Tuesday, June 01, 2004

frisky fun

with Derrick Carter ~ Story by BPositive ~ Photos by todd ~ Deep Connection’s club night Frisky, which now takes place every Friday night at Kabal Restaurant & Nightclub, in the River Market of downtown Kansas City, just keeps getting better and better. DeepFix Records has invested years and thousands of their own dollars to cultivate and educate a clientele of House music enthusiasts as well as relationships with some of the US’s best DJs. A symbiotic relationship with the owners/managers of Kabal has been supportive even on less attended nights, allowing the clientele to gradually build and become musically educated enough to support one of the best weekly DJ nights in the central Midwest.

Kabal has invested heavily in its sound system and ventilation system. Consequently, the music nearly intoxicates you when you are close to the speakers. When the music sounds that good, it is free to thrill patrons in ways they’ve never imagined. The extra fans and blasting AC ensure that dancers are comfortable, even when jammed together on the basement space’s smallish dance floor. At Kabal, many regulars come back for more every week, and fresh faces are constantly discovering what all the excitement is about.

DeepFix Records and Kabal have plunged in and gradually increased the frequency and caliber of imported talent coming out to help us get “Frisky.” This willingness to risk bringing in headliners despite some occasional nights of low attendance, combined with some well-thought-out drink specials, has paid off. Frisky, which held down a 18+ Thursday night slot for several months now, recently made a successful move to 21+ and the more expensive and demanding Friday night. At the same time, Kabal finally received the long-awaited 3:00 AM liquor license which required an adjustment time for both staff and clientele alike to get used to the longer hours.

We’re talking some serious vibe in this club when the right DJs are on the decks. Friday nights at Frisky attract a warm and congenial crowd of regulars who are unpretentious and casual. The dance floor gets packed, hands are in the air, bodies are bumping and grinding up against each other, faces are smiling. The best part is when total strangers transcend the usual barriers of society and start talking to anyone who happens to be dancing next to them out of the sheer exuberance of the shared experience. If you stay until the end of the night, often times you are rewarded with the heady thrill of unity as the crowd gives up their love to the DJ in a massive, coordinated, clapping, screaming orgasm. Out-of-town DJs who play here, reportedly beg to come back, saying they just don’t see vibes like that in other cities these days.

DeepFix Records functions as the taste makers, and talent selectors for Frisky Friday nights, using their knowledge of the latest and hottest House producers to identify talented DJs who are within the budget of the club with it’s capacity of maybe 300, at the most. DeepFix Records’s trademark has been educating their audiences with the vinyl mayhem of a string of hot, new up-and-coming House producers.

The “Master” Returns! This particular Friday night, however, it is one of the “masters” of the vinyl trade that is about to make his appearance on the decks, despite a greatly delayed airline flight. Wicked opening sets by local Pat Nice, and Luke Sardello (Dallas) have packed the dance floor and gotten the crowd cheering and jacking their bodies. Luke Sardello’s last record, the one with the distinctive, haunting vocal that sings “I want to look into your eyes again, the windows of your soul,” nearly sent me off the deep end.

Nevertheless, when headliner Derrick Carter (Chicago) finally takes to the decks, fans crowd to the front. As the needle drops on his first record, you know why Mr. Carter is so revered by House music aficionados worldwide. Given this packed floor of sweaty bodies, many of whom have been dancing hard for several hours already, he somehow manages to infuse new energy into the music with that distinctive jacking bass line that only Carter can dish out quite like he does.

A producer with many releases under his belt, as well as talented, globe-trotting DJ, Carter’s ability to take the dance floor on a “journey” is legendary. Any DJ can play records, but it is the rare DJ who has the innate talent that Carter has, as well as the experience that comes with playing to diverse crowds all over the world for 10+ years.

By the middle of his set, Carter has the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand enough to challenge our ears with some harder, more “techy” tracks. A good judgment call, which keeps the music sounding fresh. If anything, the crowd dances even harder.

As I wiggle and bob around my little spot on the crowded dance floor, I reflect that it’s really pretty amazing to be hearing this caliber of music here in my own home town on a weekend night. Only two or three short years ago the only dance music in town was the occasional rave or dance music night on a week night at small bars and clubs with poor sound systems and unsophisticated beverages menus. Now, just about every weekend you can hear a good headliner at Kabal or one of the other local dance clubs. Just another step in bringing the quality of night life found in much larger cities.

As 2:30 am approaches, my heart rate hasn’t been below the aerobic threshold in more than an hour. I start checking my watch, conscious that it will all be over way too soon in order to comply with liquor laws. My dance partner and I have finally found a space large enough to really get our groove on, complete with overhead fan to keep us cool. It feels like Carter is physically pulling our hips in and out and inducing our legs to criss and cross in rhythm to the beat. I am so “in the zone” that I gracefully hug friends as they walk by and dodge those who want to cut across the dance floor, all without skipping a beat. It doesn’t get any better than this (except maybe with a little more room to dance). When the final strains of Carter’s last record bleeding out of the speakers, the cheering and clapping of the fans almost drown out the sound system.

Though over way too soon, this night, and all the others in recent history, give me hope that Kansas City has finally gotten it’s groove, and that we can all look forward to many more good nights of dancing, thanks to people such as those that run Kabal and DeepFix Records.

For more information about Frisky, you can contact DeepFix Records at their web site, www.deepconnections.com or visit Kabal Restaurant & Nighclub's web site at www.kabalkc.com.

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