AT THE DINER WITH:
We caught up with the queer Asian DJ collective at Manhattan’s Golden Diner
to talk about Pride and the latest playlists they’ve created for us.
Named for the popular Taiwanese drink, BUBBLE_T is a collective of queer Asians who host pop-up dance parties in Brooklyn. At their gigs, you can hear everything from Cantopop and karaoke hits to 90s R&B. The five founders — Stevie Huynh, Nicholas Andersen, Paul Tran, Pedro Vidallon and Karlo Bueno Bello (who also goes by the stage name, Bichon) — all hail from different parts of the U.S., but are based in New York City.
They held their first party in Bushwick, Brooklyn in 2017, and it was an irresistible fusion of art, fashion and performance (picture a raucous DJ set-meets-house party-meets-drag show). Since then, they have created a nightlife space where QTBIPOCs can connect with and support one another across identities and diasporas. Don’t miss their Pride event coming up on June 17th at Elsewhere BK.
We caught up with Stevie, Nicholas and Pedro at Golden Diner, a restaurant that sits in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge and serves classic diner fare reimagined through an Asian lens. Over cold brew, katsu clubs and Korean fried chicken, we got their take on the perfect playlists and dance floor dress codes ahead of summer party season.
TS: So, how did this all get started?
BUBBLE_T started as a place to check in [with each other] — we were all so disappointed after the 2016 election, and we wanted to have a place where we could see friends and play music we wanted to hear.
What did you do professionally before this? Is BUBBLE_T kind of a side hustle-meets-supergroup?
Stevie is a makeup artist, Nick is the co-founder of CONFETTISYSTEM, Paul is a fashion and jewelry designer, Karlo works in interior design and textiles, and Pedro is a fashion designer and DJ.
What do you hope BUBBLE_T does for people, or makes them feel, or causes them to think about?
We want to provide a place of joy, where no explanation is needed.
We gotta know: what was your favorite party song growing up?
Stevie H: Jocelyn Enriquez’s Do You Miss Me
Paul T: Missy Elliot’s Work It
Nicholas A: Dee-lite’s Groove Is in the Heart
Can you tell us about the playlists you've created for Todd Snyder?
Pedro V: They were informed by a desire to evoke nostalgia for our shared experiences living in NYC over the years.
Karlo B: We also aimed to introduce artists from both the diaspora and Asia who may be unfamiliar to us and others.
It's Pride month...what does it mean to you, and how has that evolved over the years?
PT: Pride always marked a time of the year to reflect and assess my own process and progress in my coming out story; so in my younger days, it was something I was apprehensive about flaunting…and now I’m so proud of the LGBTQIA+ community and all we can celebrate together.
“Pride always marked a time of the year to reflect and assess my own process and progress in my coming out story.”
What's one perfect memory you have of a past Pride?
PT: Finally finding a community with BUBBLE_T and defining Pride for ourselves, while knowing the history and struggles that came before us; 2019 was an especially memorable one for me.
SH: [The songs of] Anita Mui [the Queen of Hong Kong pop music] being performed by drag performer The Illustrious Pearl for our Lunar event “RAT_ROYAL_T” was a special one for me.
How would you describe your personal style?
PT: Classic and edgy, traditional and queer…some kind of contradiction.
SH: Gay Chinatown skater dad.
Last but not least, we gotta know: What's your go-to bubble tea order?
SH: Jasmine honey tea with boba and grass jelly.
PT: Oolong milk tea, 25% ice, boba, coffee jelly, 10% sweet.
NA: Milk tea, wheat grass, jelly, no sugar.
Photographed by Poupay Jutharat
Interviewed by Kate Andersen