House finds a home
The pre-Halloween weekend brought treats to the intrepid
This year, those lucky enough to be informed skipped the haunted house for another type of house — the warehouse, full of haunting events. Across the city raw space rang with raw beats. Before everyone was raving about lofts, ravers were breaking into old storage facilities to do some temporary redecorating, and the jackhammering you'd hear for one night only wasn't from some developer's plans, it was a developing subculture.
Now increased mass acceptance — of both the culture and the sometimes unsavory elements that go along with it — has forced promoters to move their endeavors to more safe environments (for good, applaudable reasons). But it's always nice to see DJs return to the scene of the crime.
After all, house music started in a warehouse. The Warehouse, to be exact (no, not the one near Centennial Park). Along with New York City's Paradise Garage, Chicago's Warehouse was the mid-'80s epicenter for the evolution of disco. Somehow what would become for many the new soul music started out as much more artificial than what dancers were accustomed. Frankie Knuckles was one of the first to play tracks that mixed synthesized strings, European-influenced basslines and a 4/4 bass kick.
The idea was to make the music more raw, to get rid of the distractions and make a music meant solely for bringing people together to simply dance. That was the idea this pre-Halloween weekend, when Saturday night the building blocks of DJ culture allowed buildings to once again play host to events stripped of club-culture pretension.
Warehouses from John Wesley Dobbs in the Old Fourth Ward to Murphy Avenue in the West End let complete strangers wander freely. Halloween is the one time of year where someone dressed as a towering Muppet, a man with a ball-gag and another guy wearing only a diaper can huddle around a bonfire or a fire-breathing metal sculpture and no one bats an eye. Cold beer and a cold night seemed in perfect synergy. There was certainly a buzz going round.
The event that best represented the still-beating (but barely) heart of dance culture took place far down Murphy Avenue in an industrial art workspace. If ravers in the early '90s had only had the Internet and Evite, they'd have had a lot easier time finding a good time. But it's kind of sad that with all the technological advances, getting people closer to a positive vibe isn't getting easier.
But this event, "Spellbound," was bewitching. DJs including Eric Zheno and Kemit played deep house for an unfortunately shallow crowd (not as in superficial but rather as in small, at least while I was there). Still, the point was made. Dance culture isn't being demolished. It's still building.
So if you see a flyer (or get an e-mail) with an industrial address you don't recognize, don't risk your neck by any means, but maybe just stick it out a little to see what you find. You might like it. A house isn't a home without people in it.