If you didn’t live it, you read about it, heard about and learned about it. Or you’re lying about it.
These are facts: the amount of people who claim today that they were “at the Warehouse” couldn’t be comfortably seated in the confines of Soldier Field. I wasn’t there because I couldn’t drive (or read, or write, or tie my shoes without making two little bows yet.) But plenty of others claim to be, and their fantasies of a House Music scene that never was would have gone unchallenged were it not for the work of Bill Brewster, Frank Broughton, their seminal book Last Night A DJ Saved My Life and the website that was born from it, DJHistory.com.
All of that is up for grabs now as Brewster has said he’s giving up the website and probably taking it down. From an interview on Ransom Note:
We’re going to take it down. We’re going to take everything down. I know it sounds a bit Maoist to suddenly dispense with everything but we’ve been doing it for a long time, it’s been amazing doing it and we’ve had fun. But, to Frank and me, it feels like we spend so much of our time faffing around doing bits and bobs for LowLife and the festival and DJ History which we’ve never earned much money from, I mean any money we make we put straight back in, that we actually don’t have time to do other things that we might like to do. Even though we may not know what those things are yet. I think the reason that we want to just trash everything and burn it to the ground, even though we are still best mates and we’ll still do stuff, but it will allow us to do other things and the other stuff is stopping us from doing that.
It was exactly ten years ago this month that Czarina and I were pasting together the first issue of 5 Magazine. There were lots of mileposts that got us from Issue 0 to Issue 119, but we never would have driven the car out of the garage without the roadmaps provided by Last Night A DJ Saved My Life and DJHistory. They were absolutely indispensable for cutting through much of the bullshit that surrounded early Chicago House Music and the pioneers who for the most part had fled the bad deals and bad vibes of the city by the time my day came around. Doug Brandt – once a DJ, once a pizza entrepreneur and then our first columnist – swore the book as a kind of bible for dance music, which is something that sounded much more exotic then than it does today.
It was a few years later that Quentin Harris told us in an interview that the problem with the House Music scene in New York specifically but the world generally is that “the old heads don’t want to teach and the young ones don’t want to learn.” Some people read half of that statement and got offended, but it was true at the time. Now it’s not. Now Masters At Work can embark on an anniversary tour and pull in a crowd that reads like the side of a Milton Bradley board game: Ages 8 to 88. The hippest of North Side hipsters in Chicago itself – people who profess to love disco but not the leading demographic that listens to it – now at least put on the impression that they make it down to the Chosen Few Picnic, even if you mysteriously never see them there.
My griping aside (occupational hazard!), what I mean to say is that the dance music scene has changed a lot, I think it’s for the better and I think you owe some of that both directly and indirectly to DJHistory.com. “Each one teach one” is a slogan that all underground movements like to throw about, and Frank and Bill certainly did so. And gave those of us who didn’t live the past somewhere to learn about it.