The other river rave

Soul Clap and Marz bring life to the banks
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  June 16, 2009

VIDEO: Chris Faraone interviews Soul Clap

When heads deserted the Chinatown-warehouse rave scene in the late '90s, the house loyalists from Soul Clap and Marz Entertainment were still cracking glow sticks. And when everybody else's taste morphed from Lollapalooza to the HORDE Festival through the Warped Tour and Rock the Bells, Eli Goldstein and Charlie Levine (of Soul Clap) and Sergio Santos and Randy Deshaies (of Marz) — who are joint culprits behind the world-famous summer-long Dancing on the Charles (DOTC) riots on the Cambridge waterfront that return this Saturday — dug themselves deep into the international techno underworld.

Now, 15 years after Beverly Hills 90210 embarrassed rave culture into oblivion, the DOTC crew are honored to host homecomings for, as Charlie puts it, "the 25-to-35-year-old crowd that still loves partying, and still loves dancing, but hates going to lame clubs in downtown Boston, and doesn't wear Armani shoes." Eli and Charlie don't spite anyone who burnt out on Special K and abandoned them; instead, the DOTC DJ-promoter hybrids are thrilled that alterna-flocks are once again drawn to deep sounds and elusive hoedowns. They've been waiting, their needles sharp, their speakers cranked.

"It might seem like it [the rave scene] disappeared," says Eli, "but if you really think about it, you still have 16-year-olds wearing big pants and fluorescent bracelets." Charlie: "That scene might have just vanished into thin air, but you have to think about electro — which is basically anything that happened because of Daft Punk and Justice — and the legions of hipsters that came in the wake of that. It's completely disconnected to what we do — musically, theme-wise, historically, and there's a tremendous age difference. But because it became so popular, it allowed us to have a point through which we could communicate and through which they [outsiders] could understand what we do."

Exactly what it is that Soul Clap do is slightly complicated. In boogie-prone metropolises worldwide, Eli and Charlie are highly propped house DJs and producers; over the past three years, they've cut more than a dozen projects on six labels. In Boston, they're primarily known for their two-years-running Midweek Techno jams at Phoenix Landing, where nothing but avant-garde underground product rotates on their decks. The Central Square staple is the only recurring Wednesday party of its kind in the country, and that — along with Soul Clap's reputation — enables them to lure such headliners as Dixon and Nick Curly at bargain rates between dates in New York and Montreal.

As music fiends first and foremost, the guys from Marz and Soul Clap love nothing more than instigating sweat parades on their own terms. It wasn't always the case that they got paid to break subterranean gems over large masses. Before starting Midweek Techno and DOTC, Charlie and Eli were themselves enslaved by mediocre-nightclub standards. "We just got tired of all that venue bullshit," says Charlie. Eli: "Being a DJ is all about connecting with the crowd. And in order to connect with those crowds, you have to play the cheesiest music for the lowest common denominator."

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