Posts Tagged ‘Kai Alce’

HOUSE IN THE PARK 11 06.09.15

September 8, 2015


“HONK.” As sedans, pickups and 4X4’s slow to a crawl on I-20 eastbound at the ramp of Boulevard, the traffic on the World Wide Web stalls. Thankfully, no vehicles or servers, for that matter, crash. Finally!-And no not the CeCe Peniston classic-House In The Park Sunday arrives!

At a park, named after a U.S. president, on Confederate Avenue, thousands of feet stampede the green space. The festivity is less conservancy, more 4G. Posts and photos clog social media newsfeeds. Thirty-second videos go viral. Hit after hit. Likes accumulate. Tweets chirp. Memes abound. A song list is even cataloged on a blog. HITP 11 trends.

“After all house music is the black person’s alternative.” Replies the voice-activated “AI” when asked, “Is HITP the real Afropunk?” Uploads of Afro’s, locs, beads, and faux hawks be natural or extensions, crown heads of dancing kings and dancing queens, and their dancing princes and dancing princesses. Selfies of Tees, tunics, cowls and body paint are fit for fashion spreads. Just #blackfashionmatters.    

Dress and tags are only smaller numerators in HITP’s larger algorithm. There are four constant variables that play the most important part when coding the event’s success.

The Four Fathers. Salah Ananse, DJ Kemit, Kai Alce, and founding father Ramon Rawsoul stand tall and proud. Acetate. Polycarbonate. Gigabyte: Are their mouthpieces. Their voices eschewed from shiny hardware, transmitted by stereo surround-sound. Each bringing their distinct flavor, Salah: boutique house, Kemit: disco, Ramon: ancestral and Kai: every sound in between, makes PPL <3 HITP. 

Sunrays kiss smiley faces. Red, green, gold, and black jewels sparkle against the stark bulb in the sky. iClouds fly across the azure. The temperature feels not too hot, not too humid, and never too cold but just the right amount of cool. A fit-watch pixels display 85 degrees.

The balmy temperature is a shock, but not the music. As one girl whips and nae naes to a remix of Justin Timberlake singing “Holy Grail.” Everyone agrees House in The Park is the “Holy Grail.”

The Holy Grail that started ten years ago as an intimate gathering of friends, has massed into more than one large family picnic, but a technological boom. Far more than food trucks, the aroma of grilled meats, vendors, pavilions and tent city, there is no denying HITP’s digital footprint that stomps the digital world. Perhaps, next year, the drone that flies overhead will be used to film a virtual-reality live stream. In real-time, to all businesses, corporations and advertisers, HITP is where the money is.

words: aj dance

visual: toasted ink


September 6, 2015




“Yo! What up?”

“Deez Nuts 4 president!”


“Give me a huuugggg.”

Pearly white smiles sparkled underneath the halogens of streetlights. The heart leaped with joy during each warm embrace. Like hugging long lost relatives at a family reunion during Labor Day Weekend. Instead of ribs and slaw, long white tees, halters and pumps were the fixin’s.   A show of who’s who was in “lookatme” mode. Selfie time!!! Of course with friends. Conversations quickly turned to; weight loss, air flight trips and future hookups. The annual Atlanta Weekender festivities had already commenced outside, along Edgewood Boulevard, in front of addresses 485 and 483, respectively. The magic suspended in the air, straddled beneath the Waning Gibbous.

Following the pulsating “umpsh, umpsh, umpsh,” into the brick and mortar revealed no disco ball, or cat-n-mouse laser display that distinguished the obscurity. If not for the bar lit in the soft hue of carrot the room would be aphotic. Ahead, at the DJ booth the guiding light was found. The sonics eschewed from two JBLs. There he stood, the man partitioned from his gatherers.

The buzzcut he wore might have been new, but Kai Alce needed no introduction.  NYC born, Detroit raised, ATL transplant-an acronym for his N.D.ATL Muzik imprint-served as cultural virtues that crowned him “Atlanta’s Maverick of Distinctive House Music.” Although the DJ/producer/label owner resents titles and is laconic, he clearly spoke through the music. You “Can’t Hold It Back,” he suggested with a slight grin when playing the Jovonn titled track. The now-anthem ignited flames on the floor.   Blink and miss the horde of Distinctive-ites who canned-sausage the space in front of the DJ booth; hands on the floor, derrieres in the air, their feet swiveled in circles. That was the power of the four-count, a heavy bass line, and a repeated refrain.  

There she danced in the corner. Her dress sparkled as metallic blues shimmied against the speaker cabinet. Her beauty mirrored the portrait of the 1970’s Blaxploitation heroine projected onto the back wall of the room.   As her silhouette weaved in and out of shadows, she mouthed “Dance Like You’ve Been Here.” The DJ Beloved Remix of Miranda Nicole’s N.D.ATL Muzik’s recording debut played like a beacon to a siren’s prey.

The music skipped counts on UBQ Project’s “We Can Make It.” Visages appeared stunned?!? Folks, this was an all vinyl affair. Heedlessly, hunched against the wall and consuming prime real estate was a young man who pecked on not one but two smartphones. Stationed on the DJ wall, a drinking glass slid off and shattered jagged debris across the baby-powdered floor. Dancing up front, and center the DJ booth became unbearable. So dance space was traded back room for near the venue’s front door. Where the temperature felt cooler, the air breathable, and the cement floor fit to slide across.

At some point in time, when professional photographers dipped in and out of space-pockets trying to capture the perfect snapshot of a dancer doing a burpee in harem pants: time, place and space framed an apex. The music abstract yet concrete. The conductor inseparable from the conduit.  The curator indistinguishable from the virtuoso.   A casual encounter turned fanatical dance.



You can take Theo Parrish out of Chicago but taking Chicago out of Theo Parrish presents an entirely difficult challenge. Born in the nation’s capital, bred in the Windy City, the DJ/producer was influenced by Chi-town’s first and second generation house music provocateurs. His first DJ gig and production work came early, age thirteen. Thereafter, the young musicologist would study in Kansas City where he received a degree in Sound Sculpture before calling the Motor City his home since the mid 1990’s.

Chicago played theme on the Sound Signature C.E.O.’s opening selections. Peven Everett cooed “How Bad I Want Ya,” a sentiment Theo posed to the crowd before slaying the dancers with Steve Poindexter’s genius “Computer Madness.”

Say Parrish, and the name resounds around the world, synonymously with techno/house. Theo’s music is badass: never mollified for the masses yet ballsy enough to challenge the bullocks of the underground. His left field verbose is taste acquired. The palette of his international worshippers: his native land not so much. Those who understood Parrish’s quiddity were those left dancing: those who failed translation made there way outdoors for a smoke or next door.  


Inside the restaurant guised dance space the music played Afro, deep, and slower at 124 beats per minute. At DJ Kemit’s Soul Makossa party, bodies gyrated and writhed from the DJ Booth to dining stations in the back of the rectangular space. Yet, there was ample space to join in the spirit of dance.  A far cry from earlier when people stood in line to get in the door. Percussions elevated Elements of Life “Children of the World.” The beat crawled to 120 BPM on Hiatus Kaiyote’s “Breathing Underwater“(DJ Spinna Galactic Soul Remix). The thumps packed punch on Steve Silk Hurley featuring Sharon Pass’ “The Word Is Love” (Silk’s Anthem 7 inch Mix). The classic pulled the salt and pepper hairs onto the floor as the music danced down memory lane with vintage Col. Abrams’, “I’m Not Gonna Let.”

“YEAAAHHH!” The moms and pops yelled to the Shuffle It Up Mix. DJ/producer Alton Miller spoke to the age forty and over, Detroit style. “I’m so going back to check out Theo next door.” Said a thirty years young Jersey resident.


The snare hissed. The beating of congas beat faintly in the distance. The strings of an acoustic guitar plucked ever-so-gently across a romping bass line that straddled over four counts, then dropped as the rhythm crescendo into a melodious movement that guided dancing sneakers across the craters on the floor.

“THEO!” A high-pitched voice yelled. Arms besieged over the booth’s wall. Then the house lights shined brightly. Pupils were enlarged. A motley of colored visages that once danced in shadows was now exposed. No one cared. The people danced on. The music played on.

A bearded guy dressed in all black appeared next to Theo and gave him the cutthroat. Another security chief, this one with his facial gestures buried beneath a ball cap, bolted to the DJ booth and told the maestro to “stop.”

“I can’t.” Theo lipped back. “The record ain’t finished playin’.”

The crowd “booed” the burly guards: they “yayed” the DJ. Complying with security’s demand, the music stopped. As security walked away, the sneaky Theo pressed play. A four-count thumped. Security turned around and told him to cut the music. For a second time the music was hushed.

