¡WEPA! Top Party for 2012

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¡WEPA! just celebrated its anniversary – a testament to how great this gathering is.  If dance were my religion, I would subscribe to the movement of house, scouring to find underground temples the way Coptic Christians climb mountains to worship.  Thanks to Joann Jimenez and Antonio Ocasio I know that the last Friday of every month will end in good vibrations, even better than anything The Beach Boys were singing about.  ¡WEPA! preserves the best of what is glorious about the New York underground dance scene.  Someone pass the baby powder!

To read more about the ¡WEPA! experience, click http://famenycmagazine.com/2012/02/10/friday-night-in-el-barrio/.

Photos courtesy of Joann Jimenez and Antonio Ocasio

Friday Night in El Barrio

My earliest memories of people gathering together to enjoy good vibes and good music was probably the tenement parties I witnessed as a small child.  Now blotchy memories – more sensations than recollections – my brain paints pictures of water colored visions, a grill cooking hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken, the smoke rising as high as the project buildings, hip folks passing joints and sipping on drinks in brown paper bags,  elders talking, people playing cards and dancing.  As I think about those images, what resonates the most is the feeling – a feeling that settled into my tiny soul only to be resurrected at certain times.  That was my first taste of going out – a sip if you will.  As I got older the block parties got replaced by house parties.  Small basement settings replaced the open spaces of the courtyard.  Silhouettes of perspiring bodies outlined by blue and red light bulbs created heat and energy while folks tried not to bump the makeshift DJ booth.

And these reflections are the makings of me and countless others who walk under the beam of the moonlight to enter venues where electric pulses blast out of speakers and open the doors to our souls, where baby powder is sprinkled on the floor to transcend.   These reflections are also the makings of Joann Jimenez and Antonio Ocasio, the life force behind ¡WEPA! a monthly party held at Bar 13, located at 121 University Place.  Both Joann and Antonio are staples on the underground house scene and are New Yorkers from Afro-Latin descent.  With ¡WEPA! they have orchestrated the quintessential homage to their roots.  They are the pied pipers and we are the children of the night happily following them along their musical and visual journey.

The last Friday of every month people of various ages and backgrounds venture to the third floor of Bar 13 and enter into an entire universe to itself – a time capsule of classic and contemporary.  Flags and myriad articles of clothing hang on a line, cigars are rolled for a quick excursion to smoke on the rooftop, live percussionists, artists and visuals are mixed in with the best in Afro-Latin rhythms to create the spiciest soul session fit for consumption today.

Jimi Hendrix asked the question, “Have you ever been experienced?”  Well, I can now say I have, but what would be more appropriate would be to say that I’ve been re-experienced.  I’m an old dinosaur that vividly remembers the golden era of nightclubbing in New York City.  Nothing like the water-downed, table service driven parties of today, the ¡WEPA! experience evokes the spirit of old NYC nightlife with a vengeance.  Under one roof are elders, circle dancers, prancers and people just enjoying the scenery.  The amalgamation of the intimate party vibe and laid back fun from the block injects ¡WEPA!  with a dose of freedom and community, the likes of which I haven’t felt in ages – it is the very essence of home.

Everyone knows the expression, “Thank God it’s Friday!”  Well, I would like to revise that antiquated sentiment and say, “Thank God for final Fridays!”  ¡WEPA! turns every final Friday into a holiday – a blithe fete that culminates the end of each month.  Without at doubt, it’s the best $15 party in the Big Apple (RSVP to muzikbutrfly@gmail.com to receive the reduced price of $10).

 

 

 

 

But don’t just take my word for it FAMERS take a look for yourself by clicking, www.wepanyc.com or www.youtube.com/wepanyc.

Photos and video courtesy of Joann Jimenez and Antonio Ocasio

The Roots of House Music Are Alive at Cielo

Wednesday has been considered “hump day” ever since the 40 hour work week was invented.  But for those of us who live to rejoice under strobe lights while the sounds of House music filters from the speakers and fills the atmosphere, Wednesday has taken on another moniker.  Wednesday is a night that is all about Roots.

