After hours

The rising pulse of Boston’s house-music beat
By MICHAEL FREEDBERG  |  January 17, 2007

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HOLINESS: When your body is being so severely slammed, tickled, dazzled, lifted up, you don’t notice the DJ’s mix points.

House music — that surprise descendant of disco and of so many other, older rhythm styles — is big in Boston and becoming bigger very fast. So let’s cut right to the chase and take you into a couple of house’s power stations to see what’s going on . . .

Scene 1 | Rise Club, 306 Stuart Street, Boston | September 9 | 3:30 am | DJ Victor Calderone — said to be Madonna’s fave — is at the decks. The floor is packed. The room is steamy with sweat, windowless, DARK. Calderone sits at his mixboard tweaking, blasting, screaming the voiceless electronic music at his dancers . . . deep, edgy, BOOMING beats that drive into dancers like a wall of football linemen turned into sexy sexpots. On and on goes the beat, loud and slamming to a pause as the dancers — frantic, exhausted — catch their breaths. Then bang! — the beat resumes and so do the dancers. Bodybuilder guys stripped to the waist move singly or in groups through Latino couples dressed chic; the beat goes ballistic; hands raised, cheering, cheering. At 5:30 am the beats are still banging.

Scene 2 | Outside Club Rumor, 100 Warrenton Street, Boston | December 15 | 11 pm | DJ Greg Pic has invited me to see him spin, but I’m late. DJ Manolo — no longer living in Boston but still a local fave — is the main attraction, and he’s about to go on. The line is long, very long, all the way up Warrenton Street to where it bends right. Everyone is dressed to kill. People are singing, some are dancing — the beats can be heard right through the walls. An hour passes and we’re still waiting, some of us. Then the doormen announce that Rumor is full, no one else gets in until somebody leaves. The line is still long — for every person who has already gotten in, two more now wait. No one seems to mind; the weather is gentle, the music is not.

Scene 3 | Rise | October 16 | 2 am | DJ Luca Ricci, from Naples, is spinning a five-hour marathon. The music is what fans call “minimal,” just hard-edged, thick beat tracks with electronic sparkles and fireworks atop. Sometimes the sparkles flare out; sometimes the beat stops and the sparkles carry the load till the beat slams back in. The room is not quite full, so the dancers are moving freely, this way and that. They do not stop. Many are stripped to the waist, but they’re not as muscle-bound as the guys who came to Calderone’s night. Among them dance Italian-looking gals, dark-haired and dressed in Milan-style club clothes: fashion first, clothes as fiery as the electronica. Ricci mixes from track to track so seamlessly, only a close look will catch the mix point, but who’s noticing? When your body is being so severely slammed, tickled, dazzled, lifted up? By 5:30 am the whole room is cheering.

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