In an effort to ensure I don’t get fat, happy & fundamentalist by only looking at one city and it’s scenes, I’ve decided to start branching out and trying to hit places outside of Gotham where I can see how other cool people do cool things. This weekend, by way of a very dear friend, I was able to check out a sweet, underground electro-swing party in Boston. As I moved past the standard, fist-pumping, lite-beer-swilling, Avicii-spinning (that last one is new) Irish bar the front room of the bar contained, I pondered on eventual fist-fights between party-goers. Wherever my mind was going,by the time I’d checked my coat and paid my tab, It had gotten sidetracked by the Charleston and St. Germain cocktails by Macchu Pisco.
I’d like to say that there was something kitsch about what was happening, or that NYC does/did it better in the 90’s, but I can’t. It was an honest-to-God swing dance party with fun DJs and cool people. Vests, pocket watches, a liberal dollop of fedoras, shiny shoes, fast moving feet, girls spinning like tops and a respectable amount of martini glasses ensured there was no posing or biting in this crowd. The group wasn’t as cocky or flashy as what you’d find at a scene party in Gotham, but people also approached nervous others on the perimeter of the dance floor to ensure they shook their butts to the retro-amazing as well. Something I’ve never seen at a party in NYC, the varsity dancers approaching the JV with a confidence and warmth I didn’t think possible, and I’ve been checking out dance floors since the Clinton years.
There was a warmth and friendliness that came with the event, in addition to period-specific cocktails that were several dollars cheaper than I’d expect to pay for a similar beverage in NYC, and the DJs kept it moving. I arrived when cosinezero was busy creating official rug-cutting music. The swing-amplified bass was exactly what the crowd wanted and after absorbing a cocktail with my date, I gave the dance floor a whirl and was not disappointed. People were friendly, the space allowed for actual partner-dancing, not just the vagaries of grinding, and you got the sense that if you tried something swing’y & flamboyant, you’d be supported.
After seeing cosinezero finish his set, I saw the crowd transition into Defunk. His style was a bit more free than the previous DJ, moving away from the old school swing rhythms in the strictest sense, but using the basslines, the chord work and the tonal structure from those classic and loved retro tunes to push some really fun dance music out into the room. While some of the more old-school swing dance purists turned up their noses for a moment or two, once his grooves set in, people got down, and saw what he was doing and why. There’s a tendency to restrict yourself to the specific samples & beats when it comes to electro-swing, but some people push past that structure, in the same way that Jazz pushed past a lot of the overly-restrictive rules surrounding Dixie when it came into it’s own. The event reminded of that tremendously. Check out the two artists & their soundclouds (below) and chalk one up for Boston really making sure that a scene is regular, organic, and fucking FUN. Sometimes, between the stilts, fire-breathing, 30,000 watts of bass and glitter fireworks, you forget what just inviting a nervous guy or girl to dance, and seeing the smile on their face, can be like.
This is Terry Gotham, see you on the dance floor.