There was something in the air this past weekend in Charleston. You could feel it. The weather was perfect. The temperature was right at the 80 degree mark. The skies were partly cloudy. I guess those are the perfect conditions for whatever energy is used to bring a city to life. Charleston was bustling with activity. There was the College of Charleston’s “Charleston Affair” event, there was a Food Truck Rodeo in the Post and Courier parking lot, and a bunch of Cinco de Mayo events. (Just to name three of the many that I’m actively thinking about.) If you went out to any one of these events, I’m sure you’d have a blast. I mean, they look like they were all good times. However, that night, something went down that I feel spoke volumes for Charleston’s nightlife.
The radio station theFix.fm planned a launch party for May 3rd at Tivoli. (If you are not familiar with The Fix, then get familiar with it. You’ll be hearing about it a lot more around the Charleston area. I also do a show on it every Thursday evening at 8pm EST.) Tivoli is a an industrial art space. It’s on the upper King section of Charleston across the street from the Recovery Room and next door to Butcher and Bee. It’s not the most underground of places, but it’s not the norm when you think of Charleston nightlife. This party featured local acts Susto, Johnny Delaware, and Lily Slay of the Royal Tinfoil. After they were finished, PartyDad (Land of the Good Groove) and I were dropping tracks.
The night started off well. All the musicians did a great job and it was a real experience for a few people. A good friend of mine never went to any sort of “underground” parties and thought that the whole setup was just great. He loved it! All he could keep talking about was just how cool it was to have an event where he could just listen to music and just chill. (He thought the artist booths were actually part of the event, but it just so happens that the artist spaces had their works still in them.) People were really digging the event.
When 11pm rolled around, the night changed to something I haven’t seen in Charleston in a very long time. People began to party.
I’m sure you read that and thought, “People party all the time in Charleston. Just go to any club or venue in town and you’ll see everyone throwing their hands up and stumbling around drunk.” This is true. You will see people drunkenly dance around in a variety of locales in Charleston. One thing that will also be prominent is this: You will also see cliques and clienteles.
Every time I talk to friends and folks about going out. The conversations always turn to labeling and segmenting the nightlife of Charleston. Common phrases that I hear closely resemble, “I don’t want to go to club XYZ because they play techno.” “Isn’t Bar ABC a hipster bar?” “All the DJ’s play Top 40 in the market bars I don’t want to hear that.” “Can we go to the market area? All the DJ’s play whatever the flavor of the week artist is.” This is not a bad thing in itself. It’s just, I’ve come to notice that we pretty much all begin to label things to become comfortable with them and forget about trying to open ourselves to new experiences. I ultimately believe human’s are cliquish in nature, if not, we wouldn’t have societies. But I’m digressing from my point.
The Fix.fm launch party turned into the purist form of nightlife. It was a perfect union of dancer and DJ. From 11pm to about 4am people from all walks of Charleston got down to what PartyDad and I had to offer. No one complained, no one got out of hand, and most of all, there was not a single obnoxious drunken request for a song that evening. (Ask any of your DJ friends if they’ve done a 5 hour set and not have had one request. I bet you get a low number.) PartyDad pointed out that this party was “one of the most punk rock parties he has ever played in Charleston.” (I’m pretty sure that was the exact quote but if you’re reading this PartyDad, speak up in the comments if I got it wrong.) He was right, this was one of the most punk events that has happened in Charleston in a while. The greatest thing was that there was no pretentiousness on the dance floor. There were no labels. Old was dancing with young. Hipsters were dancing with preps. The straight folks were dancing with gay folks. The cool kids were dancing with the strange kids. The well dressed guys in suits were dancing with the pierced and tattooed girls in flannel. When I say dancing, I mean just that. There wasn’t girls twerking it up or dudes trying to show off. Everyone was dancing with everyone. Everyone was just having a great time.
The party ended with a Junior Cortez edit of Queen’s – Radio Gaga. PartyDad, Fix.fm station engineer Brad Cooper, and I were standing behind the decks arms raised with fists in the air while the remaining partiers did the same. I couldn’t help but to be reminded of Queen’s video for this song. The lyrics reminded me of the reasons why we need radio for entertainment in the first place. But we need radio to be the way that it was meant to be. All we hear is crap on the radio. That song was the perfect way to end an event for a radio station that is giving back to the community and supporting local artists and DJs.
I wrote this because I knew that the Charleston City Paper and the Post and Courier weren’t going to write a review of this party. I don’t believe out of the couple hundred folks that passed through those doors that any one of them were from any local publications. And you know what, that’s cool. A bunch of kids throwing a party isn’t “news worthy.” I get that. But what happened on the inside of that party really was. It reinforces that there still is a need for people to listen to just great music without any BS from corporations. The Fix.fm, still within it’s infancy, is fulfilling this need and will continue to be at the forefront of these underground movements.