Posts Tagged ‘Louie Lou Gorbea’
Crossroads is defined by a road that crosses another road, or a road that runs transversely to main roads.*
“Please Stand By” reads the words painted on the wall. Around the corner, patrons sit at the bar, two pool tables entertain folk, “Pulp Fiction,” plays on several monitors, tired butts sit on couches, and a kid’s horsy ride sees no action. Over here hangs HD plasmas. Overhead hangs shiny disco balls. Over there hangs a speaker monitor from the ceiling. On the wall behind the DJ booth a graphic novel’s storyboard of love-scorn characters is painted, adjacent that wall freighting abstract heroines pose, as a painted naked anime girl blows a kiss from the DJ booth. The room with entirely too much activity, dance floor is completely empty.
A pillar of afro house blesses the lifeless floor. Where is everyone? Perhaps viewing the event’s live stream video in comfort on a laptop at home. The time reads eleven thirty. By the time the hour hand strokes midnight the crowd peaks to forty-something. A wandering eye questions is this as good as the attendance will get? Yes.
Techie synths, Latin percussions and sacred rhythms gather brave sojourners to join the dance ritual. This sacrament comes courtesy from the minister of sound DJ Ausar. Neither rare or common, the mouth covered DJ runs onto the floor, dances, and returns to the DJ booth to cue the next song. This is all a night of fun for the city’s Kalakuta radio show host. However, his night of fun is not without technical difficulties.
“Stop Jealousy,” by Boddhi Satva featuring Ze Pequino (Culoe De Song Kamnguni Remix), the final song in Ausar’s blessing, sets the place ablaze. That is, until the song lives up to the first word in its title and comes to an abrupt stop. Please, not again. Where Ausar drops the ball is where the night’s guest headliner from New York City picks up.
Sugar Groove’s guest DJ, producer and remixer extraordinaire always manages to bring the “WOW” to the event. Anyone for electric guitars that scream over afro house, acoustic guitars that pluck sweet goodness from melodic harmonies, pulsating bass lines that transform into staccato jabs of Latin percussions, a Hammond B-3 that takes the track to church and piano keys that play a dazzling sound spectacle worthy of the world’s tenth wonder? Then look no further than Louie “Lou” Gorbea. The man knows his music. He knows instruments. This is his crossroads of diverse sounds.
Whew. The music starts. Lou sheds his jacket, adorns his bald head with a Crossroads shroud much like the ceremony of a minister robing before delivering a sermon. Lou’s sermon starts with a fiery blast of energy, equivalent to a preacher’s heaven and hell brimstone tactics. Except, DJ X-Trio provides the brimstone. The “Africa” track pumps at 125 beats per minute leaving behind the previously afro house tracks at speeds of 120 BPMs. Wait one minute as dancing feet play catch up.
The minister of music delivers an uplifting message of vocals and soul-stirring music form the global unity anthem of Black Coffee featuring Hugh Masekela’s “We Are One,” to the Elements of Life featuring Josh Milan’s optimistic “Children of The World (Dub),” to the old-school gospel-esque Joe Smooth featuring Anthony Thomas’ “The Promised Land.”
Trouble brews. Just like a thief in the night, the enemy sends in a distraction. Here comes Jezebel. She is dressed in a black bustier and black knee high boots. She walks up to the DJ booth to deliver a message to the minister. “Turn down the bass.” Jezebel commands before turning around and walking into a chained cage where the distraction decides to put on a show. Epic fail. This is no burlesque. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
The bass plays “ a whomp, a whomp, a boom” and the music continues. Pop pusher Lana De Rey sounds innocent yet willing singing “Video Games” over an afro house treatment. One of the party’s surprise treats. Some dancers cheer; other dancers are distracted. The beguilement abounds; conversations, laughter, friendly pranks, actor Samuel L. Jackson’s horrible jheri curl wig, Jezebel gyrating in the chained cage and the hotties mounting white horses. The room becomes a circus. Sadly, the music becomes muddled, lost in translation. That is…..
Until DJ Swift’s, of Sugar Groove, laptop driven music set, surprisingly, places the focus back on the music. An on the fly remix of “golden voice” Akram Sedkaoui’s on Jerk House Connection’s “Each and Every Day (Life Goes On), with the bass, middles and highs from Maya Jane Cole’s “Simple Things” brought feet dancing back to the floor. Swift rewinds time playing not one but three Dennis Ferrer’s anthems from yesteryear; Joey Negro presents the Starburst Band’s “Journey to The Sun” (Dennis Ferrer Remix), “Church Lady” and “P 2 Da J.” NYC’s club Shelter knocks on Atlanta’s club Shelter door with Jill Scott’s “Rolling Hills” (Shelter Mix). The 1999 tribal banger, Men From The Nile’s “Watch Them Come” takes the dancers around the world to close the party.
