know him as my gentle giant; you know him as one of the most sought-after dancers in nightlife. Don’t judge this book by its cover. Discover a little bit more about Vinny Vega in my interview below.
How long have you been dancing?
I started during the end of my second year of college at FIT. I needed a job to make money while I was in school, and I began dancing at G-Lounge here in the city during 2009, and shortly thereafter I started dancing at Splash (RIP). For the most part I was just at those two places before branching out to other events and venues. I actually didn’t dance outside of NYC or work the circuit events until 2013. It’s been pretty amazing ever since then.
Is there a favorite party or memory you have of dancing all those years?
That’s such a hard question to answer. There have been so many great events and moments. I have to say the last two years I have been offered some amazing opportunities, and I couldn’t be more grateful or surprised how things have turned out. Traveling to work events like Purple Party in Dallas, White Party in Palm Springs and Miami, Matinee Las Vegas, Cherry Party in D.C., Neverland in Chicago. I’ve danced for some of the best events in the circuit and in nightlife, and if I had to choose a favorite aspect of it, I would have to say it’s the friendships I’ve made. Fellow dancers, DJs and partygoers that I have formed close bonds with make working these events extra special. Moments with those that have come to mean so much to me are definitely one of my favorite things about my place as a go-go.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you while dancing?
Oh, jeez. Well, let me just say this. I’m a self-admitted goofball and a bit of a klutz. I’ve never slipped off a go-go box—knock on wood—but there have been a few moments. Once, while working an event in LA, a small rip that I didn’t notice in my crotch kept ripping as I danced more and more, and there was almost a very noticeable wardrobe malfunction. Luckily, I noticed before anyone else really did. At least, I hope so!
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you or go-go dancers in general?
I’d have to say, I think people attend events at nightclubs and see people like myself on stage or on a box dancing under the club lights and think we’re vapid or one-dimensional. That couldn’t be further from the truth. For me, there are many layers. I attended FIT here in the city and have my BFA in photography and the digital image. I’m currently saving for equipment so I can further get my career as a fashion and beauty photographer off the ground. As a teenager I sang in select choirs, and music has always been something I’ve wanted to explore again. I’m very close with my mom. We have a very frank and open relationship. There’s a lot I could continue to say that people might not know about me, but I’d say that’s true of all the go-gos I know. Some of the most talented and vibrant individuals I’ve ever met have been people I met as fellow dancers. I think a lot of people would be genuinely surprised.
You’ve won many awards and have been steadily successful in nightlife. What do you think the secret of your success is?
You know, this year for the GLAMs I was actually running a fever, and I missed the award show. I didn’t think I’d win twice! I can’t even tell you how much it means to me to be nominated and then even win. There are so many great people who are so deserving. When I started dancing in nightlife, I had no clue what I was doing. I was super shy and anxious, and scared to even talk to people. Along the way I opened up, spoke up, took chances. It was all a matter of being good in my own skin and just being myself. I’ve come to love dancing and have done things I’ve never thought I’d do, but I honestly think it’s come down to just being a good person. I try to always treat everyone I meet with kindness and understanding. I try to live by many different important points, and something I read a long time ago really resonated with me and has been a rule of thumb in meeting the many people I’ve come to know in nightlife: Those who judge will never understand, and those who understand will never judge. Treat those around you right, and it will always lead you down a good path. So many people in the industry that I’ve met take notice of that. I think that really makes a difference. And always bringing your all and good energy when you’re performing. I try to always put my all into what I do.
What people may not know about you is that you are actually a professional photographer as well. Can we look forward to seeing you behind the lens again anytime soon?
Well, that’s been a long road for me, to be honest. Photography is a difficult field to get established in, from the connections you need to the cost of equipment. It isn’t easy. But, it’s a passion of mine and something I think that comes naturally to me. I’ve always been an artist. Whether it was music, writing, getting behind the lens of a camera, I love to create. I shot the advertising campaign for the Pines Party 2015: Emerald City, and that opened a lot of people up to what I can do as a photographer. I think in 2016, you’ll be seeing a lot more of that, in many ways. Stay tuned! I’m working towards bigger and better things all the time.
What’s your favorite body part on other men?
Oh man, that’s tough! I love lips, because I’m big on kissing. I love a guy with big arms, chest, legs. I’ve always been big on guys that are on the beefy side. I don’t know why, but that catches my eye. If I was forced to choose, it would be hard. I’ll put it into two categories: My romantic side is a sucker for beautiful eyes. But, the sexual side of me is very much an ass man!
There have been a lot of changes recently in nightlife. What do you foresee happening in the next year?
I can only hope for the best. The thing that breaks my heart, in all honesty, has been the closing of amazing venues that I once loved. Westway was home to Westgay, and that was one of my favorite weekly events to dance for. Saying goodbye to that place was very sad for me, and many of us. Roseland was home to some of my fondest memories, and seeing that get torn down was very hard. I hope in 2016 we’ll see less things ending and more promising beginnings. Some new events are emerging now, and I hope it’s the start of a new and exciting time in nightlife!
What’s the worst piece of gossip you’ve ever heard about yourself?
I haven’t heard too many bad things about myself. Like anyone, I’ve had people say nasty or mean-spirited things. I try my best to not feed into it. Admittedly I’m the sensitive type, and I’ve had to work at building a thicker emotional skin. That didn’t come naturally to me. But I think when I heard someone call me fake or phony, and in a very nasty and judgmental way too, that hurt a lot. I defend my friends when they are gossiped about. I think cattiness is the single worst part of nightlife. C*nty isn’t cute, but that’s just my opinion. People will mistake your kindness for weakness, say you’re fake when you’re simply being nice. When that happens, you just have to keep being you and not become disheartened or jaded. It’s best to just let words be words and rise above.
Can you tell me (without naming names) the worst gig you’ve ever done?
I don’t know if I’d want to really say that, but there have been gigs when the entertainment, go-gos included obviously, are treated terribly or disrespected. I’ve unfortunately been in that position more than once, and no matter how great the music or beautiful the venue, when those in charge of you treat you as though you have little to no value, that really kills the experience. Of course I would never name any names in this case, but I hope people realize when they treat the people working for them badly, it reflects on the whole event. I’ve been fortunate enough to be friendly or even friends outside the scene with some of the people I dance for, and having that good energy backstage really translates when you get out in the party and serve your best to the crowd.
On a scale of one to 10, how much do you love me?
Scotty, since I met you, you’ve been consistently kind and thoughtful. That’s #1 in my book. Very thankful to count you as a friend and to have worked with and for you. What else can I say?
It’s no secret you have an amazing physique. What’s a great workout tip you can share with everyone?
I’m always steadily increasing my weight. You don’t wanna push yourself further than your body allows, but for me, keeping on weight was a struggle. I was stick thin as a kid, so eating steadily and working out at least four days a week is vital for me. Actually, I’m hoping to increase my gains a lot this year, so hopefully there is a bigger and better me yet to come. Always working towards new goals.
What’s the shadiest thing that’s ever happened to you during a gig?
Another hard question to answer. I’ve had people pull some really surprisingly bad things, but pinpointing it is hard. I try not to focus on the shady; I’m always trying to look for the light in any situation. That sounds very sappy, but actually that was something I had to also work at, seeing the brighter side of things. At this stage in my life, if something shady happens around me, I try to wash my hands of the situation if I can, or deal with it with as much patience as I can. But, like I said, being shady is the worst thing in nightlife. I hope that happens less and less. Looking forward to an amazing new year in New York nightlife!