Posts Tagged ‘DJC’
TIRED A$$ THIRTY-SUMETHIN’ YEAR OLDS AT A RAVE?!?
“Oh boy, here we go again… We’ve just listened to a sales pitch on why we should buy drugs,” commented a thirty-something years old giddy graphic designer wearing an ankle brace and dancing in a corporate logo branded chair. “C’mon. Like… really?”
By this time, Molly and her gang had long arrived at the party. Hell, Molly was on the minds and on the tongues of the many drug-induced patrons long before the party, uh-hmm, rave had started. She and her teeny bopper friends stood everywhere, outdoors in the packed parking lot adjacent potheads hacking lungs to the indoor public restroom urinals sucking on hard candy.
Molly, the nouveau designer heroin chick, had shed her former shell “Tina,” and left it behind stranded in some sadist’s medicine cabinet in a glow stick illuminated hellhole. The new “It” girl with spiked pink hair and dyed midnight roots cropped to the outer edges on both sides of the head, wore a leather pink bustier, soft to the touch pink lace panties and pink furry boots, all in stark contrast to the communicable candy jewelry draped around her hands and tatted neck. And to think the candy ravers had retreated into the caves. She worked two elongated arms that ended with ten acute neon pink fingernails slashing through the air. She wore a frozen visage, but with soft and inviting facial features. A silver chain linked her nose ring to the hole in her left earlobe. This spectacle resembled more cyber-punkish than cyber-raverish. Oh well, so much for the stereotypes.
Outdoors, at midnight, standing in 98 degree heat, a 4Deep family reunion of cast and characters, who by the way, were all over the age of thirty gathered outside a club to enter a party. In line, some random droopy-eyed ephebe rambled surfeits to the sober minded. Indoors, Scott Wozniak’s “Breathe” (Instrumental) reverberated off the walls of the club, while outdoors a line wrapped around the building, with ravers waiting for twenty or more minutes behind a velvet rope just to enter the mind-altering premises.
Once inside the aphotic apocalyptic Neverland, a feverish buzz of activity blew from ever angle, every corner and every view of the room. Like a playground filled with pseudo-adult kids screaming atop lungs and playing on various swing sets, monkey bars, and curvy slides. The aroma of flesh saturated with addicting substances tickled the nose hairs. Three separate spaces, the bar, the main room, and a patio boldly captured three distinct yet unified sounds. The bar area churned out soul-hacked jackin’ house and EDM gems. Next door, in the main room, funky house danced in the arms of electro that consummated the hazy-oxidized environment. While outdoors drenched in Mother Nature’s perspiration drum & bass, jungle and tribal sounds kicked out atmospheric buzzes. The capacious club contained the correct amount of dance space. However, please be aware of the dizzying strobe light display spinning nearby. Someone could sustain massive injuries by those twirling glow sticks the size of massive dildos. The translucent plastic tubes were everywhere; from the wide-eyed girl selling merchandise at one of the many vending tables in the global bazaar to the lad decked in a chemiluminescence glow from head to toe. The single-use objects came in all colors, shapes and sizes, much like condoms atop a panoply display of heads. WATCH OUT!?! This could either get dangerous or interesting.
“This is not my kind of scene,” observed one house head-a mother of two teenagers. This place equaled Paris’ Can Can, an underground circus minus the singing. An inveterate of motleys; misfits, outcasts, deviants and clones paraded around in linear fashion.
Speaking of fashion -which recalled to mind a bad trip down memory lane, to the local shopping mall to visit one of those “toxic” chain stores where facial piercings and body tats are du jour, and guitars scream from overhead speakers delivering a nauseating thump-several miscues misstepped boundaries . Fashion no-no number one, the crack. Natch, crack came with the territory from a lad swinging glow sticks with baggy pants falling low waistline to girls sporting hip hugging dental floss and not much else. Fashion no-no number two arrived straight from the catwalks of Paris. (Not) Shirtless white boys. Bare chests that have yet to graduate puberty danced in celebration. The trend stolen straight (oops gaily) from the pages of boy-on-boy clubs proved all too distracting. Were these kids hetero, homo, bi or try (curious)? Anyhoo, bird-chest boys, pranced around with curvy-chest girls in fluorescent body paint of designs that ranged from the Mehndi to sloppy. These “happy chains” resembled bad hallucinations of the cult Teletubbies rainbow characters. The third fashion no-no, the cat suit. Please, don’t come dressed as a black cat wearing a black pleather spandex top and matching shorts equipped with a black animal tail, lace leggings and boots on the hottest night of the year. Yes, that goes out to the guy wearing glasses over black cat ears and twirling the glow sticks. Adroit? Yes. Intelligent? No. The fourth fashion no-no, the puerile backpack. Is that Mario from Super Mario Brothers fame strapped to the back of some guy? Wait another minute. Is that the crazy cat from “Alice In Wonderland” with the sharper than a two-edged sword teeth strapped to the back of another guy?