The party had its share of challenges, some expected and others not so expected. Sadly, the venue kills the vibe. No wonder the attendance slacks. Sugar Groove must be at a crossroads. The question begs further growth away from the venue or a slow death at the venue.
Words and photography by AJ Dance
It all started twelve months earlier at a tiny vegetarian organic soul food restaurant on the city’s east edge on a hot humid late August night.Those twenty-five or so in attenDance were the first to taste Tambor’s delight without speculation as to this would be “IT.”Those in attenDance were small in number that understood Tambor was destined to be just another local party thrown by local DJ’s that happened to be local party promoters.Tambor was just another night of deep tribal afro-centered house music.It was just another Saturday night where people went out on the town just to get out of the house, apartment or what have you just because it was a beautiful summer weekend where there was not much sense in wasting a perfectly incredible night; weather wise.
So the few in number stumbled into the restaurant’s basement half-heartily with that been there and done that visage.Even the deep tribal afro-house sounds that played in the restaurant’s basement were nothing new or outstanding.Those songs could be easily downloaded from any of the several underground dance website hosted on the web.Sure, the small crowd danced, sung, hooped and hollered but their behavior wasn’t out of the norm.Also, the night’s local guest DJ that was all too happy to make the guest smile dropped deep infectious house grooves knew deep within his heart there was always room for improvement.Yep, it was just another night.Another one of those nights where not much cash was made at the door and the registers hardly rang with sound.
What was it about this restaurant that housed such local events?Was it the organically grown collards or hand-made cornmeal that drew patrons to the parties?Whatever the reason people were just as likely to sit upstairs and taste the culinary delights rather than to dance downstairs to soulful house.One could easily shrug the night away with looming thoughts of average, predictable or lame.Although expectations were low for the small turnout little did anyone predict this was just the beginning of things to come.
As if overnight Tambor had outgrown its humble roots to become a legendary party.The reason for this occurrence metamorphosed several myths.Some argued people were paid to attend the events.Others believed some self contrived ulterior motive was behind Tambor’s rise.Despite the critic’s skeptic, no one was able to truly articulate, nor comprehend Tambor’s rise to fame.
No one dared dream Tambor would grow on such a colossal scale.But it happened.And despite some minute opposition within the house community many were not disappointed.The Tambor tribe partied hard.The tribesters partied without a worldly care believing such parties had occurred since the dawn of time.No one seemed phased at how long the winning streak was destined to last or when it would end.
Happy One Year Birthday Tambor!
Above photograph by Carlos Bell/Below photographs by John Crooms
Video by Ari Johnson/courtesy of Stan Zeff
Finally, after what seemed an eternity the door slid open to reveal Tambor’s splendor. Those rich house sounds trapped in the basement were allowed to escape captivity. A warm instrumental house track welcomed the small gatherers that made them feel right at home in the dimly lit club. The familiar empty room, that felt like the company of a long lost friend, revealed its spacious dance and foot mobility interior. Filter was a real intimate dance club not one of those trendy restaurant/lounge/bars that pretentiously pretended to be only to have a foldable dance floor stuffed in a back dark corner near the emergency exit.
Peeking atop the DJ equipment in the kiddy-sized box labeled a DJ booth, perched four feet off the ground, was New Jersey’s native Lou Gorbea’s head hidden underneath the shadow of a black baseball cap. Lou, a former dancer, possessed a construction worker’s frame that was all the more pronounced with bulging biceps protruding from a tight plain-white tee neatly tucked in grey camouflage pants that was totally obstructed behind the DJ equipment.
Amazingly, the party was off to a great start as the crowd thickened on the dance floor. The vibe of the room reached heated temperatures as many joined the group of dancers in the basement. Sometime after midnight the floor contained pockets of mass bodies scattered about. Smiles were seen as happy feet pranced to and fro. Even the air smelled fresh, like aqua musk coming from some guy in the room’s corner near the bathroom.
The thick tenor’s voice singing opera style over thick house beats fixated the crowd. House meets opera was a rarity but this collaboration worked. Thank God for the 3 Amigos, Jellybean Benitez, Marlon D, Mena Keys’, “Opera House” who conceived the vision to execute such a hefty interpretation. The exclusive song caused a roar of screams that made feet dance at rates unseen that night.
Unlike most DJ’s who play music for large crowds, Lou had danced with a world renowned New York City dance company. Therefore, his knowledgeable mindset knew what music to play and how to play the music in order to evoke passionate praises from the army of dancers worshipping on the dance floor below. Lou’s musical arsenal contained old school house tunes built around heavy drums and straight up four counts, classic Paradise Garage disco meets new minimalistic synths, driven deep tech house. Where most DJ’s failed by communicating one genre, Lou intertwined all genres to create the night’s musical collage. The play set contained every mind blowing anthem that exploded on the dance floor like brimstone from the heavens. But no one took cover or escaped the downpour. All were too busy enjoying the musical cleansing.
Photography by Carlos J. Bell