The Gathering turns 10
Staple DJs celebrate a legacy of house music
Just like age, time ain't nothing but a number. It's the legacy that we celebrate. When Ramon Rawsoul hits the decks February 7, alongside DJ and producer Kai Alcé, the celebration will be as much about the Gathering turning 10 as it is the event's contributions to Atlanta's house music scene. "If there was no Gathering, there would be no House In the Park," Rawsoul says of the beloved party that drew thousands to Grant Park for Labor Day weekend 2014.
Clubs and club nights come and go. It's a significant feat that the Gathering has hung in there for a decade, especially considering that not too long ago, Atlanta wasn't known for house music. The Gathering helped change that through a commitment to the music, and helping to launch House in the Park, attracting a much wider audience than house music typically draws.
While the Gathering was built on the backs of its two residents, guest DJs such as this weekend's headliner, Chicago's Jamie 326, are occasionally brought in to heighten intensity on the dance floor.
Ramon and Alcé teamed up during the heyday of Deep at MJQ, one of Atlanta's first major house music nights. The Gathering was born as a late-night warehouse party years before the city's current circuit of must-attend club nights such as Tambor at Apache Café and Sunday School at Studio No. 7 were delivering house, rare groove, and international sounds as diverse as their attendees. "Ever since the end of Deep at MJQ, it left room for the monthly parties to gain more of an identity," Alcé says.
Now, the Gathering and other recurring house music events coexist creating a smorgasbord that draws attention from around the country. Such abundance is rare in other cities, even those with a weightier house music heritage such as Chicago and New York.
With the Gathering downstairs, and hip-hop playing upstairs at Speakeasy courtesy of Boom Bap Saturdays, opportunities for exposing more people to house becomes even greater. "The musical programming is very important to me," says Keiran Neely, longtime Atlanta house music DJ and owner of the Music Room and Speakeasy.
Neely aims to make the Music Room known for a quality dance floor experience, and the Gathering's intimate vibe fits the bill. So does the mid-sized room, which was a missing piece for dance floors throughout the city.
The Gathering is a place where people can get "enveloped in the music," says Karin Smoot who coordinates House in the Park. But Alcé puts it in more visual terms: "It gives you that feel of the 'Good Times' painting."
Indeed, some of the lyrics to the TV show's theme music are familiar refrains from Rawsoul. "None of us are getting rich off this," he says.
No one said legacy comes cheap. But with the continued tenacity of house music DJs and promoters, and a crowd ready to dance, there's much to gain. Atlanta's reputation for an unparalleled house music scene is only growing as events coexist and move beyond the Gathering. A legacy of longevity and progress is worth the price.