DJ Honey Dijon at Rise

Maximum house
By MICHAEL FREEDBURG  |  May 15, 2006

COMPLEAT DJ: Honey Dijon’s Rise set alternated the fast and furious with the soft and sensual.

For house music, you can’t get much more authentic than DJ Honey Dijon. Grew up in Chicago, African-American, transgendered; started dancing at the clubs where house music was being created; became a friend, then protégée, of Frankie Knuckles, the prime originator of the genre. Like Knuckles, Honey Dijon moved to New York in the early ’90s, when many first-generation house-music club kids were becoming second-generation house DJs — Honey too, with encouragement from Knuckles and Danny Tenaglia. She says, “I’d always taken an interest in the records, the songs. I was a record fan as well as a dancer. So when Danny and Frankie told me I should become a DJ — ‘Just do it!” they said — I started hanging out in DJ booths, bought a turntable set, practiced, and soon there I was!” She developed a reputation for fast, fierce sets and started touring clubs all over the world.

Saturday night she came to Boston’s Rise Club. Her dancers were overwhelmingly short-haired white males, many of them body-builder types naked to the waist. The body-builder guys love heavy, harsh, electronically filtered rhythms with scratchy, acid-style vocal overlays, and Honey played to them. Her set started at 3 am and was still going at 5:30, a continuous surge of chugging, booming rhythms artfully phased with rhythmic pianissimo interludes. She quick-cut from one beat to another, overlaying her vocal quotes on the mix points and so distracting (and beguiling) the dancers. Her beats made the dancers stomp, but even more arousing were her vocal quotes, from Eddie Amador’s “House Music,” Crystal Waters’ “100% Pure Love,” and many other anthems. In those pianissimo passages, she digressed from body-builder beats to soft, swooning rhythms with sugary, delicate vocals. Then she made the music rise, toward highly embroidered orchestrations, subtle in their sensuality and irresistible to those who understand house as a spiritual, a soulful, and a body thing.

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