Gone Clubbin' at Debaser: Blunts and Broads in Dive Bars
When I arrived at the 90's hip-hop-focused party around 11 p.m., the night's popularity was evidenced in full by the lack of flannel and Converse, and the all apparent "going-out" digs sported by the bar's fresh-faced ladies. These weren't regulars, but they were having a blast. One of Debaser's DJs/promoters, Jamie Jams even told me, "I really don't know any of these people. This is a totally different crowd. It's weird."
Unfamiliar faces are the sign of a club taking off, however. After braving the masses outside, we made it inside to where the real cluster-fuck was happening. Maneuvering from the door to any part of The Knockout's dark recesses was impossible, to the point that it was easier to travel via the dancefloor, where people were expecting to get their elbows bumped. I took shelter in the DJ booth on stage and was immediately greeted with a 40 oz. of St. Ide's and a blunt while Skee-Lo's "I Wish" blared in my eardrums and the dancefloor went bananas before my eyes.
DJs Jamie Jams, Emdee, and Stab Master Arson (a.k.a. Chris Brennan) stayed true to their tastes throughout the night, sticking to the music they loved growing up instead of what was popular on the radio. The easiest route with any throw-back night is to play to the lowest common denominator--being Tupac, Biggie, Dre, and Snoop in this case. Instead, the DJs opted to play more lyrical favorites like De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and Gang Starr. The sweaty throng seemed to enjoy those conscious jams, but dancefloor really lit up, with flailing hands in the air, the moment "Jump Around" dropped, proving people also love the dirty rap classics of Onyx, ODB, and House of Pain.Debaser's setlist lacked a few choice hits in my book, but I also left before the bar closed. I'd hoped to hear Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise," "Rumpshaker" by Wreckx-N-Effect, and something (anything!) from GZA's Liquid Swords masterpiece. Even without my personal selections, the night remained a cheap (you can sip on a St. Ide's 40 for a very long time), entertaining (anyone remember the impromptu shirtless hype-man?), and interesting (someone's middle-aged mother was going nuts on the dancefloor, not to
mention the serious O.G. contingent that was present), a refreshing change of pace from Debaser's usual dedication to '90s alternative rock hits.