“Look. He mad (sic).”

With his back towards the dancers, Theo cursed underneath his breath. His hairy arms swung out, half-heartedly, to the sides in anger. The “I Want to Go See” type on his tee said it best. Theo was going to see, something, somewhere. Sadly it was out the venue’s front door.

The second night of the Atlanta Weekender closed with less of a bang and more of a swift-kick in the arse. If Atlanta is grown enough to host its own version of a holiday Weekender then Atlanta needs to step it up with a 4 am or later bar closing time. Atlanta, the time is nigh. Please, quit stopping the music.

words by aj dance

visual by aj art

CARL CRAIG 04.05.13

May 5, 2013



It is said, the body’s natural response to music is dancing.


      The first Saturday in May masquerades as the first Saturday in March.  Way too cold and way too wet.  Electronic Dance Music pathos suggests the month of May belongs to Detroit’s Movement Festival, still dubbed DEMF, as the month of March to the Winter Music Conference.  Detroit’s home-grown finest, techno music thumps from Midwest assembly lines down to the outhouses in the Dirty South.  One of Detroit Techno’s many distributors, DEMF’s original artistic director, touched down and schooled a certain southern hospitable metropolis-the city too busy partying to hate-on true techno music.     

The problem started with the rain.  No the real problem dated back to the original E-blast.  The boys of Project B announced their one year anniversary gig.  Following in the footsteps of their past soirees with Stacey Pullen and Kevin Saunderson, another Detroit Techno legend would grace the hardware at a trendy restaurant turned night club afterhours.  The problem?  The oblong-shaped, shoebox, restaurant keeps a limited crowd capacity.  Not the place for a living legend, who plays packed festivals and stadiums worldwide, to whip his techno wizardry.    Already buzzing ears were on alert to anticipate a few unwanted encounters.      


Enter Carl Craig.  The forty-something Detroit Techno ambassador appears rock star, looking relatively youthful.  He shows face wearing expensive solar shields and sporting an authentic black leather jacket.  Style shows the man comes to throw down. 

“Atlanta.  Can I take you on a journey of future sounds?”

“Yeah!”  The drunken debauchery responds. 

Perhaps the future of electronica rests in the hands of the narrative.  Its voice a symmetric hybrid of deep house intersects minimal techno.   The sound sphere plays excursion to preconceived notions of any expected playlist traded for the spontaneity of open-mindedness.    

Obviously, the shoebox is pack, too pack, with bodies slammed from wall to wall.  Forget about trying to meander through the density of mass.  Forget about busting your favorite dance move.  Forget about trying to consume the drink in your hand.  Forget about doing anything that falls outside the category of standing stiff and staring directly into the blond hair in your face while you are elbowed in the head, jabbed in the back, pushed to the side and your kicks stepped on. 

Over a deep treat Marvin Gaye sings “Ain’t That Peculiar.”  Yes.  How peculiar to show up at a dance party and have no room to dance. 

One or two printed Detroit garbs dot the room.  Some spectators appear to show-up only for the word, “techno.”   Most of the monochromatic crowd appears hell bent to fist pump than actually pop and lock.  Later, their wish is granted as the music builds into the atmosphere, disappears into gravity and then drops on their heads like barometric pressure.  Tomahawks appear. Sorry.  A Braves baseball game this is not.   However, the crowd loves it.  They respond, “Fuck Yeah” experiencing some peculiar eargasms. 

“That was the new Moodymann.” Carl shouts into the microphone after the third song plays.  Detroit Techno fans in the know respond with enthusiastic cheer. 

“The year 1995 just called the year 2013 and she wants her house music back,” says a giddy graphic designer wrapped in the arms of heavenly bliss. Her house music compass is only one year off.  A dub of Detroit’s Inner City & Kevin Saunderson’s “Share My Life” rams into action with classic chords thumping on all fours. 

“That’s got to be my favorite song.”  The Detroit giant pledges as the song fades into the next tack by Suburban Knights.


The Planet E imprint founder plays professor to the crowd of students.  “I’m playing the same music that I would play in Berlin.  Atlanta, that means I’m being inspired.”

Awww.  Sweet sentiments.  The crowd responds with approval.      

“Earlier, I played for you my favorite song.  Now I’m going to play for you the first song I ever played as a DJ.  It was at a family reunion in Athens.  Ha.” 

Again the crowd goes wild.

“If I lost you on the last song then I will lose you on this one.  Atlanta, can I go deep?”

The crowd goes apeshit. 

“Honestly, if it wasn’t for this song here, there would be no techno music.” 

The crowd goes silent.

“There would not be half of the hip hop songs you hear.”

A pin can be heard dropping to the floor.

“Certainly, I wouldn’t be hear.”

Utter silence.

Egyptian Lover’s “Egypt Egypt” the original electro/hip hop song plays. 

What the?  The crowd is completely lost in translation. Maybe 1980’s nostalgia is not their song and dance.  Sadly, they fail to realize…..     

“People have no manners.”  A local DJ notes.  Somewhere within the hour the drunks grow ever obnoxious.  Too many drunks in a tiny confide guarantees disturbance of peace.  The scene grows bedlam.  Someone gets punched in the face.  And someone is banned from the venue.  Across the room a father dances with his twenty-six years of age daughter.  “She’s a DJ,” the buzzed dad brags.  “And she’s pretty good.”   The daughter’s drunken boyfriend sadly stares in disbelief and tries to make since out of this mess.  By the event’s end the daughter’s father ditches her and the boyfriend for the bar as she whips out and spins glow sticks. 

“The vibe is different tonight.”  The local DJ notes.  “Till next time. Peace out.”

Bombastic blasts accompanying sonic sounds bumps and bruises the room. 

“Turn around,” commands the giddy graphic designer wiping tears from her eyes.  “He played Strings of Life!!!” 


The tiny room is still pack with flesh.  Sweat and sex play in the air.  The DJ’s wife offers a round of drinks to dancers.  There is an extra inch of dance space as the true dancers gobble it up like the hot commodity it is.  Once again, deep house plays host before the night’s explosive Detroit Techno anthem, UR’s “Hi Tech Jazz” will send a person to the podiatrist with a plantar fasciitis.  OUCH!!!  That’s the power of house music.  It can hurt you.

“Where’s the techno?” yells an out-of-towner.  This too is the power of Detroit Techno, its sound is not boxed.

Carl Craig’s forward march into futurism proved a promising focal point.  Even greater, his educating the audience was priceless.  The chaos juxtaposed against the sound track deemed all too nauseous.  Next go round, should the music shine solo in the spotlight with greater emphasis on dance space is a must for positive impact.  After all, the event’s dilemma left no doubt as to the choice of music or genres played as the question posed, “What happens when you experience inspiring music that the body is unable to respond to?”

Words and Photography by AJ Dance

HUMBLE DJs 03.03.13

March 12, 2013

Pullman Soul Presents Humble Legends Kai Alce, DJ Kemit & Ron Pullaman


The Holy Trinity of The Atlanta House Scene!  The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit!-Everybody’s Favorite Photographer


“I drove into the parking lot. 

I saw a neon church sign above the door.

I think.  Oh, they changed the name of the club to the church just for tonight. 

After all, people posted, “amen“ and “hallelujahs” online. 

So I walked up to the church door.

I read Jesus saves.

Oops.  Wrong place.

C’mon.  What church has a neon sign?”

-Sister Pickens


“We raise our hands in the sanctuary.”  Not.  Where’s the music?  A chill greets the early visitors.  Enter the foyer and be ushered down a dark hallway.  The sanctuary sits still in complete silence.  Only the voices of three fit and young bartenders, barely old enough to not be alter boys, decorate the sound sphere.  Far away, shadows move about.  They test the sound system.  The time reads fifteen after six. 


There stands a lengthy black painted rectangle bar.  Above the impressive stacks of spirits hang two dazzling crystal chandeliers aglow in red.  On the floor sits two massive stacks of speakers.  Each is positioned at the corner of a theatrical veil that hides a stage.  The room’s focal point, the dance floor awaits action in majestic splendor underneath a state of the art LED that performs an acrobatic light show.  Adding to the ambience a machine spews vapor.  In the fog, behind the dance floor sits another black bar underneath another crystal chandelier set a fire in orange next to the DJ area.  The DJ booth that hovers six feet off the ground is spacious  enough to accommodate any DJ and his/her disciples.


