by Brent Crampton
Wow. Last weekend in Omaha was insane. Two record-breaking nights in a row ...
:::: Friday @ Black & Yellow Gunk ::::
First off on Friday, Gunk at The Waiting Room was at capacity by 11:30 p.m. — maybe even before that. There was a line all the way to the corner of Military Avenue when I walked up at 10:15 p.m. I figured I wasn't even going to attempt to make it in, so I defaulted to Jakes. Later, Nayef Aljuraid said he was on the guest list +2. We headed over there and co-founder and resident Gunk DJ Spence squeezed us like a noodle through the crowd. Someone shouted my name and then I saw a friend grab onto the back of my shirt. We slipped inside just as one of the door security was yelling at the crowd, "We're all sold out, everyone needs to leave!"
Inside, what I saw was a record-breaking night for Gunk. A sense of delight and unexpected chaos sustained the party. The energy was the highest I've seen in there. If you've ever been to a Gunk, you'll know that the dance floor isn't the first choice for dancing — it's the stage. And that thing looked akin to a booze cruise swaying back and forth in a sea of beats. The stage was a beacon of bursting, unrelenting and occasionally unrhythmic jolts of late-teen/post-teen pent up sexual frustrations/desires, along with ravishing body revolutions.
As I stood there, a steadfast buoy in the center of commotion taking pictures, it was at that exact point that I think Gunk hit a tipping point.
"With the rise of a great party can also come its demise," says Spence over the phone in reflection of Friday night's events. "We need to instill into these young kids that they need to have respect for the venue and the people throwing the parties."
Huh, reminds me of the same problem GOO had when they were an all ages party at Slowdown.
"When it reaches capacity, we have to tell everyone outside to leave because otherwise they just all hang out and there's a neighbor lady who gets a kick out of calling the cops on The Waiting Room," says Kobrakyle, Gunk founder and DJ.
When I was let into the party, the door security was telling people outside to leave. But later when I was home, I got a text from a friend at 12:43 a.m. that said Gunk was emptying out fast.
For a rock show, this would be alright. They're usually a three-or-so-hour show, and they end before the bar is legally supposed to close. Once you've sold out, it's over. But great DJ events are programmed to be taken from the beginning to the very end of a night with plenty of time for people to come and go. Some people show up at 9:30 and some at 12:30. The show goes right up until the lights go up and last call is long gone, and still you try to squeeze in just one more track without pissing off the bartenders.
The ideal situation for when capacity is hit is to be able to tell people, "We're at capacity, so one-in-one out or come back in 45 minutes." But it turns out, The Waiting Room had no other choice. "After last weekend, we're trying to figure out the best solution," says Kobrakyle. "Do we charge a higher cover? Change the age limit?"
Some good ol' growing pains.
Nonetheless, most everyone walked away with a sense of excitement, encouragement and awe in what happened. But little did I know that what happened at Gunk was a forecast for what would occur the next night ...
:::: Saturday @ loom ::::
While our first-Thursday loom events at España in Benson can only hold so many, we like to do occasional big blow-out events on the weekend at larger-capacity venues. We've had some great success with this, but Saturday's loom Weaves Brasil's Carnaval event at Nomad Lounge was the largest event we've had in five years of throwing loom parties.
A repeat of the previous night's events seemed to be unfolding the same way at Nomad, albeit a different medium. By 9 p.m., the place was the ripest I've ever seen it. By 10:15 there was a big line that its height extended to Aroma's. By 11:30 we were at capacity. Truth be told, we got lucky with having an inexperienced door guy who didn't so much do a one-in-one out, but more of a slow-down-the-line-to-a-crawl approach that kept the place jammed all night.
As for me, I got into the booth at 9:15. About 45 minutes later I thought to myself, "I should slip away to take a piss." Ignoring that, I didn't emerge from a immaculate swirling colored dream until 2:15 a.m., and then proceeded to run for a toilet past piles of varying "Where's the after party?" chit-chat.
