Art on Nantucket and Beyond – originally printed 2012
By Sara Boyce
Do you remember the movie Dirty Dancing when Jennifer Grey’s character, a teenager on a staid family vacation at an Adirondack camp mistakenly wandered into a loud, dark, steamy staff dance party? Step off Nantucket’s cobblestoned path any Saturday (or sometimes Friday) summer night, head over to Pazzo, and you will experience the same contrast.
June through September, The AudioArchitechs rock Saturday nights with their “Common Ground” House Music Dance Parties. Now in their fourth year, Pete Ahern and Billy Desmond are the dynamic duo behind the AudioArchitechs who believe that music and dancing are the great equalizers.
..uh, House Music?
..every Saturday night?
For those of you wondering “What IS House Music?”, think electronic…think more music than words…think familiar songs that have been re-worked…think deep, rhythmic bass. Billy described it simply.“For us, electronic music is music you can dance to…”
In the late 70s, a popular Chicago DJ, Frankie Knuckles, mixed the then-popular dance music (Disco and R & B) with European electronic music at a club called The Warehouse (“The House”). As with anything popular, House Music spun off into many different genres, spread from Chicago’s underground parties and exploded into Europe and beyond. Back then, producers would keep locations secret until the ‘day of’ or print flyers backwards or in code. Now House Music has spread worldwide.PulseRadio.net claims Electronic Dance Music is a billion dollar industry in Brazil ALONE!
Pete and Billy work year-round to produce 3+ months of weekly events. As Pete said, “I work, I have my family, and I do this”. They do it because they love music, and they see a need for it. People want to dance.
The AudioArchitechs host a different DJ at Common Ground every Saturday night, each with their own style and music. The first half of the summer season was held at The Muse; the remaining Saturday nights will be held at Pazzo, which transforms into an intimate, elegant House Party. They are also booked at Town’s outside “Tree Bar” every Wednesday and Thursday night this summer, weather permitting, where the music is a mix of more mellow electronic music. And it’s not just summer anymore. This past winter, they turned Kitty’s into an intimate dance party on Saturdays.
I was impressed to learn how much time it takes to become a strong DJ. How hard can it be? I mean, it’s just getting up there and playing a bunch of songs you like, right?
These guys are searching for new music nightly and practicing. They explained that vinyl is the gold standard, but there are certain advantages to living in the digital age. It’s easier and faster to find good music; computer access to music means no more pouring over albums in record stores. It’s not necessary to buy the whole album to get the ONE great song.
Just seconds later, they turned wistful about vinyl, pointing out that the sound is superior and it’s vinyl that separates the men from the boys. Truly talented DJs work with records and know not only which song will flow into the next song, but can match the beats so the transition is seamless. As Billy said, “It’s everything. It’s picking the music, playing the music, and making it flow. It’s all about matching the beat. It can be very difficult not to make two songs sound like colliding shoes in the dryer.”
Very supportive of emerging DJs, the AudioArchitechs point out how many hours can go into planning just one night out. “The first stage is to get to the point where you feel really confident playing at your house, but it gets tricky on stage.” When I asked why they devote so much time to this effort, their response was immediate, “When you play for a bunch of people and they respond…it’s like a drug… It’s addicting.
Justifiably proud of their work, Billy and Pete assured me that the people who play here are as good as anywhere. We might not have huge dance clubs (thankfully), but the music is top notch. We have a passionate group of DJs who live on island. Many of the DJs the AudioArchitechs bring to the island regularly play at notable clubs around the world, but once they come to Nantucket, they’re hooked. We’re lucky. On Nantucket, Common Ground starts at 10, there are no bouncers behind velvet cords, and there’s always a friendly group of dancers on the floor.
It’s loud. It’s fun. It’s friendly. And it’s three hours of dancing… See you there.
Click above for an AudioArchitechs promotional video.
~ Wednesdays & Thursdays: Town’s (outside) “Tree Bar”, weather permitting
~ Fridays: Pazzo
~ July 13 – Sammy Bananas (Fool’s Gold Records)
~ July 20 – Billy & Pete will be playing
~ August 24 – Billy & Pete will be playing
This article originally appeared in the 9/12/12 edition of Mahon About Town.
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