me take you on a trip...Just a simple journey...A journey
full of sound and beats. One that will lead you down...way
down...to the underground.”
As any DJ worth his or her weight in vinyl will tell you,
the key to a successful set of music is the journey. Determined
by the selection of records chosen and the order in which
they are played, these carefully orchestrated trips are designed
to lead revelers down any number of paths to various destinations.
It may be just a simple journey, as the above lyrics to Celeda’s
“The Underground” (Star 69 Records) suggest, or
it might be a more advanced excursion full of complex twists
and turns that only the most sophisticated listener might
fully appreciate. Simple or complex, sublime or mundane, it’s
all about the journey.
Junior Vasquez and the MTA
Speaking of dance floor journeys, there was a time not so
long ago when Junior Vasquez reigned supreme as the master
of his domain. While he has already deservedly taken his place
in the history books as one of the most talented and influential
DJ-producers of his time, things just ain’t the same
since Twilo closed back in 2000.
There were generally three distinct sets of music during
one of Junior’s after-hours parties. He’d usually
begin with a few hours of relentless and often harsh instrumental
tracks (i.e., noise; “pots-n-pans”). Mid-morning,
he’d segue into an experimental mélange of contemporary
anthems and works- in-progress, before eventually rewarding
his diehard fans who lasted into the afternoon by unleashing
an exquisite medley of classics — diva, Motown and otherwise.
Now fast forward to Junior’s “Green” party
at Roxy on Sunday of Columbus Day Weekend. Singer Vivian Green
may have been a no-show, but RKM carried the theme beautifully
by transforming the vapid venue with their trademark trippy
installation of neon decorations.
While enjoying a late afternoon cocktail with a friend and
reflecting on the music thus far, we somehow managed to work
the subway into the conversation and found it to be the perfect
metaphor to describe Junior’s illustrious career.
Although Junior’s journeys at Twilo, Arena and Sound
Factory were always interesting and full of surprises, they
were fairly steady: One could generally gauge when each of
the three above-referenced sets would be played. Think of
hopping on the 1/9 train at South Ferry, switching to the
2/3 express at Chambers, crossing the platform at 42nd for
the local, and getting off, fully satisfied, at 50th Street.
Sure, there may have been a slight delay along the way, and
the trains might have been a little overcrowded and rowdy
at times, but for the most part, it was a reliable ride.
Post-Twilo Junior, however, seems to prefer taking more complicated
routes full of detours and diversions — kind of like
finding out the South Ferry station is closed due to construction,
so you walk to Rector to catch the 1/9 train. On board pan-handlers
singing for pocket change annoy passengers. Then you wait
for what seems like forever at Chambers for the 2/3 express,
before finally hitting a pleasant stride as you make your
way north. But then you get held just before 42nd Street due
to a sick passenger and/or police investigation. Eventually
you make it a few more stops without incident before the whole
frustrating cycle starts all over again.
That’s not to say I didn’t have fun. But as one
astute (and entirely sober) friend pointed out, Junior’s
music and style is still incredibly interesting — just
perhaps not quite as enjoyable as in the past.
Peter Rauhofer, Britney and the Gap
As if I weren’t already going to end up spending enough
time in the confines of the Roxy this past holiday weekend
(total hours logged: 12), I just couldn’t resist checking
out Peter’s Madonnathon on Saturday night.
I did enjoy hearing his exclusive new mixes of “Nobody
Knows Me” (loved it!); “Nothing Fails” (unremarkable;
deserves another listen); and Britney’s new single featuring
Madonna, “The Music Against Me” (also undecided),
as well as past goodies like “Impressive Instant,”
“Nothing Really Matters,” “Where’s
the Party,” and one of my all-time favorites, “Secret”
(Junior’s version, no less — but why in heaven’s
name would Peter punctuate this most tasty tune with a snippet
of Kermit the Frog’s “It’s Not Easy Being
I could have, however, done without Raphaella’s re-enactment
of Madonna’s Gap commercial (complete with unidentified
Missy Elliott look-alike). While Peter’s “Into
the Hollywood Groove” musical fusion sounded great,
there’s just something rather unsettling about a supposedly
world-class NYC nightclub essentially pitching moderately
priced casual clothing. Where were the corduroy handouts?
And that fleeting “Bedtime Story” teaser certainly
left me wanting more. But at least Peter supplanted it (one
of my all-time favorite songs) with his lovely remix of Annie
Lenox’s “1,000 Beautiful Things,” which
quickly eased my disappointment. It was also great to unexpectedly
run into friends, like the effervescent “Nurse”
Christine from Philly who is always good for a few laughs,
not to mention introductions to handsome men like DJ Hector
DJ DeMarko sails the Hudson
One of New York’s most underexposed DJs, DeMarko isn’t
used to people actually dancing during his vigorous, uplifting
sets — at least not legally. You can catch this great
talent weekly on Friday nights at g bar,
but since g (inexplicably, like so many others) doesn’t
hold one of those elusive cabaret licenses, you’ll have
to stand still no matter how exhilarating the music might
be. So I was quite delighted to learn that DeMarko would be
spinning one of the summer’s final Sea Teas in late
Out on the open seas, it seems that many of those ridiculous
rules just melt away. Not only were we able to dance freely,
but we were also treated to an incredibly erotic striptease
by one of gay porn’s “biggest” stars, Matthew
Rush. What started out as a relatively innocuous g-string-clad
spectacle culminated with a fully aroused and fully accessible
salute to Lady Liberty as the Queen of Hearts trudged back
down the Hudson River to Pier 40. Now that’s entertainment!
But getting back to DeMarko, any chance someone can offer
this recent Eclipse Atlanta and Q Texas cover boy a prime
gig here in the city with an appropriately licensed dance
floor? We deserve it!
Crobar’s moved its opening (yet again) back to November
21. Still no word on what nights) will be gay, how Victor
Calderone will fit in (Saturday nights, please!), or who else
might join the coveted roster.
Will Junior succeed in convincing Roxy’s owner to bring
him on full time for a weekly Sunday morning after-hours party,
if that’s still even what he wants anymore? He’s
only confirmed for Halloween and New Year’s Eve parties
so far. If the weekly Roxy gig happens, will John Blair and
stick around? Stay tuned for further updates.
Until next time — Be Smart. Be Safe. Be Yourself.