Mama was a pure-bred disco hater. She'd go to a baseball game (and she hated sports almost as much as disco) just to throw a KC record in the bonfire. Another one of her admonitions was, "Beware of songs that specifically command you to dance." Like that Chic song that just says "Dance! Dance! Dance! Daaaaance!" Then for the truly dense, they toss in,"Keep on daaancin' (keep on keep on!)."Heatwave layers in "Got to keep on dancin', keep on dancin'" all subliminal like, but if you think about doing a sly side-step off that lit checkerboard floor to make a break for it, a booming Darth Vader voice comes in with "DO YOU WANNA BOOGIE? BOOGIE BOOGIE NIGHTS!"
Mama was right. There really is no escape from the disco inferno.
The disco haters of the '70s are the same old coots (sorry, Ma) who hate hip-hop and electronic dance music now, which makes those forms all the more appealing for todaysup1s kids. Hip-hop was indeed groundbreaking, but sorry, folks, most electronica and house is simply a continuation of that established genre called "dance." Never mind that some local papers have been hyping an electronic music "revolution" for seven long years now. The steady increase of output can be compared to the tech boom. Talk about hype.Now we all know that the Internet ain't nothin' but a glorified Yellow Pages. This music is like that -- it's good, some is great, but it's not sliced bread. It ain't even the Clapper (hey, what if you played electronic handclaps, like say on a Fat Boys record, in a room that was wired with the Clapper? Strobe City!).
All this is not to say that dance music isn't fun. Dancing is fun, just like eBay is fun. That's why two fellas in the East Bay want to celebrate pop electronica/house/dance music's varied career by starting another DJ night at the Ivy Room in Albany. On "Lift" Wednesdays, we're promised "Intergalactic Beats and Future Funk," with artists like Pepe Deluxe, LTJ Bukem, Crystal Method, Thievery Corporation, Sly & Robbie, and Fantastic Plastic Machine. "It's like dancing in outer space," says Sergio, one of the Lift DJs along with Sean Sullivan (famed for Thursday night's free hoot, Soundboutique, which he hosts with Jacob Tillman).
"We're not entirely sure yet what Lift is going to evolve into," says Sullivan, who started Lift a couple weeks back. "In the early stages of Soundboutique, none of us really knew what it was going to be, and now it's loosely an '80s night with some '70s funk and some other shit." Soundboutique went from being the proverbial "handful of friends" and some woozy Ivy Room regulars to an all-out, spilling-into-the-street, wall-to-wall peeps smorgasbord of flirtin' and dancin'. The Bay Area may be known for lame audience participation, but at Soundbooty nights, everybody's dancing.
Lift night is to be free as well. "We don't take this shit that seriously," says Sullivan. "You don't need to pay an admission to hear some tunes. It's not like a show; we're just playing some records for folks to enjoy. We want to encourage people to stop by, have a drink, get their groove on." So what exactly are they playing?
"We're just going balls-out," says Sullivan. "We're going electro, some good danceable acid jazz.... It's hard to explain, because I hate all these dance music labels."
"Yeah, 'acid jazz' usually means 'sucky.' "
"Yeah, but I mean, this group Syrup, they're an acid jazz group but they sound sort of trip-hop. We're gonna play danceable modern beats."
"Yes," he laughs, "we'll be doin' a little booty clap." And the booty starts making that slappin' sound... "Originally," he muses, "my idea behind [Lift] was that I wanted to play the pop of electronic. Daft Punk, Shirley Bassey and the Propellerheads, Chemical Brothers, Air, Beta Band ... you know, a wide variety. Even stuff like Stereo Total. Fun stuff that's electronic. Fools take electronica too seriously. DJs just play to themselves, because they're so locked into their groove, their sound, that they don't realize that it's boring to play everything that sounds the same. We'll play everything from uptempo trip-hop to jazzy house."
"So whataya think of the electronic revolution?
"Um... I think calculators are definitely good. And you can quote me on that."
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