Adjacent the DJ booth a narrow corridor leads to the holy of holies.  What is a church without a kitchen?  And what is a church kitchen for without cooking?  Anyone for a church dinner?  Instead of fried chicken, mac n’ cheese wantons is on the menu.  Just as fine.  Both are fried in grease.  Look up.  There on the monitor.  Whitney Houston delivers church through song and dance on a remixed house megamix. 


The Holy Trinity


From the pulpit, Minister Of Sound Ron Pullman welcomes the growing congregation to his brainchild, Humbled Legends.  The city’s debut celebration of its kind.  Underneath a giant disco ball the sanctuary’s wooden dance floor embraces love ones.  Brother Pride arrives.  Sister Pickens is nearby.  So are many others.  The people partake in fellowship of perfect harmony.  Minister of Sound Ron Pullman pays tribute.  “Thank You,” sings BeBe Winans over a Masters At Work 12’ mix. 


Minister Of Sound Kai Alce invites the growing congregation to worship.  The massive speakers bestow “Pienso En Ti” into the atmosphere.  Translation: Masters At Work’s “I Think Of You” declares the atmosphere righteous for divine purpose.  The founder delivers “People Hold On” (New Jersey Jazz Remix) and “Walking’ (Remix).  If Coldcut featuring Lisa Stansfield makes feet dance, then Mary Mary makes feet praise.  Grab the tambourine, it’s church time!


While all three Ministers Of Sound are one in the spirit of house music, all three are so unique in their ministry of sound.  Each brings a diverse element of energy that is united underneath the umbrella of soul.  Where ministers Ron and Kai’s classic sets felt a tad tired, Minister Kemit appears spirit-filled, energized and ready to deliver a  contemporary word.


“When Kemit plays the tempo of the room changes,” observes one sister.  Indeed the room glows.  Honestly Minister Of Sound Kemit glows.  With his head tilted upwards and his arms stretched towards the heavens the music maestro is ready to preach.  Once again, BeBe Winans shows up, this time with brother Pastor Marvin L. Winans and Stevie Wonder on Stevie’s cover “Jesus Children of America” (Big Moses Remix).  Kenny Bobien testifies “I Shall Not Be Moved.” The Underground Ministries’ anthem moves hearts.  Johnny Corporate’s, equipped with singing gospel vocals, “Sunday Shoutin’” makes hands clap and feet stomp.  Born-again Terrance Parker takes the congregation on high with “Love’s Got Me High.”  Elements of Life featuring Lisa Fischer and Cindy Mizelle let their little lights shine on “Into My Life (You Brought the Sunshine).”  The night’s anointed shocker.  “You’re The Lover Of My Heart/The Captain Of My Sea” sings Yolanda Adams on “Open My Heart” (Silk’s Spiritual Workout), her love letter to the Most High, over a bed of sliced disco.  Folks these ain’t your granddad’s hymnals or your grandma’s church service. 


Although, dotting the room, the many grey hairs and dun flops signal grandparent’s status.  Perhaps the new face of geriatrics is the soulful house market.  At one point more cellulite occupied black leather padded pews, uh-hmm couches, than bodies burning calories on the wooden floor.  Maybe the people’s bunions hurt.  Maybe their bodies tire.  Hallelujah anyway, as Minister Of Sound Kai returns to the pulpit and plays “Church” (Sting International Remix) by Peven Everett.  This time the sanctuary is jumping with bodies caught in the spirit of dance.  One dancer cheerfully notes, “What an amazing turnout for a Sunday night!” 


Perhaps Minister of Sound Kemit wholly sums up the celebratory atmosphere with one song. “Spread Love.”  Track number thirteen on his heavy-accolade long player “,Everlasting,” speaks of congregating in peace, unity and most of all love.  Listen closely as Kemit encourages people to live by example and lead out of the act and ability to spread love through music and dance.  After all, “We Are Gathered Here In This Place” sings  the song’s vocalist, Atlanta’s Sepensenahki. 

MASTER KEV 02.02.13

February 12, 2013


     There are a lot of people here! (pause) Not dancing.

Seven years earlier a gift enriched this magnificent metropolis.  At a time when many soulful/deep house music gatherings danced on the edge of extinction one man stepped out from the ashes to heed the call.  His name Ramon, his moniker Rawsoul, his vision The Gathering, hit the city’s underground soulful house community with a much-needed punch.  Naysayers and haters were wary; the dedication to helm a party, in the city too busy partying to even care, was no small feat.  The Gathering weathered storms.  Gone its former abodes; the warehouse, a studio, a coffee shop, and a restaurant’s basement all traded for the cozy confides of a restaurant’s Space2.  Successfully, since conception the party has hosted a wide spectrum of DJs plus cultivated a family atmosphere of house music lovers.  Over the course of time, one essential element remains intact, The Gathering is love.

Nestled within the walls of Space2, at The Gathering’s seven year bash, the love in the air spells w-e-l-c-o-m-e.   Warmth radiates from family faces collecting dollars at the door.  However, out of concern, a word of encouragement is uttered.  A further walk into the venue unfolds a curious manifest.      

Their accents speak louder than words.  His southern drawl from Music City USA and hers the thick throat finesse from France. Furry vests paired with ties dot the room.  A bare mid-drift walks by.  Despite the outdoor’s temperature reading thirty-six degrees, indoors the temperature hovers at seventy-five degrees.  Heat blasts on those gathered.  One kid dances in between and out of the dense throngs of hot flesh.  His drunken behavior is such that he bursts several party balloons-that decorate the premises-for what must be some form of amusement.  Bartender, no more PBR’s for this fella.  Despite the shenanigans the party is at a standstill-much like bumper-to-bumper traffic on 285. 

However, there is no stalled hooptie or no twenty car pile-up.  Just a bunch of bodies parked on the dance floor.   In semi-circle fashion, like at a drive-in theater except “Everyone’s Favorite Photographer” John Croom’s visuals from the Gathering’s past seven years provides the entertainment.

Piano keys play staccato style that run amuck, orchestrated strings twirl to climatic heights, as a warm melody approaches.  Anyone for Lil’ Louis,’ “Fable?” (Denise).  No one answers.  No one moves.  Hometown hero Kai Alce tirelessly works the musical dashboard to deaf ears.  Eyes of every shade of hue stare expressionless, as if hypnotized, at the slideshow splattered on the unfinished plastered wall.  Folks this ain’t no Peven Everett concert.  Next, the NDATL headphone wearer tries to make the audience feel “special.”  Fail.  All eyes continue their obsessive loyalty to the wall of holes.  Must be the crowd is stuck in neutral.  Kai slams the brakes, jams the musical gear shift into reverse, and heads into classic house territory.  No one cares.  The dumbfounded stares continue.  The slideshow repeats for the umpteenth time.  C’mon.  Really?.?  Can the Scottish duo the Nightcrawlers’ “Push The Feeling On” (MK Club Mix) save the party?  Perhaps.  Slowly, a handful of feet shuffle.  The zombie like trance might wear off.  Maybe signs of life on the floor will show.  Season soul sensation Donnie’s “Olmec Save Us” (Yoruba Soul) into the mix and bam!!!  The party is off to a late start.     

After midnight, DJ turned Chef Sir Thomas honors The Gathering with a vanilla icing chocolate cake. 

“Happy Anniversary To You, Happy Anniversary To You, Happy Anniversary To The Gathering, Happy Anniversary To You.”  The crowd should sing.  But they don’t.  

Suddenly a figure wearing a checkered cap, dressed in a blue tee, and blue denim appears onstage.  The crowd grows silent and rushes to the front of the DJ stage.  The figure alongside Ramon Rawsoul and Kai Alce inspects the DJ equipment.  Two Pioneer CD players.  Check.  One Technics 1200 turntable.  Check.  A state-of-the-art mixer.  Check.  The figure’s hand steadily plugs a USB into the left Pioneer’s port.  This action confirms all systems ago.  The dashboard’s control panel comes to life.  The time is nigh. 

The figure needs no introduction.  He’s the DJ’s DJ.  West Coast house music pioneer, Marques Wyatt dubbed him “the brutha from another mutha.”  The DJ/producer/remixer is constantly name checked on linear notes.  He is a NYC night-life legend.  He is Master Kev.     