There are so many blacks (males) here,” marveled the thirty-something graphic designer with googly-eyes. “Who would’ve ever thought?”
Guess one shirtless black guy with sculpted pecs thought so because within ten minutes he would grab the “I’m old enough to be your older sister” graphic designer for a “bump and grind” session. Two things are for sure these youngins’ like them older and successful.
Not only were there a significant portion of hip-hoppers turned ravers but a lively mix of Latinos (Mexicans) sprinkled with a dash of Asians. After all, the club sat on Buford Highway the city’s hybrid of cultural explosion. Too bad the youth had no idea what they were listening to.
“It’s the alternative to their house music,” beamed the graphic artist. “They have no clue what this is.” She was correct. The playlist paid no relevance to today’s household famous electronica names; David Guetta, Deadmau5, Skrillex or the Ultra Records Kaskade but to inspiring Chicago house artists. Not that the crowd was unreceptive or unresponsive. The freaked-out youth danced, jumped up and down and head-banged to their parent’s-the first and second generation wave of U.S. ravers -electronic grooves.
“Bro, I should have known by the amount of DJ names listed on the flyer this was a rave,” snickered a thirty-something years old chef who always carries around his security blanket-a bottled beer.
The party consisted of a who’s who in Bro-House. 4Deep veterans DJC and Knoxville, TN’s Kevin Nowell tagging and playing the newly appointed British ambassador of soul, Adele’s “Set Fire To The Rain” to the blue-eyed soul maestro Grant Nelson, alongside Earthtone Soundsystem vets musical fillings in the bar area. The Teamsters Reunion with Nashville’s, DJ Sammie, Georgetown, KY’s, Trevor Lamont and former Chicagoan/California transplant Halo Varga tagging in the main room but it was the solo music set from DJ Lego that brought that sweet symphonic North Side Chicago Jackin’ House sound to the playground.
Windy City’s DJ Lego drugged the hyper-active kids with aggressive beats meets psychedelic melodies. Lego hit a home run, knocked the ball out of the park and kept the hits in the family by playing signature crafted tunes from his hometown base. A dubbie version from former Chicagoan Honey Dijon featuring sliced vocals by resident Chicagoan Dajae titled “Until The Day,” played to a fussy shock. As the beats banged faster the crowd danced harder proving the youngsters like it hard and rough.
Onstage, half- baked and half-dressed girls danced off-count (and not because they were intoxicated) while one sprayed glitter from the platform that would take a week or so to rinse out of curly locs. A fog machine spewed its venom on the victims below on the crowded dance floor. As if the glow sticks weren’t enough the young girls pulled out sparklers and lit the fireworks onstage to the sound of cheers. Was this a fire code violation?
The stroke of 2:30 signaled the time for one tired a$$ thirty-something years old’s departure. Outdoors, one of the county’s finest dressed in blue, sat on a steel beam at the egress. It was one of those nights where the law enforcement turned their protective eye to certain illegal ongoings. Into the thick blanket of heat on the hottest night of the year, the sweating thirty-something years old chef remarked, “It’s time to go home. I can only take so much.”
After all, age ain’t nuthin’ but a number. Right?
Photography by Atlas Clothing
Outdoors in the cold night’s air, the crisp breathe of old man winter kissed the dark sky decorated with twinkling stars. On the corner of 13th and Peachtree Walk sat a cozy little nook-the lounge that resembled the gingerbread house from fabled fairytales of old. From its chimney smoke piped into the cool clear air while four count beats marched outdoors onto the empty city streets.
