Dan De Leon
Written by noiZe Staff
It was the last Ice party at iBar in West Hollywood. April 10th, 2004. Dan De Leon was spinning and Alex Catala was in attendance. The paths of two disillusioned but unjaded Circuit alums crossed. The union not only brightened up the lives of two individuals, but that of the entire West Coast house community.
Dan De Leon tasted success in showbiz at the young age of seventeen. As a student at Culver City High School’s Academy of Visual and Performing Arts in California, he was a producer of the all-teen- produced independent feature film Common Bonds. The film went on to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997 and was hailed as a “monumental achievement (and) an inspiration to young filmmakers everywhere.” It was around that time that he dropped out of college. “I was totally certain that I was going to be Steven Spielberg in fifteen months.” That’s not exactly what happened, but soon after that he did go on to write, produce, and direct a short film called Anything Once. Only twenty-three minutes long, the film was about a straight guy and his gay best friend and their sexual explorations. It premiered at 1998’s Outfest, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and went on to enjoy success at twenty-two festivals in eleven different countries.
As a young adult Dan was immersed in the predominantly straight West Coast rave culture. In the midst of dealing with issues of self-identity and sexuality, he started working on a new film that was going to revolve around the world of clubs and DJs - as he describes it, “the nexus of the entire scene: the soul of partying.” In a sad twist to this story, a close DJ friend who had been his advisor on the film was brutally murdered.
He explained it like this to the New York-based online magazine Edge this past summer: “The extraordinary events became the impetus for me to turn away from my career in film and focus my concentration on becoming a commercial DJ. I feel it is the reason I have been so blessed in my success as a DJ. I have an angel watching over me.”
Deciding it was something he needed to experience for himself, he thrust himself into being a DJ. He saw an opportunity to fill a gap he saw in the gay Circuit scene, particularly in Los Angeles. Although he had been spinning records at home for friends after big parties, he dove right into playing gay clubs with his first residency: the Ice tea dances at iBar in Hollywood. The party kicked off Halloween of 2003 and was a huge success. “All of the sudden I was doing a tea dance every other Sunday. It was something I had dreamed of.”
He took on the name Dan De Leon professionally. He had always been Dan Aeberhard, but “it was Swiss German: it didn’t say anything about who I was,” he explains. Born in Argentina, Dan is full-blooded Latino. “I wanted people to know I had this Latin thing in me. I’m not just some German guy. I really do feel this in my blood.” His mom’s uncle’s family name is De Leon, and he felt especially drawn to it since it nods at his zodiac sign, Leo “Plus, I thought it was a sexy name, a name that I could brand.”
He certainly has started to accomplish that. Along with spinning some of LA’s hottest celebrity parties for the likes of MTV, Out Magazine, and Michael Kors, just to name a few, his latin flavored progressive house sets have taken him to headline Circuit events across the country, including Cherry in D.C., Palm Springs White Party, and Winter Party in Miami.