The speed limit reads 125 BPMs.  Pistons hum. The party’s throttle kicks into high gear.  Monotonous chords that wallop against 808s come to a screeching halt. An understated drum kick starts.  Vocals whisper “Piano In The Dark.”  This is Nick Curly’s haunting groove remixed by the Yoruba Soul purists.  Oddly, DJ Master Kev plays the opening number at safe speeds of 120 BPMs.  Shifting into 3rd gear, Jill Scott’s “Crown Royal” (Timmy Regisford & Quentin Harris) heavy bass line blasts onto the soundscape.  Surprise! Don’t expect to sing “Crown Royal on Ice.”  This is the instrumental.  One dancer yells, “More vocals.  More vocals.”  Her wish is Master Kev’s command.  Instead of Jilly from Philly singing, her contemporary, the late Luther Vandross sings one of his classics over the T&Q treatment.  It’s a two-for-one creation, the mashups, that DJ Master Kev is widely known to unleash and wreck havoc on crowds.  Vocals courtesy of Honeycomb’s Josh Milan produced by Japanese house head Namy’s “From Now On” rides over a dirty house beat that pumps at higher speeds.  The premier of hometown wunderkind Salah Ananse with newcomer Paul Vincent on vocals “Toxic” (Salah Ananse Afrique Electrique Dub) shifts the room into a feverish fit not registered prior that night.  The dancers summon the ancestors as they writhe on the floor.  Homage to producers in the house continues with DJ Roland Clark’s spoken words on DJ Le Roi’s “I Get Deep,” that stutters with tremolos and splits the room in two like a diced atom.  Music from South Africa’s Ralf Gum and Monique Bingham’s “Take Me to My Love” drops and explodes. Ms. Biggah Bingham’s vocals are whipped into a dizzying swirl that has the dancers dance on and on and on and on but they never catch up.  Perhaps, Master Kev tries too hard with Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.”  The DJ drops the music to let Stevie Nicks and the crowd sing: “Thunder Happens Only When It’s Raining.”  Only, no one sings along.  The classic plays way too long and never catches on.  Oh well, maybe next time.   Rufus and Chaka Kahn show up in the mix with “Any Love” over techie vrooms.  Master Kev saves the best for last with folk guitars strumming underneath African vocals sung in native tongue.                                   

Already the digital clock reads 2:30 pm.  The Gathering’s founder, Ramon Rawsoul, appears onstage ready to control the vessel’s music.  Master Kev appears relentless to surrender.  Indeed MK does slay the room with some vocal/folk funk that is rare in these parts.  Appropriately, Ramon Rawsoul is the man of honor who best serves to close out his party.  So, the sweater & tie DJ takes the rein, adds a 4/4 count, and increases the BPMs.  He drives the music to Africa where handclaps and afro-chants dance with subtle tech.  South Africa’s Zakes Bantwini’s “Wasting My Time” (Rocco Dance Floor Mix) wastes no time slaying the dancers left on the floor.  The song’s razor-sharp synths crescendo to spill blood on the dance floor.  Music worlds collide on Usher’s “Climax” remixed by Jo’burg’s G’Sparks Spilulu. The late Nkemdilin “Kemdi” Amadiume sings on Handcrafted Soul’s “I’m Still A Dancer” to the handful of dancers left on the dance floor.  Sadly, the show must end before Byron Moore completes “Life Starts Today.”  Three am arrives; its closing time.            

Great times were had with Master Kev as camera’s flashed and gratitude was exchanged.  The Gathering was a phenomenal success.  Well attended and well executed.  The experience ranked up there on the party’s top five.  Hopefully, next time, there is more dance space and less obstructions.  DJ K Mixx’s (welcome back) subwoofers sat in a funky space, right front and center the DJ booth, not allowing those that prefer to worship at the alter to do so.  Also, here is to smoother concrete with no craters.  The dance floor had more potholes than a downtown street after a harsh winter.  Attorney Ken Nugent would say, “One fall, that’s all.”      

In the words of Ramon Rawsoul, “Other parties are like mega churches everyone goes there.  But The Gathering is like the small church you grew up in.  It’s family.” The Gathering is that and more.  The place you call home.  The place you go back to when you need the real deal.  The place you go to feel the love.       

Cheers to The Gathering’s next seven years.

Words and photography by AJ Dance


January 21, 2013



The debauchery eludes no evidence of a slain civil right’s leader holiday celebration on the eve of an historic Fifty-Seventh Presidential Inauguration.  Yet it is.  Olympic occasions such as these might call to mind dutiful citizens bound in prayer, reflection and sobriety.  Not so-in the city too busy to hate.  For the past few years, once a year, one party does it right.  Adult Skate- the spot where you find bodies fully clothed in dance of the finest soul and not where nudes frolic on eights.  The Tradition Edition provides Soulantans with clarity.  A rhyme for the reason.  The right to party.  After all, this is the city too busy partying during a three day holiday weekend to even care. 

Follow the wall of painted marching feet and a pair of roller skates down into the belly of the beast.  There you might discover unexpected impressions.  The once shady hole-in-the-wall has undergone a sub-level gloss.  Artistic interpretations-seemingly too innocent for the underground-align murals painted in primary bold and subdued hues.  Painted lines of symmetry play escort.  The walls speak.  Their message instructs each person’s activity.  Look no further than the wall adjacent the stage painted of dancing silhouettes for explanation.  Eye the painted dancers to the painted symmetric boxes to find the DJ headquarters.  The king-size DJ booth can handle a god-complex DJ and his twenty plus entourage’s exclusive roped-off experience.  Remember the former DJ booth propped high above the flying saucer dance floor, against a wall, by a step ladder with no roaming space and very little to if any breathing space?  The sober challenged provided many of laughs trying to enter the minuscule infirmity.  If only the black poll in the center of the dance space were removed then the space would enter into the echelons of upscale.  Even the bathrooms are polished a luster shine of their former shade.  Hopefully gone are the apocalyptic size cockroaches that crawled atop the old sofas exchanged for pest-free plush.  Although the Modern Jazz Quartet Concourse may look remixed it has not lost its license to dance.

The belly of the beast bops and bumps.  Bellows of boisterous bass lines signal all nations to groove. They get down-the house nation, the soul nation, the disco nation, the b-boy nation, the rock nation, the funk nation, the hip-hop nation, the indie music nation, the rhythm nation-a vast network interweaving and intermingling as one. 

DJ Kemit

DJ Kemit, in mid groove, spins vinyl on the one’s and two’s.  Yes, that is two turntables and a Bozak mixer.  Actually this is a 90% acetate party.  Records will skip.  Grooves will be scratched.  The crisp sound of vinyl will chirp.  This is organic and not archaic sound reproduction.

Producer Ralf Gum shakes maracas.  Vocalist Monique Bingham singsTake Me To My Love.”  The dancers go on and on and on and on and on and on as they try to catch up to 125 BPMs.  Enter Osunlade’sEnvision(Yoruba Soul Mix) who guests on the DJ of the hour’sTransformfor conscious clarity.   Cue Kenny Bobien to take the hand clappers to church with a classic Frankie Feliciano Ricanstruction rendition.  Feet dance.  Fingers snap.  Hips sway.  Smiles overtake faces.  Voices sing “Father.”

DJ Cullen Cole

Cullen Cole the chef of music culinary delights.  Nineteen-ninety’s house music is the menu.  Cullen serves that signature house sound with a kick and a spicy side of bang.  This concoction is not for the faint, those that play down the beat in their house sets, but for those that take the BPMs up a notch.  Cullen’s house music tastes better served hard than soft.  Adult Skate’s guests gather and feast on such delicate soul.  Oh my do they ever gobble up the tasty treats as wine glasses over flowing with golden bubbles are thrown in the air for a toast.  Cheers to underground house music!  It’s a bombastic feast of oral audio.  Cullen mixes; a Rhode organ for salt, saxophones for sweetness, and electric synthesizers for acidity, house music’s flavor combination. Not everyone can digest such delicacies.  Something erupts.  A foul odor chokes the air.  Is it bad gas?  Or someone serving hash for desert?  Whatever the culprit.  Mouths hack.  Neck scarves become oxygen masks.

Suddenly, the needle on the record skips.  Someone forgot to clean off the vinyl?  The dancers miss a beat.  The music jumps counts.  The dancers are thrown off.  Jaws drop.  The question-What would a DJ do?-hangs in the balance.  Hard-pressed visages confront unbelief.  A wreck will occur if something does not yield.  DJ Cullen stays the course like a blond-hair blue-eye Messiah.  He does not allow any casualties.  He eyes his flock.  He counts his sheep.  He rides out the storm and speaks, peace be still.   Dark clouds roll back.  The sun shines again.  The music continues its mission without distraction.  The dancers continue their dance.  All is well.  Listen closely.  The room breathes a sigh of relief.

Kai Alce

Kai Alce goes in deep.  The local legend’s musical statement sounds off focus and more sporadic at intervals.  Orchestrated strings climax to a dizzying high.  Questions swirl around the room, “Is it time for disco?  One answers in grief, “If so, it’s time to leave.”