What happened in between? Just check the amazing photos by Daniel Muller. (He also shot the breakdancer at the top of the page.)
But loom wasn't without venue woes, as well. Getting a drink was nearly impossible and there were a few things on the administrative side that shouldn't have been a problem. But who knew we'd have a crow that was nearly twice what I projected? That leaves us to ask, were the stars just perfectly aligned this weekend, or is Omaha's dance music scene experiencing some growing pains? It's too soon to say for me, but to create sustainability, it's important to be grateful, keep a level head and implement actions from learned mistakes.
:::: This Saturday with Nerdtron ::::
While at Gunk, I had an incredible conversation with Nerdtron founder, Cay Combs, aka Kid Dynamite. He's got a party this Saturday called The Nerdtron Slumber Party: An 8-Bit Dream. In the last year or so, Combs has created an entirely new dance scene in Omaha. The music genre selection ranges from 8-bit chiptunes, hardcore, hardstyle, trance, d'n'b and as you can guess from the name, it's made up mostly of self-professed nerds.
"Nerdtron is made for nerds by nerds, and everyone in our mind has nerd aspects about them," Combs says. "Nowadays, the nerd term greatly transcends through all genres and social groups."
While there's definitely truth to that last statement, the most exciting part of Nerdtron can be found for the nerd-nerds. "Nerdtron is for those who have never felt like they were apart of something," Combs says. "Those who felt they could never go to prom or go to the popular kid's events."
As Combs was explaining to me the social message of his party, I couldn't help but think back to the early days of disco. Back in the '70s and early '80s, disco was a social tugboat that brought gay pride out of the closest and into mainstream consciousness. The underground clubs and parties, such as Larry Levan's Paradise Garage, David Mancuso's The Loft or Nicky Siano's The Gallery, gave a refuge to people who otherwise in their daily routines of work and family had to be anything but who they actually felt they were. But in those spaces, it was perhaps the first time in their lives they were able to freely express themselves ... So imagine the release you'd have on the dance floor?
See, the best parties always provide an answer to a social problem. If people are to dance like there's no tomorrow, there has to be a social ill that you're now providing a cure for. And Nerdtron provides a community-minded space for people who've felt out of place for probably a good chunk of their lives.
"Our slogan is "N3V3R S4Y D1E," Combs says. "Thirty-year percent of all introverted teens and adults have either contemplated, considered or attempted suicide. Of those, 9 percent succeeded."
To combat that, "We created something called The Nerdtron family which is a group of DJs, artists, designers, promoters, dancers and tons of other professions that are also mentors and big brothers/sisters for our younger attendees," Combs says.
But apart from this, Combs relays that Nerdtron is "a festival of life" and that they "aim to be 100 percent inclusive." So whether you find that bit of inner nerd in you or not, be sure to check out their party this Saturday.
P.S. According to his Facebook RSVPs, Combs is expecting his biggest turnout yet. I'll reach out to him next week to see how it turns out.
:::: Events of Note ::::
Yoga and DJ are now mutually exclusive in Omaha, thanks to the Lotus House of Yoga. They've been doing weekly DJ-fueled yoga classes, mostly via N.E.R.D. But now they're taking it a step further by inviting Boston DJ Hyfi, who travels the country DJing yoga classes, workshops and related events. Who knew that was a niche?
"Come infuse your yoga practice with a dose of ecstatic bliss as DJ Hyfi carries us to a deeper place while we ride the sonic wave," says the Facebook invite.
There will be an upbeat Saturday "Amp Your Asana" session from 6:30-8:30 pm, and a "Down Tempo Flow" on Sunday from 12:230-2 p.m. Check here for more info.
DJ Diatribes & Dandies is a weekly column written by Omaha promoter & DJ, Brent Crampton, exploring the electronic dance music & DJ-related culture in his city. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.