Disco lives!

Color at the Milky Way, plus Berlin in Boston
By DAVID DAY  |  May 29, 2007

Joseph Colbourne

Hard to get to but wonderful to visit, Jamaica Plain is one of the secret jewels in the Boston crown. The Milky Way is the community’s largest venue, and this Friday it initiates a new dance night and idea. Focused on rare disco and everything that surrounds it, COLOR will rock the first Friday of each month at the beloved bowling lanes and lounge. “I really wanted to do a new dance night for all the people that live here,” says BEN SISTO, the booking and promotions manager at the Hyde Square institution. “Something that would be representational and non-alienating to people in JP.”

Sisto called on old friend and local DJ disco king JOSEPH COLBOURNE to helm the music selection. The two were the driving force behind the myth-making Dynasty nights at the Milky Way and Great Scott, and Circuits met with both of them in succession at the Milky Way bar downstairs. “Joseph is one of the more quirky and different DJs that I know,” says Sisto. “When we stopped doing Dynasty together, he basically said that I didn’t know anything about music and I told him that he didn’t know how to mix. And we parted ways. And over the years, two things happened: Joseph got really good at mixing and I learned to appreciate more-underground funk and boogie. We both grew up a bit, and we decided it would be fun to do a night again.”

“When I was with Dynasty, I was just starting to figure out what it means to be a DJ — I didn’t even have my own turntables,” Colbourne says minutes later. “Then I was really into left-field dance music, post-punk, no wave. But by researching that music and understanding its roots, I became enamored of disco and funk, all the way through early house music.”

Since then, Colbourne has played New York City regularly, spreading his knowledge of boogie and disco to the hipster masses. He recently returned from a live DJ session for Viva Radio that was recorded at an American Apparel store in Williamsburg. Talking to him is like talking to a disco librarian. “I focus on a lot of the classic dance music that was championed by DJs like Larry Levan, Ron Hardy, Frankie Knuckles, Nicky Siano. The big hits of that time that were coming out on West End, Prelude, and Salsoul, plus artists and musicians who had one-offs that were fantastic. It’s a whole œuvre of music — it’s not just bands, it’s also producers, mixers, singers. Philly disco, New York garage disco, electro-disco, and Eurodisco — Giorgio Moroder types, Cerrone, Gino Soccio.”

Both Sisto and Colbourne emphasize that this kind of music has fans from all spectra (gay, hip, old, young) and that it’s built for one thing, dancing. Colbourne: “There hasn’t been a night quite like this in Boston since, well, disco was popular. So this is a new thing. A lot of people have mentioned that it’s an opportunity. People are excited to hear the music.” Sisto: “I want it to be as much a place where ideas and relationships are fostered as a dance party.” Colbourne: “People want to socialize for different reasons — for many different reasons.” He laughs. “But they are also excited to hear the music because there isn’t a chance to hear this in town.”

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Related: Sisto act 2, Honeypump, 2002–2006, Playlist: July 6, 2007, More more >
  Topics: New England Music News , Entertainment, Music, Dance,  More more >
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