Going on its 20th year in 2011, Boom Boom Room can probably make the boast of being THE longest House music residency in the world. And combining the fact that it resides in the birthplace of House Music, this stands as a testament to what a remarkable institution this party is. With the beautiful Green Dolphin as its backdrop, Boom Boom Room is once again seeing the return of its long lost head honcho from the ’90s: Byrd Bardot.
You may know Byrd as the affable, funny and very likeable person who first greets you at the door. What you may not know is the history he has with club culture over the last few decades and how he has seen the legendary night mutate, transform, evolve, at times devolve and come back full circle. With Byrd taking over operations one week ago, he shares with us a little bit of the night’s history as well as his vision for bringing the focus back to Chicago.
Can you give us a brief rundown on the history of Boom Boom Room? Who were the original founders and cast of this legendary night?
In 1991 a wonderful, funny and shady (in a good kind of way) guy had a dream. His name was “HiFi Bangalore” and to some, he was known as Jack Walls. He pulled together an odd group of people made up of a few straight guys, a handful of silly queens and two of the most beautiful transsexuals in Chicago.
That group was The Menettis, Richard Glass, B.Kamp, Malone, me, La Nancy & the infamous Mimi Marks! If I left anyone out, I’m sorry! It was the ’90s after all…
I was gagging on the phone about some of the stories you told me about how it was back then. What are some of your fondest memories?
Well, ya have to remember Wicker Park was not the way it is now! I was a host but I also did the door. So, there I was sitting out there in the alley next to an open red door. At 10pm, I was sitting out there with prostitutes, junkies and a panhandler all around me. (I had made friends with most of them too!)
My favorites were two transsexuals named Chris and Sandy. They wore roller skates! Yep, roller skates, fur coats and bra and panties underneath. Ya know the parking lot across the alley from the door of Red Dog? They would do figure 8’s and stuff to kill time before they’d go and turn tricks on North Avenue!
Boom Boom Room has been going through major changes throughout its almost 20 years. I know the era of the superstar DJ has been upon us for the last decade or so. What is your take on that and what are your plans with the new and improved Boom Boom Room?
Superstar status DJs are wonderful, talented and very exciting! But for Boom it’s reached its peak. If we do have a Chicago Superstar DJ, they would really have to perhaps dirty up their program a little. We need to embrace our sound if it’s gonna survive.
In the first ten years in which I ran and watched over Boom, it was established to be a Chicago showcase! It has always amazed me especially now how we have Chicago DJs who are in so much demand in other countries but can’t get a booking here in their own hometown! And I think that is also the case for many many other DJs in other US cities!
What does House mean to you?
Hmmm… That’s a wonderful question! House means many things to many people. But to me, House is not just a sound. Its a subculture and sometimes a lifestyle. To me, House is something that is felt, whether its because of the sound or the vibe it gives a person. But more importantly to me, House is like when you’re home on a Sunday afternoon. Everybody is fussing, fighting, laughing and eating. You don’t have to put on airs ’cause you’re around those that you love and that love you back. Yep, House to me is like at being home! And of course, there’s always that crazy Aunt Tilly asking ya to pass the peas and to tell ya all about your kids…
You have been fondly labeled “Door Whore” – how long have you been working the door and what were some of the clubs and parties you worked for? What is it that draws you to this job?
Well, without counting (and it’s only because of how the years are set that I can honestly say this) – four decades! My very first job was as a teen and it was my very first time in a nightclub. I met two men named Steve Rubell & Ian Schrager. Steve just came up to me and loved me, Ian hated me! Steve thought it would be “wild” to have me work at their club that night. I had never worked in a club nor had I even been in one. (Studio) 54 gave me life for a brief moment.
After that I knew that somehow, in some way, I was both blessed and cursed. I’ve never looked back and I’ve always been hired by owners! I was one of many editors for Project X Magazine (magazine of the infamous club kid Michael Alig). I’ve done doors for clubs, lofts, warehouses, outlaw parties and sometimes I’ve found myself doing a door to a back alley!
I seem to retire a lot, but something or someone always pulls me right back into the thick of it all. I was blessed to be asked to return to Boom a few years ago. I’ve also been privileged to meet so many wonderful kids.
And if ya really wish for a listing of some of the places I’ve been able to work at here in Chicago…. Limelight, Shelter, Karma, Crobar, Green Dolphin, Cairo, Vortex, Circuit, Red Dog, Transit etc. etc, etc. Oh! And Boom Boom Room of course!
Can you tell us what to expect when we walk in the door this Monday?
Well, ya know it’s now 2011. And, it’s time to evolve Boom once again! It’s time to return it to what it was in the beginning: a showcase of Chicago! The sounds of “House”, the industry, and especially those kids looking for that special place in which they too can feel comfortable, accepted, and mixed along with us veterans of the movement, with a special focus on those sounds & vibes we love… House!
Boom Boom Room currently has as its residents Michael Serafini and Uncle Milty, with special guest Mazi on Jan. 10th and Jamie 3:26 on Jan. 17th. Stay tuned for more updates! Also if you join the Boom Boom Room Facebook group you are on the permanent guest list +1.