I’m trying to be all healthy and active and whatnot

I Read A Lot of Internets

from head to toe

Remnants of the admissions stamps from Belvedere's

I always feel weird when I write about the music that I listen to. I know that a lot of people think dance music is all Jersey Shore nonsense, which is just…ignorant. I mean, I don’t really know or care about rock music, but I know that whoever is playing on the radio or on MTV or burning up iTunes isn’t the whole story of the genre, you know?

I guess because I don’t really know who all reads this crap, but I’m certain that a decent portion of the people who do read this site are not really that concerned about dance music. I’m certain about that because it’s a pretty tight-knit group and, yeah, it’s a subculture that’s perfectly happy flying underneath the radar. Most of the time, you probably wouldn’t be able to pick a dance music nerd out of a crowd. But you would only need to overhear a fevered conversation about records or the coordination of a much anticipated vacation to Detroit to realize that they’re an odd little bunch. They have jobs and families and leaky faucets. But on the weekend they have this amazing ability to have fun with absolute abandon.

It’s definitely one of the main things that I have in common with the people that make up my “chosen family.” And our gatherings are always fun, but every once in awhile there’s a night that’s just…legendary.

The husband has this recording of a DJ set by the group The Three Chairs at the Detroit Electronic Music Festival from 2003. I didn’t go that year and listening to that set always makes me wistful. The music, of course, is amazing, but you can hear the crowd going completely berserk. There have been a number of sets that have been epic enough to be placed into the same sentence as that Three Chairs set, and I think ever since then it was the husband’s goal to have one of his own. Saturday night, along with our dear friends Jwan, Frank, and Chris, he accomplished that.

Over 300 people packed themselves into a smoky Belvedere’s and danced and danced and danced. I had positioned myself at the front and every time I looked behind me, the crowd had grown thicker. Eventually, the room was completely full and every single person there was dancing their fool heads off, smiling and laughing and having the best time. The husband, Jwan, Frank, and Chris were on fire, completely ruthless with their track selections, intent on working the room into a frenzy that looked deserving of some holy water.

The lights came on at 2 a.m. but neither the music nor the dancing stopped. The Belvedere’s staff let us go for a little bit longer, but eventually made it clear that they were ready to go home. Our friend Preslav authorized an after party at the Machine Age studios and a decent portion of the 300 people caravanned over there with us.

We packed into the tiny hallway of the studio where the turntables were and the husband, Jwan, Frank, and Chris picked up right where they left off. Drinks kept flowing thanks to a stashed case of IC Light Mango (I don’t know) and a grocery bag full of the odds and ends of someone’s liquor cabinet that they were nice enough to grab on their way over. We kept dancing and laughing and hugging and singing.

As the clock neared 5 in the morning, the party was still going strong, but I began to notice that my neck had had just about enough for one evening. (Honestly, I’m really proud of it for making it as long as it did. That’ll do, neck. That’ll do.) I told the husband that I was fine to stay, but that I was hurting. He wanted to play just one more record. We kept bobbing along as he waited his turn, and I had to pathetically lean on the sister-in-law to give myself some relief.

Then, the husband stepped up and put on this:

Oh, yes he did.

The place erupted as everyone cheered and sang along and I thought, “My god. This is incredible.”

As the husband wrote in his post about the event the other day, Pittsburgh has had a fairly rich history of dance music for years. And I know that that might sound weird, but somehow it just works here. Things were pretty anemic there for awhile, but in the past few years, something has clicked. That there were over 300 people out and dancing for local DJs, not some relatively well-known performer from out of town, is wild. And I can tell you that there is zero pretension involved. For whatever reason, everyone is ready to just go out and have a good time. It’s amazing to witness.

Something is happening here in this city. While we all passed around The List from WaPo declaring Pittsburgh in with a snicker and our tongues in our cheeks, they might really be onto something. It’s fun here and people seem to be realizing that the kind of fun that we like to have, which has been a punchline for so long, is actually a really good time. It’s an opportunity to get lost and forget about everything else for a few hours and realize that, yes…you are beautiful.

2 comments to from head to toe

  • Chris O

    Nice read. both you and tom have a gift with words. It was a blast on saturday. I never expected it to be like that, and I’ll remember it forever.

    I hope your neck gets better soon.


  • Ed

    You know you’ve played a good set to a good crown when you can throw some completely random off-genre track on just for fun and they eat it up instead of looking at you all “WTF?”! If I was playing a long way from home, I used to like to end my sets with Together In Electric Dreams. Total 80’s Moroder Cheeze Dance Pop, and one of my favorites of all time.

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