Actually, the NDATL label head keeps it Strictly Rhythm with Hardrive’sDeep Inside.”  The intro sounds of warm pads, minus drums.  Sixty seconds later, the kick drum kicks at 124 BPMs.  Pearly whites flash.  All are happy.  The mismatch of songs and beats continues.  Such happenings keep the crowd frantic but on their feet and guessing.  What’s next?  Donnie’sOlmec Save Us.” (Yoruba Soul Mix)  Yes!  Black Rascals featuring Cassio Ware, “So In Love” (Shelter Remix)?  Yes!  As time approaches 3 am, Kai Alce pulls out the freedom season’s anthems, Kemitic Just’s, “I Got Life” with Terrance Downs on vocals and the ladies anthem “Earth Is The Place(Restless Soul Peaktime Mix) by Nathan Haines featuring Verna Francis.  Too bad the room is nearly empty of souls that have evaporated into January’s cold night’s air.

This tradition edition felt far removed from a MLK celebration.  Had it not been for DJ Kemit sprinkling into Cullen’s cuisine-let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia-those gathered might have forgotten what this occasion marked.  Other ingredients amiss were classic soul, disco and afro-beat.  House music out shined them all.  If you were not a fan then you were chopped.  True fans, actually, left the party high.

Perhaps, Dr. King might not have endorsed this debacle of behavior.  As one darling eloquently commented, “That didn’t stop her from lighting a BIG one.”  SHM.  It’s just another night in the city too busy partying to even care.

Words and photography by AJ Dance

HOUSE IN THE PARK 8 02.09.12

September 3, 2012


Gone are the days when House In the Park was intimate, sitting at quaint public city parks where 500 people gathered.  Today, House In the Park has become a behemoth must-attend event for house heads, non house heads and soon to be house heads from around the world.  It groups with the likes of large music festivals, think Music Midtown, DEMF or Bonnaroo.  The event has grown so large it could easily sit on a 700 acre farm somewhere in Georgia or on a meadow in the city’s largest park overlooking a pavilion with a giant stage where the Fab 4 can DJ.  Get ready!  In the near future, if HITP continues its exponential expansion these ideas might consider further exploration but for now we’ll settle for two pavilions at its latest incarnate, Grant Park.

HITP’s footprints have danced the city far and wide for the best green space with amenities.  Eight years earlier, Candler Park with no electrical outlets played host.  Thereafter, home for six years was Perkerson Park in the heart of the city’s Southwest Capital View community.  Amazingly, during that time span something happened that every event planner prays to experience.  The phenomenon called growth plagued HITP at such an unprecedented rate that PP had to be abandoned for greater green space.  So, off to the city’s east side where the oldest and fourth largest park named after engineer Lemuel P. Grant seemed a more suitable fit.

Home to the city’s only zoo, civil war-esque Cyclorama, swimming, and recreation facilities the 131.5 acres is somewhat a tourist trap.  Grant Park sits between Cherokee Avenue and Boulevard SE where Confederate Avenue begins or ends depending on one’s view.  Yes, this is the park where the guy jogs wearing a Confederate flag.  However, on this day HITP’s house music freedom flag waves for all to behold.

Already, the park is abuzz with various makings.  Picture perfect blue skies while birds chirp songs of joy.  The morning temperatures announce another noon day scorcher.  Fresh air travels to and fro delivering lively scents of burning charcoal.  Famous chicken sausages and green veggies sizzle on grills.  In the not so far away distance, a soundtrack of classic house music and old-school hip hop emanate from a portable device in the smaller of the three pavilions transplanted between pavilion 1 and pavilion 2.    To the left, several vendors assemble a massive tent, and to the right muscle men carry folding chairs and folding tables.  Jovial moms push little ones in high-tech strollers as little girls run by giggling.  Boisterous voices thunder across the pathway to greet love ones with cherish bear hugs.  The scene embodies one giant family reunion. This is love in the park.

The noonday’s festivities kick off sharply with the internationally acclaimed DJ Kemit of Spread Love assuming musical duties.  As the band Rufus plays backup, singer Chaka Kahn wastes no time taking lead on “I Know You, I Live You” that draws singing voices and dancing sneakers racing to pavilion 1.  Next, DJ Kemit throws in a classic for all the old-school house heads with Ten City’s Devotion.”  After another round of oldies but goodies and Afefe Iku’sBody Drummin”, DJ Kemit logs off as music ambassador as the next musicologist logs on.

It’s the DJ with the dreads that proves new songs can be just as addictive as old songs.So Addictive(The Layabouts Addicted to House Vocal Mix) by Benedetto & Farina featuring vocals by Sandy Spady, laid back vibe ushers in a refreshing cool breeze that the dancers warmly welcome.  DJ Salah Ananse’s ever eclectic persona takes the vibes deep back to 1997 with gospel legend BeBe Winans “Thank You” (Masters At Work 12” Mix) that brings Sunday morning church service and the crowd to the park’s pavilion.  Keeping things classic, Chic’s “Dance, Dance, Dance” storms P 1 which is packed with sweaty bodies.  Once again, the tone cools down a bit with the disco-esque bouncy grooves from the UK’s Layabouts featuring Seattle vocalist Portia Monique on the sing-along Do Better.”  DJ Kemit AKA MC Kemit hops on the microphone and announces a Salah Ananse exclusive that pounds from the speakers.  An afro beat comes to a thrilling climax as 1990’s “hip hop on an R&B tip with a pop appeal/feel to it” pioneers, Bell Biv Devoe sing “She’s Driving Me Outta My Mind” on their platinum hit, “Poision.”  What a surprise as Generation X sings along and jumps off into dance hysteria.  The song that receives the “MOST CRUNK” award goes to one of the most recognized song’s in the world, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”  This ambitious undertaking remixed by South African sensation Black Motion (Mortarfied Bootleg) equipped with an afro house beat, brass horns and Vincent Price’s famous cackle is without a trace of MJ’s theatric chops.  The remix builds to a climatic peek with Vincent’s howl that raises the roof off the hinges as the afro beat slams on the heads of the crowd that sends bodies into frantic fits of rage.  Fists pump the air as mouths drop agape and feet stomp the concrete.  The Afrique Electrique founder known for his production/remix skills sets the bar high with another handcrafted standard this time with Goyte’s featuring Kimbra “Somebody That I Used To Know” (Salah Ananse Mix) one of the countless interpretations of the Top 40 smash that now thumps with an afro house kick accompanying its lullaby inflection.  “Do You Have It?” The questioned begged by DJ Spen presents LeRoyal, Baltimore’s up and coming urban/pop sensation, remixed by Maurice Joshua, told the people to say “Yeah” if you have the key to life, love.  On the grunge front, Salah drops another goodie, his rework to Nirvana’s, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Salah Ananse Mix) that was last years HITP 7 anthem.  A tribute to the late great Fela’s afro beat rounds out one of the most diverse, eclectic and impressive sets of the day.  Salah rocked that fresh face house music mixed with an alternative vibe of unpredictability that shows the crowd love and the crowd responds with more of the same.

“How many of you were at the Paradise Garage?” The master of ceremony shouts into the microphone and asks the crowd.  The crowd roars like lions.  To both pavilions, old-school heads rush in droves as DJ Kemit rewinds the hands of time to yesteryear.  A fellow well know old-school head raises a crafty constructed Paradise Garage poster that travels the pavilion.  Time rests somewhere between the years 1976-1987 as the group Chicago’s “Street Player” takes the dancers to the land of FM radio and disco roller rinks.  The crowd can’t get enough as DJ AKA MC Kemit announces a future surprise.  Then it happens, a song plays that causes the people to respond like wild animals in summer heat.  BT Express’ “Peace Pipe” smokes and burns receding hairlines and salt and pepper follicles completely bald.  After a well-rounded tribute of old school classics, DJ Kemit switches gears and brings the vibe back to the present.  The Yoruba Recordings catalog Is on full-blast as Yoruba label mate Afefe Iku’s Re-edit of the mega platinum selling rock band Radiohead’s,“Everything In Its Right Place” takes the listeners on an ancestral journey of deep rhythms and tribalism.  Yoruba Recordings label head Osunlade’sEnvision(Yoruba Soul Mix) tingles the air.  By design, DJ Kemit segues into two songs from his recently released long player titled,Everlasting.”  The first single Transformshimmers with Osunlade singing lead vocals while Spread Loveshines with Atlanta’s Sepesenahki on vocals, the theme to DJ Kemit’s acclaimed ectopic party with the same moniker.  “Go pick up the album at Moods Music or on the web at ……, “announces compere Kemit.  The former Arrested Development DJ is in pleasure mode and is on the prowl to please every lady in attendance.  The lovelies are serenaded with not one but THREE offerings; from DJ Zinhle featuring vocalist Busiswa Gqulu with My Name Is,” to Teddy Douglas presents Margaret Grace with God Created Woman,” to Verna  Francis, “Earth Is The Place” (Restless Soul Peaktime Mix) that has the ladies singing, “Cause I’m a woman.”

