Like seafood and Spiritius, DJ Maryalice is an absolute Provincetown institution. Her Afternoon Tea Dances at the Boatslip on Commercial Street are absolutely legendary, and spending some time on her dance floor is absolutely crucial each and every time you visit this stunning, unique, and oh so LGBT Cape Cod community. While Provincetown has changed as the years go by, the LGBT community continues to be the backbone of the town, with new shops, bars & restaurants appearing up and down Commercial Street and beyond. Maryalice’s music remains one of the soundtracks to the town, and her recent Bear Week Tea Dance events were some of the biggest and brawniest that the town has seen yet. I caught up with Maryalice to talk about her beginnings in P-Town, what truly makes her dance floor so magical, and gives me the real story on how the notorious “After Tea” in Provincetown really started!
Michael Cook: Right off the bat Maryalice, how did you get into the world of DJ’ing?
DJ Maryalice: I came of age in the 70’s. I loved disco and going to nightclubs; I knew absolutely every song! I came to Provincetown in 1980 after graduating from college and I waitressed at the Governor Bradford restaurant right in P-Town. One night the DJ didn’t show up and I told the owner that I could do it. I couldn’t mix yet, but they definitely danced all night! I played a couple more times after that and I was hooked. I figured out that to make the records go together, I needed to count the beats per minute. The next season I asked the owner if I could be the DJ and he said sure! It was off to the races after that…
MC: For those that have never heard your sound, how would you describe it?
DJM: People tell me that my sound is is joyful and uplifting!
MC: It’s hard to climb the ladder and become one of the premier DJ’s in Provincetown today; what do you think the secret is to your success?
DJM: You know, I think it’s the same as it is everywhere in every type of job. I knew what I wanted and I worked for it; the rest was simply luck. It’s about right place, right time.
MC: What have been some of your career highlights thus far?
DJM: I have been playing for almost forty years now. There are simply too many to count and at the end of the day, I am exactly where I want to be.
MC: Your tea dances at The Boatslip are the premier event in Provincetown and no matter who is in town, always are packed. How did they start?
DJM: Let’s see; the lore has it that Tea Dance at the Boatslip in Provincetown actually started in the very early seventies. A guy that worked there decided to bring his record player to the pool and just play music. The rest is simply history.
MC: What have been some of your favorite Tea Dance moments throughout your career? What do you think makes the perfect tea dance?
DJM: Oh geez, it’s definitely kind of a blur (laughs)! I think that is a question for the folks that come to my tea dances actually. And speaking of the crowd that comes, they are definitely what makes Tea Dance special. They create an energy that is nothing short of remarkable; I just try to keep up!
MC: Provincetown has changed throughout the years as the culture has changed, including Pied Bar now morphing into Lea DeLaria’s The Club, which is where “after tea” was always held. How has Provincetown changed for you? What is the best part of being there during the summer?
DJM: So fun fact: I actually started “After Tea” in the eighties. In truth, it was actually Marty Kane’s audition that really sparked that flame. He came to try out for a night at the Pied one afternoon and brought some friends along. It was truly an “a-ha moment”. The owners at that time were very quick to see the appeal and we launched it. As for the town, Provincetown really hasn’t changed for me. We’ve grown along together. The view from my office is pretty damn good.
MC: What’s next for DJ Maryalice?
DJM: To just keep keeping on! Like I said before, I’ve been there and done that. It’s been a long career. I am truly happy to be exactly where I am. And based on the last twenty years at the Boatslip, I would have to say that the universe definitely agrees.
MC: What gives you pride?
DJM: I guess that I have made a lot of people happy and helped create memories that they will carry with them forever.
(Art courtesy of DJ Maryalice-Facebook)
(Video courtesy of Michael Herrera)