Inside the heated nook equipped with a fireplace tucked neatly off to the side, its interior screamed, “Happy Holidays!” A lighted Christmas tree sat in a corner of the foyer as holey snaked its way around shelves and techno colored snowflakes danced on a wall right above the bar. But the establishment’s best display lied right through the club’s backdoor; a well lit, spacious and heated patio with surround sound that entertained several tables, several chairs and one cocktail bar. For all you conversation-ist, smoke-puffers and standing models this was the place to be and see. Once the fresh oxygen of the impressive patio was inhaled, several employees in black “staff” shirts gearing up for the night’s activities were followed back indoors into the lounge area. In plain view sat a handful of guests on bar stools at the empty bar while two patrons graced the tables inside the club. One empty roped-off VIP table way too small for more than two guests sat lonely in a dead end corner adjacent the bar. From time to time a few stragglers struggled into the lounge, conversing on smart phones while ordering drinks far too busy to notice the serene surroundings. Of course, this was due to change as the night progressed. For the night was young; still in its birth of infancy for the massive crowd that would later form and soak the room’s funk filled energy from none other; DJ Mark Farina.
Up above in the space-challenged DJ booth, situated approximately six feet off the ground, the night’s first party-starter, DJ Sublime A.K.A. Jory Johnson wasted no time warming up the musical 1’s and 2’s. Sublime played a brilliant spectrum of mind bending genres from soulful house to 1980’s soul with beats per minute slowed down to a safe groove. One stand out, Kerri Chandler’s featuring Treasa “Diva” Fennie’s, “Heal My Heart” shined brightly on a dark night. With lyrics, “Heal My Heart/Ease My Pain/Give Me The Strength/To Love Again” the song’s message of healing hope to love again was much needed.
Soon, Atlanta’s Lil Steven hopped on board and bought a bangin’ dub of Moloko’s 1999 classic, “Sing It Back” that brought the ever growing crowd to its feet. Cheers!
Next up, 4Deep’s DJC went hard with heavy beats from the likes of a swinging dub of Joey Negro’s featuring Shea Soul’s, “No Sugar.” “Don’t Get Me Mad/You’ll Get No Sugar” soared through the ears of the crowd. With in your face lyrics that tell the truth the crowd should take caution of their actions.
Finally, the night’s headliner arrived. Short in stature but sweet in spirit, west coast house music pioneer, mid-west born and bred, Mark Farina autographed posters and vinyl sleeves and posed for pictures with various subjects all the while maintaining an amiable smile. This is what house music is all about having the down-to-earth heart of sharing your gifts (music) and talent (mixing skills) with the world and the ones you love.
Photography by Lil Steven. Used by permission.
ALL GREAT THINGS COME TO AN END
“He keeps on blessing me/Blessing Me”
These were the lyrics to the party’s opener played by Lars Behrenroth at Connect’s final party. Connect a monthly party held every first Thursday night that for six years had been instrumental in bringing house music back to the city’s forefront during the nitelife’s, “drought years.” Maybe not so much as bringing house music back as it did to keep house music alive during those “drought years.” Had it not been for Connect, the fervent sounds of deep/jackin’/house music would have indefinitely died for it were these parties that kept the torch burning bright for dance enthusiast. Unfortunately, all great things must come to an end.
Six years earlier Connect started out as a small monthly bringing funky house DJs from around the country mainly the mid-west and southeast states to play at its parties. The barely 25 years of age founders, Mike Zarin and DJC were known as the underdogs in the underground house music scene. Many local house music elders questioned their motives as to why the two would start house music parties during the city’s anti-nitelife stance and a hard hitting house music recession. However, over the years these critics were silenced as Connect’s parties thrived. During this time Connect tried to find its signature music sound mainly focusing on the Chicago/west coast jack sound of choppy beats and tech effects played over repeated samples. Interestingly, two years later Connect drowned in the deep waters of deep house music that became synonymous within the city. From there Connect transformed into a wreaking force, bringing in top-tier international talent and throwing amazing underground house parties. People flocked to the Thursday night monthlies in support to see their international favorites. Connect was ablaze until the great recession.
It was then when Connect had to scale back on out of town/international talent. The cost of airfare, lodging expenses and DJ fees became too much. So when the international talent left, the amazing parties stopped and with it went the crowd. Connect became a bygone-the party easily swept underneath the rug and easily forgotten. Its fate doomed.