Expectedly, every woman arrives implacably dressed and ready to impress.  Actually, HITP is a tour de fashion.  Every hair-do possibly imagined is sported by the ladies.  Afros, braids, curls, extensions, faux hawks, locs, natural, and twisties bop and weave around the park.  Every hair color is spotted on tops of heads from blonde, blue with purple roots, pink, red and brown.  Hair hangs cropped, short, shoulder length and down the back that can rival any famous hair show.  Vibrant outfits of every summer color electrify eyes.  Every hue of bare skin provides orectic temptation.  Accessories of sneakers, kneepads, belts, neckwear, ear wear, eyewear and church hats compliments bare skin against sweat- stained clothes.  Actually, wearing one outfit is not sufficient.  Yes, a second change of clothes is needed as several people change T-shirts, sundresses and shorts for the next DJ.

Ramon Rawsoul beams those pearly whites.  A million dollar smile flashes in the sun’s embrace.  The HITP founder stands aplomb to lead the congregants to the Mother Land.  The sojourners cross the Atlantic Ocean and arrive at Jo’burg’s townships on the continent called Africa where African rhythms are explored.  From the likes of Manoo’s,Kodjothe tribal banger to Zakes Batwini’sWasting My Timethe sounds of South Africa’s house music plays loud and proud.  From there Ramon gives his parishioners a glimpse at his stomping grounds back in Chicago, Illinois with a classic Chi-town acid house music track.  Then it’s time to get serious with Jill Scott’s vocal prayer “Hear My Call” (Pablo Martinez Mix).  Someone somewhere must have danced to the rain gods because in the midst of the tribal excursion raindrops descend upon the park.  To tease the crowd, Ramon plays Kerri Chandler’sRain(Atjazz Mix) the soundtrack to the precipitation.  The refreshing shower that lasts a mere ten minutes does nothing to divert the people’s attention in the park.  As the rain clouds roll away, sunny skies reappear and dance to Ceramic featuring Aisling Stephenson’s Broken Dreams(Ian Friday ‘Tea Party’ Vocal).  Unsung, Atlantic Starr shows up with “Send For Me” (Master Kev & Tony Loreto) that makes the hearts of old-school die.  One observer notes, she has died and gone to heaven while one house head proclaims, this is paradise.  How important it is to play new songs that young people can relate too.  A team of young girls, holding hands, walks through P 1 and mouths Goyte’s anthem “Somebody That I Used To Know” (Master Kev & Tony Loreto Mix).  The song that plays for the second time at the event marks one of the many music standouts of the day.  The anthem also wraps up Ramon’s time on deck.  Thanks for taking the pilgrimage to the lands of South Africa to explore the deep tribal sounds of house music.  Musical exposure is a key concept at HITP.

Kai Alce is his name and music is his game.  When the mixologist plays people show up in droves to experience the master at work.  Always the final installment of the Fab 4, Kai wraps up the party with old-school meets on the horizon anthems.  From classic disco, Brainstorm’s “Lovin Is Really My Game” to classic house, Kenny Bobien’sFather” (Ricanstruction Mix) there was something played for all peoples.

Of course, an event of this magnitude will have a few issues.  It all started during DJ Salah Ananse’s set.  At various times and in various spots within P 1 dance circles formed for the elite of dancers to battle and show off fancy footwork, hand stands and pop and lock art forms.  Honestly, when the pavilion is packed with bodies in motion, there’s not much room in the pavilion for open mouthed bystanders to besiege cropped circles to watch b-boys and dancers prove crown.  HITP needs all the dance space it can conjure.

During DJ Kemit’s illustrious set, there was the mishap fire incident when a fire extinguisher is needed within fifteen minutes or the park and party would have been shut down.  Inside the pavilion, people took the matter into their own hands chanting “The roof/The roof/The roof is on fire/We don’t need no water/ Let the …..(well you know the rest).  Yes, the people mentioned the undesirable right in front of families and small ones.  “People HITP is about family.  Let’s respect the kids,” announced MC Kemit.  At that time, someone had the brilliant idea to throw water into the air until MC Kemit laid down the law and had a come to Jesus meeting with the obnoxious.

By the time Kai Alce assumed music duties, P 1 became so crowded that for the first time ever at HITP crowd control was needed.  Outside of P 1 a HITP female volunteer stood with yellow caution rope in hand to let one to two people into P 1 at a time.  In effort to find additional space P 1 was abandoned for P 2.  However, both pavilions overflowed with people like cellulite trapped in spandex on a hot day.  In P 2 the hysteria chants of ATL vs New York vs every other city represented at the park was nauseating.  SECURITY.  We need security in P 2 fast before the zoo animals get out of hand.  Actually, the city’s zoo is at the other end of the park.

Once again, HITP set out to exceed expectations and that it accomplished.  From its latest stomping grounds to the music played the event was not only the summer’s hot sauce on collards but the fatback to the event of the year.  What a beautiful experience to behold and witness.  Also, words to the wise, next year, please don’t submit the DJs a request list.  The Fab 4 need not be told how to do their job.  These cats are the very best of the best.  They know what music to play and how to play music.  All four professionals played a diverse work of art that well-represented genres of music that ranged from house, classics, to soul. Please keep in mind, this is not the NYC Weekender, nor the Chicago Weekender, nor the Detroit Weekender, nor the San Francisco Weekender or the London Weekender.  It’s not even the Old-School Weekender or the New-School Weekender.  This is the ATLANTA WEEKENDer and HITP is house music.  So Atlanta standup.  This is your time to shine.  Be it the music that unites and not divides.  House music conquers with LOVE!

WEEKENDer Epilogue

After dancing on the concrete and sweating outdoors for several hours, you find out there’s an after party that you must attend.  Off you go….


Words and Photography by AJ Dance


September 3, 2012

Photography by AJ Dance

KARIZMA 31.08.12

September 1, 2012


Launch Control:  Atlanta, we’re set to blast off.  All systems are ready to go.

In the Sound Table, the people stand on pins and needles.  An anticipatory buzz ignites the air aflame.  

Time: T minus 3 minutes.
Launch Control (LC): KAI, Technics 1200 right arm has needle.
KAI: Attached.
LC: KAI, Technics 1200 left arm has needle.
KAI: Attached.
LC: Pioneer CDJ 1 tray press open.
KAI: Open.
LC: Pioneer CDJ 2 tray press open.
KAI: Open.
LC: KAI, vent 1 speaker control power on.
KAI: Power on.
LC: KAI, vent 2 speaker control power on.
KAI: Power on.
LC: the Sound Table reports spacecraft is go.
Mission Director: Karizma Kaytronic is go.
LC: the ST – FTS bat one and two heater controls heaters off.
the ST: Off.
LC: Karl Injex, pressurized first stage LOX tanks to relief.
Karl Injex: Pressurized.
LC: Karl Injex, top first stage LOX to 100 percent levels.
Karl Injex: Up and down, 100 percent.
Time: Ninety seconds.
LC: KAI, hydraulic external power on.
KAI: Power on.
Time: Eighty seconds.
LC: RCO, report range go for launch.
Range Control Officer (RCO): Range go for launch.
Mission Director: LC (Viera), you’re go for launch.
LC: Roger.
Time: Seventy seconds.


Atlanta’s acclaimed DJ/producer/remixer Kai Alce proclaimed, “Its A New Day.” The mantra interwoven through a soundscape of current mid-tempo grooves ends in the record crates of vintage house music sounds.  It’s been noted the NDATL label owner has been on an old-skool house music tip lately and his followers are all smiley faces.  Mr. Alce slices and dices mellifluous beats that drive happy feet mad to the restaurant floor to dance between dining tables and around seating guests.  Warm cheers serenade the cozy environment that patronize dining companions munching on the last bites of oxtail tacos while clicking cocktail glasses of Blackfoot Confederacy atop candle lit tables.  Finally, after an eternity, the full bellies abandon their stations as the wooden oblong dining tables are evacuated onto the outdoors back patio or stationed alongside an exposed brick wall.  The transformation from delectable eatery to decadent dance club signals the countdown to……..

