There are two kinds of people this holiday season: those who lament their post-gifting financial straits and the current geopolitical cluster-fuck while questioning whether “auld” acquaintance should be forgot, and those who still wanna party like it’s 1999. The latter route will more likely ensure that “Happy New Year!” isn’t the loudest thing you scream that night. And remember: If you don’t spike the nog, the terrorists win. It’s true.
The latter half of 2002 found many of Detroit’s DJ culture promoters getting back to the bread ’n’ butter of loft parties, random one-off club nights and barroom weeklies. Now the music is refined chaos, it’s anarchy in the clubs, and panties are flying everywhere. Well, maybe that’s next year’s Detroit.
Local promotions mercenary, nightlife philosopher and Blackbx Productions founder, Jon Ozias (aka Jonny O), is trying something new for the ’03. After recently ending his Friday weekly at Lush in Hamtramck, Ozias intends to build on the “don’t dream it, be it” vibe that made The Fix this fall’s most intelligently randy way to kick off the weekend. Starting January 11, Untitled will take place every Saturday night at the Shelter, featuring resident DJs Derek Plaslaiko, Mike Servito, Tadd Mullinix and Matthew Dear — the latter two representing Ghostly International. Cover is a mere $5.
“Untitled is happening because it needs to happen,” boasts Ozias. “This city is no fun right now. Everyone’s bored. Downtown is overrun with the tackiest of suburbanites filing into the worst clubs to listen to the most horrible music. Mainstream America had some big Ecstasy awakening somewhere around ’99, and we’ve had to deal with its ugly aftermath ever since. Meanwhile, the people who are the true life of this city — the ones that truly understand music, art, fashion and culture — have nowhere to go. We want to give those people a place to call their own. Let all the other clubs claim to bring Miami and New York to Detroit. Fuck that. I want to bring Detroit back to Detroit.”
“The Shelter is raw,” says Ozias. “It’s dark and it has that ‘anything can happen’ feel of a loft party. Its design doesn’t come from gaudy velvet or brushed aluminum. It’s much more minimal and suggestive. Club nights are about voyeurism and exhibitionism. There’s nothing exciting about a room lit up like it’s daylight.”
The free kickoff/preview party is this Thursday (“select complimentary drinks before 11” and all that) with would-be Untitled resident and recent NYC transplant Magda dropping bombs on said Shelter.
“I want to own peoples’ Saturdays and absolutely destroy their Sundays,” crows Ozias. “Fuck ‘back in the day,’ this is about right now. People complain about things not being like they used to, but the biggest thing that’s changed is all of us.”
“We’re hoping to show people that it doesn’t have to be extravagant to be amazing,” adds resident Derek Plaslaiko.
It’s weird that Untitled sounds edgy at all. But in many ways, Detroit remains a city where solid new records elicit approving head nods while familiar party jams rule the floor.
Wow, a night that’s at least trying to be fresh without being sterile. Where are we?
Popping the Corktown
Not to dis the Tigers, but it’s safe to say that the emperor’s new stadium hasn’t kept us from seeing that the team is still booty. That’s OK, though. Local promotions outfit Citypeople has stepped to the plate with a steady barrage of events near Michigan and Trumbull, filling the area’s abandoned Irish sports bars with zero-pretense body music and a boozy clientele — it’s convenient social action from a music-loving drunk’s perspective.
“If you go to any other city, they all have some sort of club district,” says Abbott. “We think Corktown is the perfect area to start. Detroit is back to square one as far as venues, and since the area has been so desolate since the ballpark closed, we see such real potential for it.”
This New Year’s Eve, Citypeople’s Matt Abbott, Shaun Reeves and Matt Danner combine the opposing forces of their Positive Fridays and Negative Tuesdays weekly events at Corktown Tavern and O’Blivions to create their ultimate countdown celebration called, of course, Neutral. The event will feature live sets from Force Inc. recording artist Tomas Jiku, PsiloPolisP (aka Keith Kemp), and John Arnold. DJ sets from Craig Gonzalez, Mike Huckaby, Rick Wade, Mazz, Shaun Reeves, Derrick Fox and Shortround promise a multi-venue mix of hip hop, soul, funk, contemporary minimal house and total debauchery. If Citypeople has its way, 2003 has bad things in store for your liver.
DIY another day
Spontaneity is what keeps this city cool. Thoughtful, intimate events that came together at the last minute have been some of this past year’s best, and many of those have been fleshed out by Sharif Zawideh. From must-attend, announced-day-of funk nights at LJ’s Lounge on Michigan to Legowelt, or Telefon Tel Aviv at Detroit Art Space, Zawideh has consistently kept us guessing, risking his ass in the process. This Christmas night at Detroit Art Space, Zawideh, Brad Hales and Scott Zacharias will help you dance off the fact that your gifts sucked and your family’s insane.
In other under-the-radar holiday news, today Stacey Pullen is announcing an all-night New Year’s Eve party at an undisclosed location. In yet another marathon DJ set, Pullen will take his cultish following through an ebb and flow that’ll make the outside world seem unnecessary — not a bad way to forget 2002.Robert Gorell gets beat crazy for Metro Times. E-mail him at email@example.com