Whether he’s spinning for trance heads or punk-rock kids, the DJ’s imperative is the same everywhere: “It entails making everyone shake their ass all night long, non-stop,” says Paper’s resident DJ, ERIC MARCELINO. His red-hot club night sells out Harpers Ferry each week, with the result that soon, perhaps this week even, the night will move to a bigger space. “We get four to five hundred people each week, it sells out at 11 pm, and then people have to wait in line. That’s what happens.”
The party’s acceleration has been remarkable: in just three months it has become the best, if not only, club for the 18-plus crowd. Credit in part Marcelino’s broad taste in club cuts. “I play everything from indie to electro,” he said backstage before opening for TOMMIE SUNSHINE last week. “ ’80s new wave, ’90s throwback tracks, Baltimore club, some baile funk. Whatever you gotta do to get the kids rollin’.” Marcelino met the Paper crew through his hardcore band Sex Positions. “I came the first night here, everyone going nuts on the dance floor, and they were like, ‘Yo, we’re going to make you the resident; every Thursday we want you to be here,’ and I was like, ‘All right, sweet, I like this.’ ”
Marcelino was partly inspired by the old Start! night — the last 18-plus party to become a Boston legend. “Gibby [Miller, Start! founder] was my roommate, and I used to watch him beat-match in his room to horrible German electro. At the time I thought it was horrible, I used to make fun of it. But now I actually appreciate what he was doing.” Marcelino doesn’t pose as a beat-matching DJ — he jumps from tempo to tempo and genre to genre — but the hundreds of clubbers who pack the dance floor move right along with him.
It’s remarkable to witness. “When we were thinking about it, the only person that came to mind was Eric,” says Paper co-founder ERIC PERINI. “He knows how to play to an audience. It’s not getting them to like the music, it’s getting people to dance to the music. Dropping the Smiths and then dropping Wu-Tang Clan, and when you hear a crowd screaming one track after another, you’re like, ‘Dude, this dude’s killing it.’ ” “That’s what you gotta do,” adds Marcelino. “Kids here have no clue about Baltimore club music or baile funk, so you got to mix that shit into your set, and after a few weeks they’re putting their hands up in the air, they’re going nuts, they’re having a blast. I don’t want to just play that Faint remix or that Bloc Party track. I want these kids to know what’s going on in Baltimore, in New York, and in Philly.” He mentions Spank Rock, Diplo, and other genre blenders all in the same breath. “You’ve got to give them that taste, and once they’ve had it, they’ll come back for more.”