One of my greatest moments while working as the Entertainment and Lifestyle editor at Caribbean Posh Magazine was interviewing Louie Vega and his wife Anane.  Louie is one of the architects of House music and a living legend.  His DJing and mixes have provided the soundtrack to my life and many other house heads’ lives around the world, and have been responsible for baby powder residue littering the floors of many venues. 

For those of us who live and breathe this music and culture, it is more of a creed than a lifestyle choice.  When I wrote my article about the Grammy winning DJ/producer, I dubbed him an archbishop because that is simply what he is.  Every leader must have a home base and in New York City Louie’s resident house is Cielo, located on 18 Little West 12th Street in the Meatpacking District.  The weekly Wednesday night party known as Roots is the seed of Louie Vega and Kevin Hedge of Blaze, another House music legend and high priest in his own right.  During its six years, quite an epic feat for an underground party, the stems of Roots have grown to become one of New York City’s staple parties.

Because House music is so engrained in the fiber of their beings, Louie Vega and Kevin Hedge provide the patrons of Cielo with sermons that are sure to guarantee a perspiration drenched t-shirt, aching bodies and refreshed souls.  When Louie is traveling, Kevin holds the party down solo.  Even Anane and Antonello Coghe (Nulu Music) spin on occasion. 

House music is not a genre readily found on top 40 FM.  It does not sell out arena sized venues and because it does not appeal to the masses, the future of my culture and its music is always in a precarious state.  Parties like Roots ensure that New York City, the cradle of House Music, will continue to have a voice as the underground dance scene moves into the next decade of the new millennium.

 Photos:  F.A.M.E NYC Editor

Welcome To Her World

The Chinese New Year predicts 2010 to be the Year of Tiger, which brings about the chance for big change and prosperity.   One half of House music’s royal couple is taking this prediction to heart as she released her new album “Anane’s World” on Nervous Records February 16.

Anane performing at Club Ceilo, NYC

“Anane’s World” is an eclectic journey into the musical mind and talent of this Cape Verdean singer, songwriter, producer and DJ.  Yes, Anane can do it all, the proof is evidently clear with this album.  From the first track to the last, Anane provides her listeners with different flavors on each track.  Each song is a new introduction, a new facet showcasing the many influences that have shaped her as an artist. 

“Walking on Thin Ice” is a grooving remake to Yoko Ono’s classic; her sexy vocals offer balance to the guitar riffs and electro-techy beats and pays wonderful homage to an already wonderful song.   Her sultry vocals and the composition of “Ben Ma Mi” have an awesome chillastic vibe and automatically sweeps you to a destination where sandy beaches and umbrella drinks are all that matter.  “Bigger than Life” is a hip-swinging, vogue posing, whacking kind of track that is sure to get drinks down and booties on the floor.  “My Sexy Way” is a funky track that makes head bobbing and body touching a must. 

The cover of Donna Summer’s timeless “Love To Love You Baby” has all the erotic sexiness and funk as the original.  It is very difficult to replicate a song that has stood the test of time.  Music has a life of its own and people attach themselves to songs like they attach themselves to emotions.  Featuring fashion icon Roberto Cavalli, Anane’s version breathes new life into this disco classic and makes the song her own.  “Let’s Get High (Life Love Music)” is an up tempo House track made for all baby powder toting, footwork specialists.

Louie and Anane Vega

Anane could easily rest on her laurels as a model and the wife of legendary producer and DJ Louie Vega, but the music inside her soul refuses to stay dormant.  Taking all the fierceness of a tigress, Anane has set a blazing schedule for herself, as she brings “Anane’s World” on tour throughout the U.S. and abroad.  Since January, Anane has played dates in San Francisco, LA, Las Vegas, Chicago, Toronto, NYC and Italy.  In March, she will visit Miami, Morocco, Paris, London and Geneva.  “Anane’s World” is a pick for F.A.M.E NYC and provides a proper entry into the world of House music for any Househead, dance music enthusiast or novice. To download “Anane’s World” visit, http://www.traxsource.com/index.phpact=show&fc=tpage&cr=titles&cv=48414.