One wouldn’t suspect this to be a closing party the way German bred/Los Angeles transplant Lars Behrenroth tore up the motherboards. His head rolled around in circles as he spun the mixer’s knobs to control the groove. His upper torso bounced up and down and rocked from side to side when he was really feeling the groove. At times between mixing songs his hands flew straight in the air as if he were at a futbol game cheering the winning team. This was the power of house music.
Lars sprinkled a few Connect favorites into the mix. There was Romanthony’s dubby, “Let Me Show You Love” that had yours truly singing along and the late 1990’s Chicago classic from Voices of Life, “The Word Is Love (Just Say The Word)” the Silk’s Anthem of Life Mix. Lars laid the afro-house vibe thickly on the crowd before transitioning back to house mode before closing out the momentous night. After a heartwarming goodbye from founder Mike Zarin, Lars took to the microphone to announce the last song, a jazzy house number about love and thanks. Then a female’s beautiful soprano voice resounded throughout the room. It was the voice of Denice Williams singing the R’n’B 80’s soul hit, “Free.” Yes, the time had come to say thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon Connect and to set Connect free.
Photography by Luis V fo DEG
Photography by John Crooms
The problem started in the line to get in the club but we’ll save that for a later time. Since Marques Wyatt exudes a spirit of positivity we shall focus on the positive attributes of the night at CLUB DRAMA.
The affable, Marques Wyatt, Los Angeles’ pioneer of the long running club night Deep, presence was not marked with pretentiousness but by grace and humility. Therefore, Marques allowed the music to speak volumes to draw the crowd’s attention to the dance floor. Actually the aforementioned happened with the first track played, a white label remix from a neo-soul diva crooning, “Crown Royal” over a Quentin Harris treatment. To get everyone on the dance floor, Marques followed with another sensually explicit rap tune from Mr. V, “Jus Dance” which brought out the freak in some dancing with legs in the air and booty gyrations typical of rap music videos. Next to follow, another Quentin Harris remix, this one from neo-soul new comer Lela James titled, “My Joy”. Unfortunately, the instrumental was chosen over the vocals to make room for the next song making this the night’s only musical disappointment. Other than that, Marques pulled out a heavy arsenal of tunes that tore up the spacious patio and damaged every dancer. Every uplifting vocal anthem played vibrated underneath the protective canopy that kept the house heads singing with praise. Several classic 90’s house jams danced along current 21st century chart toppers from Mousse T to Sophie Rubina. Additional notables included, Marques’ favorite, Radiohead, “Everything In Its Right Place” (Afefe Iku Remix), the current chart topping anthem Dennis Ferrer’s, “Hey Hey” (Black Coffee Remix) the song that made for perfect sexually suggestively dancing on the elevated platform in the middle of the dance floor with a fellow female dancer, a lively instrumental of Afefe Iku’s classic, “Mirror Dance” the Yoruba Soul Remix that caught everyone’s intention including those partying in VIP with its bass dropping tech thumps, last year’s sing-along anthem, “Into My Life (You Brought The Sunshine)” by Elements of Life featuring Lisa Fischer and Cindy Mizelle and of course, “Superman” by the DJ of the hour Black Coffee. What a highlight to hear the Yoruba Soul classic, Erro’s, “Change For Me” (Joey Negro Mix) that sent the patio into outer space. However, a remix courtesy from Chicago’s own Abicah Soul of “Careless Whisper” a 1980’s power ballad from a famous pop duo, sent the crowd through the roof. Unfortunately, it would be the final song to end the night against the steady sounds of rain falling from the sky.
Although, heavy rains fell outside, the weather was by no means a reflection of the night. What started out as questionable became an unforgettable night filled with uncompromised quality house music. The atmosphere couldn’t be ruined as Mr. Wyatt used the power of music to heal the scars of the disappointed and effuse joy, hope and love. Those that endured to the end needed no umbrellas because they were covered by the healing power of music, thanks to Marques Wyatt.
Photograph by Karin Smoot courtesy of Divas of House
Photography by John Crooms
Photography by 4Deep Archives
Photography by Luis V for DEG
Photography by Melba Searcy