Back to Basics

Back to Basics

by Clubplanet
04.28.2006

-Naomi Baria

Two inches of torrential misery came thundering down on New York City Saturday night, but crowds still gathered around outside 150 Varick Street, Club Shelter's new home. At the door, only one line forms. No list, no velvet rope and no cocky attitudes are anywhere in sight. Each and every soggy, huddled body is allowed entry through the narrow entryway and ushered into warm Shelter.

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As soon as my foot reaches the main floor, a wave of heat and moisture nearly levels me. “Finally” by the Kings of Tomorrow is billowing out of the speakers, and a sea of arms stretch towards the sky. “I had a dream my trip would end up at you / And now I know paradise…” Finally.

Scene
The original Club Shelter was founded fifteen years ago by DJ Timmy Regisford on a democratic principle focusing on music, dancing and nothing in between. VIPs, bottle service, and special treatment are foreign entities, and the practice continues in their newest incarnation.

Crowd
Come rain, sleet, or snow, these disciples will not miss a chance to christen Shelter’s new dwelling. No fancy regalia here. Patrons come donning t-shirts, cotton tanks and hoodies to sweat and groove away. It’s not the place to come if you want to ogle eye candy or rub up against scantily-clad strangers. Unless you don’t care what gender they are.

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Music
Upstairs and down, the music is an uplifting torrent of classic and new House, mixed in with a more than generous helping of Soul, Disco and Funk. If you recall the days of Paradise Garage, The Underground Network and Shelter’s last fifteen years, you’re not alone. Everyone in the room knows the words of each and every song, and they’re not afraid to belt them out.

Space
Don’t come here expecting bells and whistles. No aesthetic attention was paid to décor; rather, every decision was guided by utilitarian need. Doubling as Club Standard on off nights, the venue was completely gutted and cleared to create a more dance-conducive environment. The bar is tucked in the far corner and seating, where available, is sparse and restricted to the periphery of the room. During the day, the room is a barren white box with wood floors. At night, its masses radiate with so much heat and energy, the walls drip with sweat.

Overall
Some sort of utopian ideal shelter_body1.jpg
is achieved in the absence of VIP lists, bottle service, and all else we’ve come to expect from nightclubs today. In their fifteen years of promoting a “pure” dance party, Shelter has become more than just a club. It’s kept alive a legacy cemented by a common code and appreciation for music. If a “scene” is what you’re looking for, don’t bother trekking here. But if you’ve been pounding the pavement in search of a great House party, Shelter’s doors are open once again.

For more info visit Club Shelter's website.

Jonesing for some good music without all the frills and hassles of holier-than-thou nightclubs? Here are some other parties that should feed your fix:

IN NEW YORK:

Ain’t Nuthin’ But a House Party
Union Square Ballroom
27 Union Sq W, 212-645-1802.

This (literally) underground party has been going strong for some time now with House legend Jellybean Benitez and friends manning the decks. The event is free (yes, free) with a flyer, so you’ll have enough cab money after you’ve danced your heels off.
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Deep Space (Mondays) and Roots (Wednesdays)
Cielo
18 Little W 12th St, 212-645-5700.

This Meatpacking boite has gone back to the basics, which is why it earned the Best Club and Best Deep House Club honors at the Clubworld awards and in New York Magazine respectively. With an all-star residency including Louie Vega, Kevin Hedge and François K, this party is won’t be stopping anytime soon.

IN LOS ANGELES:

Funky Soul (Saturdays)
Star Shoes
6364 Hollywood Blvd, 323-462-7827.

This night is all about truly rare Funk with Cut Chemist (from Jurassic 5), Miles and Egon presiding. You’ll hear James Brown-era cuts, Breakestra, and things that you have no idea existed. Regular patrons are very loyal and serious about dancing, so be prepared to watch some true B-boys (and girls) in action.

Deep (Sundays)
Vanguard
6021 Hollywood Blvd, 323-463-3331.

By most educated accounts, Marques Wyatt is the pivot of Los Angeles Deep House music. Working in the genre longer than anyone in the area, he was aided and blessed of the first-generation House music father Frankie Knuckles. If an elite Deep House DJ plays in LA, it’s highly unusual that they would set foot somewhere other than Deep.

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Cinespace (Tuesdays)
6356 Hollywood Blvd, 323-817-FILM.

Steve Aoki is unquestionably at the epicenter of the Indie Rock movement. With that title comes a great degree of discontent from the anti-media, anti-national, and super-hipster contingent. No matter. The hottest bands of tomorrow will always play his Tuesday night slam.

Metal Skool (Mondays)
Key Club
9039 Sunset Blvd, 310-274-5800.

Tipping off the week, Metal Skool, an ‘80s hair metal cover band, takes control of the world-famous Key Club. Despite the fact that on any given Monday, the likes of Slash, Scott Weiland, Shavo from System of a Down, or any number of other Rock notables get up and join the band on ‘80s Rock classics, the general vibe of the night is very open and decidedly unpretentious.

IN MIAMI:

The Pawn Shop
1222 NE 2nd Avenue, Downtown, 305-373-3511.

Probably one of the most unique venues in town, The Pawn Shop was just that, a pawn shop until a recent conversion into a lounge and full-out club experience. The staff wisely left all the items in the venue, and yes, you can buy that old 8-track player near the door if you want to. Their biggest nights are the new Detour nights on Fridays, so named since construction of the oft-delayed Performing Arts Center across the street detours traffic towards the club. The music format will please any dance fan, with funky House sounds by Shawn Rudnick and guests such as Sean Miller, Second Sun, Parantula, and many more. Saturdays gravitate to a more open format, but with a definite House flavor by Juan Mejia (aka Fathead) and other guests.

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