Electric dance club brings back disco fever

art+by+Theresa+Whang

art by Theresa Whang

Avantika Khatri

art by Theresa Whang
Dubstep reverberated through the small space, bodies swayed to the grimy music and arms flailed with the music’s beat. Such was senior Jordon McGaughey’s first experience at Dirty Disco Dance Party, two days after her 18th birthday.
McGaughey went with a small group of people who also recently turned 18. The age restriction for Dirty Disco is 18, making the excursion a new experience for the group. At $7 for 18 and over and free for 21 and over, McGaughey returned several more times to Dirty Disco for the excitement she found her first night there.
“It was small, and it’s just a really crazy environment where you just go crazy while you’re dancing and have a really great time with friends,” McGaughey said. “It’s a completely different atmosphere. … Most of the people don’t know each other, so you’re going there with a couple of friends, and no one else matters.”
Dirty Disco began January 2010, when Eastside Tavern owner Sal Nuccio and co-founders of Dirty Disco Adam Boisclair, also known as D.J. Bwaha, and Leroy Lee wanted a place for their friends to let loose every week. Two weeks later Dirty Disco held its first event. Lee, in an email interview, said the first “night was rather directionless.” But after experimenting, Dirty Disco grew into what it is now.
“A typical night would be around 11. There’s a long line outside with people waiting to get in, and inside the place is packed with really loud music – you have to yell to hear the person next to you – everyone is dancing; some people get on the stage and dance,” senior Ali Pemberton said. “If you imagine a dance club in a movie, it’s pretty close to that, just not as glamorous.”
An addition of the photo booth added to the glamour, and Lee said people can feel comfortable being themselves and “feel like a local celebrity” while also not being judged for being “different.” Along with the photo booth, Lee said theme nights are common features of well-organized club nights in bigger cities. Both became characteristic of Dirty Disco. Past themes have included a “shade’s rave,” valentine’s ball, fourth of July ‘merica party, Moombahton (sub-genre of electronic music), back to school, throwback, London calling, blackout, headdress, masquerade, Halloween and renegade.
“My favorite was the Halloween theme night, but that’s also the only theme night I’ve been to,” Pemberton said. “Almost everyone was in costume, which was awesome because Halloween is my favorite holiday; they also had a live singer and costume contest.”
Because the D.J.s create the music, the music varies each week. Lee said he creates setlists mostly from his own preferences, which are constantly changing. Always on the lookout for new music, he uses anything that makes him “want to get up out of my chair and start dancing in my living room.” Lee is a full-time graduate student, so much of his remaining time goes into promoting and sustaining Dirty Disco.
“I barely have time to fully prepare my mixes, so most of what you hear at Dirty Disco is completely done on-the-fly,” Lee said. “DJing is actually a lot funner that way.”
Pemberton said Dirty Disco is also more of a dance club than a bar, a place for people who just want to dance. The dancing niche brings Dirty Disco a great number of attendees under 21. Many other clubs in Columbia are only for 21 and over, and there are few public dance scenes for those under 21. For many high school students, the only other options are homecoming and courtwarming.
Dirty Disco is “kind of like a dance, except there aren’t lame people on the wall that aren’t dancing; everyone’s dancing, and the ages have more range in the people that are there,” Pemberton said. “There’s great dancing music, a live D.J. and people there just to have fun.”
A place for people to let loose and dance, Dirty Disco embraces people for dressing in crazy outfits for the theme nights. Lee said it’s a place where anyone can dance and go wild without judgment Dirty Disco.“We get people from all walks of life, and that’s a great feeling,” Lee said. “There’s no such thing as ‘fitting in’ at Dirty Disco, because really, no one fits at Dirty Disco.”
By Avantika Khatri