By Brad Lopez
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Inkoo Kang
By Dave Herrerra
By Josiah M. Hesse
By Britt Chester
By Noah Hubbell
During his reunion with Keoki, "I could see he was no longer happy," Franconi notes. "So one night when he was at the club, I hired three movers to come over and pack up his house. And then I told Keoki, 'Okay, I'm leaving. Here's your plane ticket. You're coming to Denver.'" Keoki did as ordered; he was in the Mile High City by the end of the week, joined shortly thereafter by a scandal-plagued Alig. The three subsequently came up with Disco 2000 II, an event that debuted at Club Synergy in the fall of 1996, with DJ Keoki behind the boards. The huge popular response that greeted the extravaganza gave Franconi the promotional clout he enjoys to this day--and Playscool, which bowed a year later, has only enhanced his reputation. "Keoki opened it up for us on the first night," he says. "We'd advertised it with these test-tube fliers that really told the scene that we wanted to do something different.
"The music industry moves across the country from east to west, bringing with it new ideas," he goes on. "It starts in New York and eventually reaches the opposite coast. And I wanted to help bring that to Denver--to give the kids something interesting to do, something they wouldn't mind taking their wallets out to participate in."
The energy that radiates from Playscool has everything to do with the age of the audience, Franconi believes. "The 21-and-up crowd isn't always into the music," he says. "They're looking for drink specials. But the kids--they're here for the environment we create and to dance their asses off, because they love the music."
Such sounds mainly appeal on a physical level, not an intellectual one. DJ Ty Tek, Playscool's main resident, concentrates on a hyper mix of house and trance that rarely contains prominent singing or meaningful lyrics, thereby providing the ideal backdrop for the preening and trendiness exhibited by the crowd. Franconi praises Tek and the rotating crew of fresh jocks for testing the limits of Tracks' state-of-the-art sound system. "The most important thing is to turn these kids on to music that they might not normally hear...that really happy Chicago house sound that just blows up all over." Other flavors are distributed to patrons in two different areas within Playscool. "If you don't like the house or trance room, you can check out the jungle room," he says. "And if that doesn't get you, you can go to the retro room." This last space, a concession to twentysomethings and regressing teens that's located in an extensive two-story addition, is frequently as packed as the main dance floor. "There are more retro kids than there are jungle kids," Franconi admits.
With Playscool running smoothly, Franconi is branching out with a variety of other projects. Under the umbrella of Superstar Productions, he oversees an impressive Web site (www.superstarproductions.com) and manages acts such as Gear Whore, Cirrus and Keoki, whom he's trying to convince to settle in Denver on a more permanent basis. (Right now Keoki is living in Hollywood, where he's working on remixes with Perry Farrell and Daniel Ash.) Franconi has also just launched Majik, an after-hours sequel to Playscool at Club Amsterdam that underlines his commitment to his adopted hometown. "I think Denver is a beautiful city, and I want to bring what New York City has to Denver--to show people what is possible," he says. "This is where I want to stay, and I want it to match up to what I've seen on the East Coast."
Local parents may not be cheered by this announcement--especially those who are disturbed by their sons' lipstick and hot pants and their daughters' fondness for midriffs that would make Cher blush. But Franconi sees their fears as misplaced. He's proud of Playscool and confident that the lessons he's teaching will last a lifetime. "The people growing up now have a history with dance culture," he says. "They know it because we gave it to them, and now they're going to take it wherever it needs to go in the future."
Playscool, with DJ Ty Tek. 9 p.m. Thursdays, Tracks 2000, 2975 Fox Street, $6, 303-654-9148.