 Photos: D. Austin of G Studios

Cielo Opens Its Doors To Help Haiti

As stated in my previous post Help for Haiti, I will report about events going on in the city that are helping raise much needed aid for the Haitian earthquake relief.  Today one of the Meat Packing District’s hottest clubs is opening its doors for an event that is any dancer’s wet t-shirt dream.  Club Cielo, located on 18 Little West 12th Street, is hosting Song, Dance & Love for Haiti.

This event is organized by Joann Jimenez, Jephté Guillaume and Antonio Ocasio and features some of the most legendary DJs and Producers of house music as well as some of NYC’s most talented underground DJs.  Each hour the audience will move, shake, gyrate and produce its best baby powdered foot work to sets spinned by Jellybean Benetiz, Louie Vega, Danny Krivit, Joaquin “Joe” Claussell, Francois K, Josh Milan and Sabine Blazin.

The event is from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. with proceeds being donated to Doctors without Borders in Haiti, $20 is the suggested donation.  The combination of Club Cielo and the line up of DJs signifies an event of epic proportions.  Dance…dance…dance is the theme for this gloomy Sunday.  Before manic Monday morning comes, I suggest all FAMERS get out the house and shake a tail feather for a good cause.

To learn more about Doctors without Borders please visit www.doctorswithoutborders.org.

Barbara Tucker: 25 Years In House Top Event for 2009

To me, house music is not just a genre of music; it is my religion, my culture – essentially a way of life.  House music and the culture it inspires is one of the last underground cultures to be born out of NYC.  Unfortunately the decline of parties and venues that truly support my culture have forced us to revolve in lounges that focus more on what your bar tab is at the end of the night than the vibe, the music and the amount of sweat that is dripped on the dance floor. 

It seems funny to think that the city that spawned my culture is now placing a stranglehold on us – forcing us to adapt or to fade to black.  It is a conversation I have had with many househeads – the chase for the experience we once had that seems to be beyond the grasp of our fingertips, but one we get to touch once in a while.   On March 19th, four decades worth of househeads made the pilgrimage to Webster Hall for Barbara Tucker: 25 Years In House. 

If house music is a religion, then Barbara Tucker would be a saint.  She is definitely one of the divas of our scene.  Her track record of 25 years in house music shows that she is one of the hardest working singers in the business.  Songs like “Beautiful People”, “I Get Lifted”, “Most Precious Love” and “Stop Playing with My Mind” are classics that every househead knows.

The room was filled and space was limited, yet it didn’t seem to matter.  Wherever there was space, househeads were getting it in, contributing to the beautiful vibe that was in Webster Hall that evening.   Seeing Saint Barbara on stage singing her classics made me feel as if I was 17 again, when I was first started venturing into different clubs in Jersey.   The incomparable Louie Vega, David Morales and Tony Humphries fed us the energy to dance well into the next morning and provided a memory that will be looked upon with fondness as we party into the next decade.  Besides the music, the highlight of the evening for me was watching La India and Barbara on stage with Louie Vega behind the DJ booth.  Watching the players behind “Beautiful People” on stage exceeded all my expectations for an evening that will be talked about for years to come.  In fact, people that attended the event were still talking about March 19th well into the summer of 2009.

Barbara Tucker: 25 Years In House offered memories for us to cradle in our hands, keeping us loyal to this culture.  Paradise Garage, Sound Factory Bar, Afterlife, Zanzibar, Club Shelter – all the major clubs that reigned in the NYC area was represented.  We danced and shared experiences with househeads that haven’t been seen in years.  It was a long overdue family reunion filled with love, music, dance and good energy – it was a househead’s dream.