On the first Saturday of each month, in one of the least likely venues in town, a couple of indie rockers are doing their damnedest to bring dance back into the DIY mix by subverting the doctrinaire ethos and playlists of most dance music parties.
This Saturday, May 3, the New Wave Hookers crew presents their fourth themed party -- "Red Light Discotheque: Greed Is Good," both a celebration and send-up of '80s greed -- down the stairs at Jeff's Bucket Shop at 1601 Montford St.
Although New Wave Hookers use a rotating roster of local DJs, two central figures -- George Brazil (aka Ryan Miller) and Christian.Ryan -- both play in indie rock outfits: Brazil (as Miller) plays keys in Black Congo NC, and Ryan's in the band citation : obsolete. While the dance party goal is always to get asses moving, they reject the homogeneity of drum 'n' bass or electro-only scenes; even when they dip into '70s dance music, they opt for the funkier Arthur Russell or Sylvester over Saturday Night Fever disco sheen.
"We play re-mixes of electro, but we still play a lot of indie rock and dance punk," says Brazil, who cites the eclecticism of Charlotte's Mother's Milk parties as an inspiration. "We'll play anything; if there's a party jam that just happens to be from Africa in the 1970s, we're going to drop it if it makes people move.
"A lot of DJs are terrified to break formula because they're afraid that people won't get it -- we don't want people to get it. We would rather 80 people walk out the door who don't get it and the 20 that do stay, then go out and tell 20 more people that they know for a fact would also get it."
For this themed party, don't expect to celebrate the Flock of Seagulls or "Come On Eileen" '80s, but rather the seedier side, as Brazil puts it, of "Robert Palmer, Lamborghinis and Wall Street" (that's the Gordon Gecko Wall Street).
Previous parties have included tributes to the early '90s rave scene ("Candy Coated") and a spoof of industrial goth ("The Black Celebration"), featuring everything from glo-sticks to virgin sacrifices. Ryan does live visual mixing, combining self-designed graphics and subversive video clips ranging from soft-porn to foreign commercials. Previous parties have also featured dance-friendly live bands, too, like Asheville's Ear Pwr.
With little in the way of official publicity, their motto -- "If you want to be a hooker, you've got to be a pimp" -- has become a rallying cry for the too-often-overlooked art of DIY promotion that is the foundation of their enterprise. Building on the quarterly Get Bombed parties the New Wave Hookers used to host at the Milestone, the Bucket Shop -- a "sleazy little dive bar" that Brazil used to solo DJ at -- parties have evolved into a hot ticket. (This is the first time they'll be charging a cover -- $5 after 10 p.m.)
"We've had 30-minute lines waiting to get in," Miller says of the 100 (or so) capacity room, "and we're using anything we make to produce future events."
Yauhaus Blues: Due to several recent visits from the po-po and a related noise-violation citation, the Calabi Yau boys have pulled the plug on their living room shows after three years of house parties. According to their MySpace page, "All upcoming shows will be moved but in the future Calabi Yau will continue to bring weirdo exciting bands you've never heard of (and some you have) to town at other venues. Kinnikinnik Records will do the same, albeit in a more goofy, post-hipster sort of way. If anyone has suggestions for free spaces where we can host donations-based shows in Charlotte, please contact us. Besides that, we just happen to be friendly with the existing venues in town so we'll put what we can there. It has been an awesome three years. Thanks to everyone who came out ever ..."
Local Listening: We've been on a self-imposed hiatus at a Buddhist retreat for evil-doers, so didn't get a chance to pimp some recent or upcoming CD releases such as: The Broken Strings' self-titled debut EP, a six-song slab of raw garage blues, which dropped in April, as did Sugar Glyder's first full-length of emo-meets-shoegaze indie, We Cracked the Sky, and Eyes of the Elders' hip-hop gem, Interstellar Rubber Karma Holding Cell ... Benji Hughes' A Love Extreme is out on New West June 17 ... The Trouble Walkers debut, Free Cowboy Hat, features 12 tracks of greasy twang rock your parents will definitely not enjoy -- the release party is at Snug Harbor on our nation's birthday.