If you’ve been to Soft Leather at any point over the past two years, you know the monthly party is a place to see and be seen. It’s the kind of event for which loyal attendees plan far in advance, making sure their larger-than-life outfits will stand out in a crowd and look flawless in front of the camera. And thanks to its glamorous hosts and talented DJs, Soft Leather has run without a hitch for the last 24 months, giving underground house enthusiasts, queer folks and fashion-forward influencers a space to be their unabashed selves.
One of those key players is Ashelynne Cyrena Morales, a host-turned-DJ who’s all about making the party as fun and inclusive as possible. Part of the Vegas Soft Leather crew from the beginning, Morales—best known by her DJ name A.C. Esme—has made it her mission to spread the event’s positive ethos to anyone and everyone. “It’s something people will really look forward to all month,” Morales says. “We invite people to come as they are. We’re really open—you want to try something new, show a little bit of skin? Our slogan is dress to sweat, and that really shows on the dancefloor.”
Morales has known how to DJ since high school, but it wasn’t until last year that she dove back into the dance world. Now she’s a regular DJ and tastemaker, curating the house, techno and disco sounds for which Soft Leather has become known, names like Louisahhh and Brodinski and labels like Hot Haus, Turbo and Toy Tonics.
“I appreciate the opportunity to be around so many talented people. We all have our different strengths,” Morales says. It’s something she’s quick to reiterate: Soft Leather isn’t successful because of one person or even a select few; it’s a collective with a conscious hive mind built around support.
“It’s really just about connecting people,” Morales says. “We celebrate that vulnerability, and you can really see it in the air with how open and free people are.”
For Soft Leather’s September 27 anniversary party at Oddfellows, the collective is bringing in vogue and ballroom DJ MikeQ to celebrate two years of “culture, community, visceral indulgence” and “uninhibited self-expression.” If you aren’t already familiar, the New Jersey DJ is the name behind the Qween Beat record label and New York’s monthly House of Vogue party—it’s only fitting he’d be the one headlining Soft Leather’s birthday bash.
But Morales sums it up best: “We love the queer-dos; we love the misfits. Soft Leather is for everybody. It’s about trying to find new ways to express yourself.”
Soft Leather Two-Year Anniversary September 27, 9:30 p.m., $6-$10. Oddfellows, 702-834-3377.