describe the experience for you.

“It is a privilege to be immersed in what Ricky and Steph have built and the way that folks–myself included– feel involved. It can be hard to capture lightning in a bottle, but somehow they have taken those special moments from those early crammed nights and stretched them into an eternity of regenerative body gyration. Jellyfish’s well-curated sexiness was something Pittsburgh was quite low on at the time of its origin – a true love letter to the ‘happenings’ and ‘art raves’ of the past. Our spaces and entertainment are something people of different identities and gender expressions need in order to feel honored in this political climate. The culture of Jellyfish achieves that. There’s a reason why they are the Wikipedia poster children for bisexual lighting.”

There’s no reward without risk. The creators of Jellyfish took a big risk by throwing their first party in 2017. Ricky and Steph took the risk simply because they thought they could. Their subsequent success and Pissy Mattress’ glowing testimony are proof that the risk paid off. Now, JellyFest is an even bigger risk but it seems that the reward will be ours for the taking! So be sure to get your ticket, put together a look or two, and come revel in your share of that reward! Let’s dance!

Tickets for JellyFest, July 21 and 22 at Trace Brewing, Cobra, and Spirit, are available here.

Jason Shavers is a born and raised Pittsburgh native. He is an actor that has worked extensively on stage and not so extensively on screen. Jason is also a self proclaimed expert on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Musical Theater and sitcoms that feature 4 women leads. Yeah, he’s gay AF. Follow him on Instagram. (He / Him / His)