 Time: Fifty seconds 

After Kai wraps up an astonishing set the party’s way over due special guest DJ, Karizma steps foot into the DJ booth.  Ready. Set…….

Launch Control: We interrupt this blog to bring you a very important announcement.  T minus to launch off is approximately thirty seconds.  The ATLANTA WEEKENDer, Afrique Electrique or Distinctive cannot and will not be held responsible for what will take place to your body, mind and soul.  Please, prepare to be possessed by strange rhythms that will descend upon you like bolts of lightning.  Your life will never be the same.  As a matter-of-fact, within the coming week you will experience severe withdrawals from the seismic shift that will take place.  Brace yourself.  Get ready for the ride of your life.  You are about to launch off on Space Shuttle K2.  AKA Space Shuttle Karizma Kaytronik.  Your destination and mission: To seek out uncharted rhythms and to dance on unexplored worlds. 

LC: T minus 10 seconds, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1,


For anyone’s guess what occurs next could not be possibly conceived or imagined.  All it takes is for one switch of a button to launch the party’s booster rockets into space that sends the shuttles red glare bursting into the air.  The travelers packed into the thin vessel stand frozen-in animated positions with stunned visages-completely suspended in space and time until…….a jolt is felt.  A thump is heard…… that signals the arrival of some unknown orchestrated philharmonic ready to pounce on the heads of the people.  Split between several seconds, calmness gives way to chaos.  Quiet anticipation gives way to boisterous recollection.  A whirlwind of activity electro charges the atmosphere as Karizma Kaytronic presses play and sends the room into static shock.  The environment is shocked with piceous particles ready to manifest in ectopic explosions.  A seismic shift occurs.  The travelers don’t expect such force.  Nor have they experienced such blithe.  Suddenly, people’s feet seem to detach off the floor, somehow able to defy gravity.  Strange rhythms pulsating from several speakers command the floating bodies to dance in mid-air.  The moonwalk has nothing on this.  With force, the sacred grooves possess every soul within sight.  The strange rhythm slam bodies against walls, drops bodies to the floor, and makes bodies roll on the floor.  One individual even wants to scale up a wall.  One being that vibrates violently, runs around in circles and dances as if overtaken by a secular ghost.  Clothes fall apart.  How can they not?  A left suspender strap hangs loose.  A red hat falls off one dancer’s head, flies several feet in the air and lands somewhere on the other side of the ship.  Not one body or article is safe from this spatial anomaly.

Let’s back-up.  Just who and what is this strange phenomenon called a Karizma Kaytronik?  Perhaps a look into the house music’s history logs can provide additional insight.  Karizma Kaytronik hails from Baltimore, Maryland USA, the city better known for its crime-ridden statistics and cable television police drama than its music.  Every so often a life force shows up bearing talented gifts.  His name happens to be Kris Klayton.  Over time, Kris’ government name became Karizma the stage persona that won the world over with unmatched DJ skills and signature productions crafted under several monikers.  To explore the mind of Karizma his name must be defined.  Charisma is a gift of power that is divinely bestowed upon an individual.  The power that Karizma possesses when he plays music is unequal to any rival.  Some DJs can play music.  Then there are DJs that can actually PLAY music.  The latter are the anointed ministers of music (hence Karizma’s brother in rhythm DJ Spen) where Karizma Kaytronic falls.  The in-demand DJ/producer/remixer doesn’t cue a CD and press play or cue some laptop software and press enter, he takes a beat and pulls an a cappella out of his a$$ and creates spontaneous smash-ups.  These live remixes rock the global community of house mongers from the US to Croatia.  To create spontaneous remixes is no wee task as a veteran goes through mind boggling hours and years of practice to pull off such a craft.

So what’s the fuss?  It all starts with the Freddie Hubbard, “Little Sunshine” interpolation, sampled by the likes of Pepe Braddock, Trackheadz, Jask and DJ Spen, that explodes in the ear drums of the listeners.  Several seconds later, an, “Heeyyyy,”  “Ohhhhh” resonates and commands its place on board the ship.  The unexpected yet surprising vocals cause rapture.  Look up in the air, it’s a meteor, it’s an unidentified flying object, no it is songbird Jill Scott’s, “Golden” flying to the rescue that makes this supernatural smash-up the journey’s soundtrack.  Stop!  Someone’s heart just exploded.

On one hand, Karizma is a humble gent with a clever persona when in conversation.  However, once behind the musical controls, out comes the world revered DJ’s other personality.  Kaytronic, Karizma’s alter-ego, takes over the ship’s music controls and flies the people at warp speeds to uncharted territories.

Kaytronik’s first stop transports the travelers to the realm of Planet Old-School where time travels backwards and forwards simultaneously.  The recently re-edit old-school anthem of Rufus & Chaka Kahn’s,Live In Me remixed by Karizma’s brother in rhythm DJ Spen, commands the star power that keeps the crowd zoned out in euphoric mental states.  Time continues its retrograde as BT Express’, “Peace Pipe” the 1970’s war protest anthem has the crowd “smoke it on up.”  Another house music classic from yesteryear recently interpreted for the current year, Kerri Chandler’s, Rain (Atjazz Mix) keeps the crowd all buzzed dancing animatedly in mid-air; as GQ, “Disco Nights”-the song that most DJs are playing as of late-warps minds back to a time of swinging bell bottoms and dancing platform shoes.  However, it is Saint Germain’s, “Rose Rouge” from the year 2000 that takes the exploration to new heights.  On the time lapse planet, writhed bodies fall to the ground, roll on the floor, and cause substantial damage to anyone standing in their way.  Minds become twisted with strange debacles.  This 2000 space odyssey loses all control and goes mad.

Once again the lodestar, with a press of a button, vaporizes the travelers into thin air where their bodies land on another unknown surface.  There are certain DJs that can unleash the BEAST.  Not all DJs, honestly not that many, can awaken the slumber of the beast.  Every so often, perhaps every blue moon, the beast is unleashed that strikes.  To witness its attack is bar none.  Shhhh.  Quietly the dancers watch their every move on this ramshackle planet that resembles an apocalyptic scene straight from a nightmare.  Hold on just for one minute.  In the distance, there appear several frightening beast-like forms that resemble dead zombies from a certain iconic music video.  A closer inspection reveals their ghastly movements interpret the dance moves danced in that certain iconic music video.  In the background the shouts of trumpets blast to the forefront of the mind.  It is the opening sequence to Black Motion’s interpretation of Michael Jackson’s opus, “Thriller” (Mortarfied Remix) the bootleg with that afro-house beat that has the monsters dancing.  Quickly the travelers join suit and dance with the otherworldly beasts with smiles on their faces.  All is well on this planet.  Truth be told, music is the universal language.

The dancers beam back on board Shuttle K2, and are fixated on French-ster Rocco featuring C. Robert Walker on vocals with, I Love The Night (Louie Vega Roots Mix).  In the DJ booth, Kaytronik doesn’t play around, nor does he expect the dancers to play around on the dance floor.  His music comes off boisterous but not pretentious.  The beats play hard, not fair.  Karizma is no joke.  Nor is he for the ballerina types that prance to fingers that snap softly at 120 beats per minute or below.  Folks, this IS your father’s house music.  That Baltimore, Chicago, and Detroit shit that pioneered house music’s movement in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, a time when the beats were allowed to be pitched up, or jacked up to its fullest furor to deliver seismic jolts to the heart.  So if you like to play patty cake beats then get out of the cockpit because things are bound to get HOT!

More homage to Rufus & Chaka Kahn is paid with “I Know You, I Live You” that comes to an abrupt stop in mid-song.  From the mouth of one disgruntle traveler spews four letter obscenities that hurls toward the DJ booth.  However, all is well as the next song starts that has the once cursing traveler now singing, “Tell Me/Would You Like/If The DJ/Brought It Back” at the top of her lungs with a smile on face.  The broken beat music segues into A Tribe Called Quest’s, “Award Tour” as the travelers scream in holy panic.  Additional old-school hip hop rounds out the trip that makes for a safe return to the Sound Table.


WEEKENDer Epilogue

The Sound Table’s lights come on.  One glance around the space reveals dishevelment.  What happened?  You question where you had gone?  You check your watch to find three hours has passed.  Really?!?  Had that much time lapsed?  For what was three hours seems like a mere three minutes.  Had you really been gone that long?

Later that morning, at your Studio Suite at the W Hotel (downtown) after a bit of sleep and slumber you find that your passport has been mysteriously stamped with a K2 Shuttle Mission ensignia.  Now that’s golden!!!

 Words & Photography by AJ Dance



August 5, 2012


The DJ Summer Olympic Games

Calling all Ladies and Gentlemen, for those of you unable to snag a ticket to one of the most anticipated events of the summer-the DJ Olympic Games-press the power button on the remote control to your HD plasma television and press the play key on your DVR to enjoy the recaps, replays and highlights from one of the most prolific parties to hit town. By far this summer, The Gathering was the Olympic event of house music. So, get ready to relive the joy, sweat, and tears from one of house music’s premiere parties.

The Opening Ceremonies

Former Olympic host city Atlanta, Georgia serenaded its own musical tribute to the Olympic Games; house music style. Local legend Kai Alce was commissioned to open the summer DJ ceremony with the spectacular lighting of the musical torch. Mr. Kai Alce did as so and produced an impressive show-stopping audio montage. In the mix, old-school house juxtaposed with the sultry sounds of the new school. However, it was the old-school house that resonated the clearest and deepest with beats that banged hard as hi-hats incessantly hissed under saxophone tremolos. Kai, armed with in-depth music acumen, represented his globe-trotting adventures of far and near with exclusives from Japan to Detroit. As the hometown hero worked the main stage of musical hardware consisting of two CDJ’s, a mixer, and was aided by a melancholy Goth, sitting in a chair, controlling the sound system, ticket holders straggled into the front door while others tried to enter from the back door. Please note. People do not try to enter the establishment via the back door without paying because you will be SHUT DOWN. PERIOD. Courtesy Management. By no means, was this event a spectator sport; but this event was all about participation. Already, the Olympic spirit was in the air, besieging every heart to beckon its athletic call. Several dancers warmed-up as if to compete in a four hour dance-a-thon of endurance and strength. Their feet pounded the pavement as their hips whipped from left to right as some even banged their fists on an exposed wall. Little did they realize their actions were on record because this too was a dance-a-thon for champions.

The Games

Who better to answer the call to represent the main games than the 3 Degrees Global ambassador, Julius The Mad Thinker? The party’s guest music curator sprang into action with the heart of a runner sprinting in a 100 meter dash. The Chicago native steadied himself, with position and pose, ready to march the Olympiads to victory. The first two rounds or songs of vocal house preached like a Sunday morning church service in the backwoods of the south. Out from the choir stand came the ever impressive Lady Alma and the Rainamkers’ with,Let It Fallthat represented Team USA. The song worked over those gathered into a celebratory frenzy coupled with screams, and fist pumping in the air action. Watch out the Holy Ghost was about to be unleashed. With lyrics as “Troubles Don’t Last Always/Let It Rain” the event was augmenting inspirational heights. Up next, Team Colombia appeared with the late Joe Arroyo’s “La Tortuga” (Jose Marquez Edit) singing in sensual Spanish. Spanish speakers and non-Spanish speakers truly appreciated the global gesture. The Mad Thinker himself, got in on the action and proudly sported his moniker, Aid To The Soulless with Desla on vocals singing, One Night“(Thinker & Kai Mix). Then the games went into club mode with Timmy Regisford’s and Lynn Lockamy, At the Club(Rocco Deep Mix) with pulsating heart-pounding thumps and progressive flair. With the drop of the beat Team Africa wasted no time and showed up with Zakes Bantwini,Wasting My Time (Black Coffee Original Mix). Suddenly, the music came to an abrupt stop. Oops. An eerie silence straddled the air (and plasma screens across the globe) for about two seconds. The referees had determined Team Africa would be disqualified from the round due to technical difficulties. Bummer. Valiantly, the gathered crowd responded with handclaps on the four-count and unified chants of “Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh/Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh.” (MC Hammer style) The dancers played great sportsmanship/sportswomanship as the music was cued by a frustrated looking Julius bouncing back into action. Talk about resilience of Olympic proportions. When the sport knocks you down, you get back up and keep running like the champion that you are. From there the house music went into Indie rock territory with Team Australia signaling the lead. The Temper Trap’s, “Sweet Disposition” (MFU All-Star Mix) proudly waved their country’s flag high for all to see. The dancers did not miss a beat and danced like they were competing athletes. Once again, Team Africa showed up, this time with vengeance and armed with African drums, as Afefe Iku from the island Manda off the coast of Kenya played, “Dakountdown.” The audience fell victim, dropping on their knees, to the duple meter drums, a swirling vocal riff and that auto-tuned 1,2,3,4. If that weren’t enough for a double header Team Africa launched into the dreamy, Fallingby DJ Kent featuring Malehloka Hlalele on the Black Coffee remix. Surely the Africans had recaptured their loss footing and won back their previous strides. From there the music beckoned its ambient call with atmospheric vibes sifting into the incense aromatic air. Promptly, Team French entered the mix with DJ/producer extraordinaire Rocco and C. Robert Walker-AKA the Luther Vandross of house music-on vocals crooning,I Love The Night(Louie Vega Roots Mix) that had the crowd singing, “Ooh Ah/I Like It/Like That At Night.” On another high note, “Bah, Bah, Bah, Baaahhh.” The gold medal winning song belonged to Honeycomb Music’s label head, Josh Milan with Your Body(Louie Vega Mix). Literally, the song received the prize-winning applause of the night. The atmosphere exploded with combustible confetti too elusive to bridle. If that weren’t enough, Team USA achieved another victory with the Los Angeles born, GRAMMY-nominated jazz vocalist, Gregory Porter’s,1960 What?(Opolopo Kick & Bass Rerub) remixed by Team Japan’s Opolopo that caused additional dance floor mayhem that received spirited praise.

The Closing Ceremonies

The Gathering’s’ founder,Ramon Rawsoul closed the Olympic event with an impressive array of who’s who in American soulful house. First up, a blast from the past straight into the living room’s across the world, Atlantic Starr performed, “Send For Me” (Master Kev and Tony Loreto Mix) their classic R&B hitter that rocked the crowd in the arms of nostalgia. Chicago legends Cajmere and Russoul featuring vocalist Ari Lourdes,Love Is Youthe John Legend and Chrisette Michelle cover showed much love to the nu-soul house movement. Classic material from New Jersey’s Kerri Chandler’s,Rainput the party back in hyper-drive after a brief protest from disgruntled music activists as Maryland’s Thommy Davis and Ron Hall’s, Fugue In Baltimorebrought down the house. Once again, a sound malfunction occurred and the music came to an abrupt stop. A two second FCC broadcast censor lingered on-air until Mr. Rawsoul restarted the music. By the way, what was up with the music equipment? Was it faulty or were the several wires that snaked around the field stepped on? Anyways, shoulder shrug. The show continued with twenty-first century R&B powerhouses, Jill Scott with, “I Think It’s Better” (Blaze Roots Vocal) and Alicia Keys with, “Feeling You Feeling Me” (Alpha and Omega Mix) belting out soul-drenched eargasms. Their virtuosa performances slowed the vibe down a bit but made for some dynamic dancing as background dancers squared off In crop circles while rolling around on the floor and committing fanatical poses of midair fascination. Also, the slower vibe fit perfectly for the lovers to couple dance and made for some spontaneous hook-ups via Grindr. The Gathering’s closeout theme, Bryon Moore’s, Life Starts Today(Tea Party Reprise) ended the glorious event with both Chicago natives and compeers onstage; a Julius The Mad Thinker tweaking away and turning the mixers knobs while Ramon Rawsoul gleefully sung the lyrics.

The Victories and Defeats

People from all walks of life; from age 21 and up, all ethnicities, all sexes, all sexual orientations and all creeds gathered together in celebration. What a wonderful exhibition of diversity that exemplified the golden spirit of the Olympic Games itself. By far, this had to be one of the most motley and record breaking attended Gatherings in its lengthy history. The arena was so packed from left to right and crammed from front to back with awestruck souls that experienced the spirit of soulful house music through song and dance. On the other hand, one of the event’s lack (besides the DJ being able to hear the music onstage) was that the people could have used a bit more Julius. Had the 3 Degrees Global ambassador played for an additional thirty minutes the missing Brits and other European teams could have showed face. Team United Kingdom would have been finely represented by tri-musician Ben Westbeech that would have competed perfectly in the vocalist/remixer/DJ rounds or veteran Joey Negro in the disco house competitions. Global phenomenon Gramophonedzie could have surfaced and represented well for Team Serbia in the swing house/jackin’ house categories with sampled big band sounds of talking trumpets, horny horns and big beats. Oh well, maybe in another four years they will. By the way, the gold medal for the dance-a-thon goes to the beautiful lady-a former Chicagoan herself-dressed in a black-lace top and white tank underneath, denim-short shorts and sneakers who danced for four hours nonstop. You go girl!!!

Words & Photography by AJ Dance