Denver DJ Erin Stereo likes to see the club packed with booty-shakers willing to strut their stuff and dance like no one is watching. On Saturday, November 12, she'll unfurl the first edition of the Everybody’s Free dance party, hitting the floor at 9 p.m. at Grandma’s House on South Broadway. The mixmaster and producer of Everybody’s Free will be joined behind the decks by DJ DogBoy of Mile High Soul Club fame and recent Denver transplant DJ Soulrane, who will be spinning the best breakbeats, house music, disco and more. In advance of the shindig, Westword talked with Erin Stereo about the motive and the message behind this inclusive dance party.
Westword: More than just a dance party, Everybody's Free has a mission behind it. Can you talk a little about that?
Erin Stereo: This whole dance party is inspired by DIY dance culture — not only of my youth in the '90s, but also of the house-music scene in the late '70s and early '80s. I'm inspired by that because at that time, not everyone was allowed to go into the disco. These warehouse parties were born from that, and it was the only place where many who were considered "outsiders" were free to be themselves. I want to re-create an environment like that, where people can feel safe to explore their movement and explore music and be free from a predatory, judgmental space that you might find [elsewhere].
The first thing that came to my mind when I saw the flier for your dance party was the early-'90s freestyle anthem "Everybody's Free," by Rozalla. Is that indicative at all of the styles of music you'll be playing?
Absolutely. And that song is a huge inspiration to me as well, because in my opinion, it's one of the best dance songs of all time. It also has a positive message: It's about community and togetherness and freedom. The song says "Everybody's free to feel good," and that is very much a layer of inspiration for this dance party. It's not just everybody; it's for everybody's body, you know what I mean? Whether you're a really skilled dancer or not so much, whoever you are, you should feel free to feel good. The song indicates the type of feel-good dance music that we're going for.
The song itself has been giving me goosebumps for twenty years, and I want that song to go into people's heads — I want them to have the feeling that everybody is free and relate it to the dance party, you know what I mean? I want the feeling of the song to be the feeling of the dance party.
In a world where we're Instagramming and Snapchatting every move we make, I think the idea of personal freedom when it comes to something as simple as how you choose to move on a dance floor is pretty radical. We're not always "free to feel good," even when we may be projecting that notion in the social-media public space.
Yes! I think a lot of people have that fear, especially people who feel like maybe they aren't good at dancing. But you never learn if you never take a chance, and you can't take a chance if it isn't a safe place. That's why I've been trying to encourage people of all skill levels, styles, shapes, sizes and shyness levels to come out. I want it to be safe for whatever your level and participation and comfort is.
When choosing your DJ companions for this first edition of the dance party, what were you looking for?
The headliner of the show, DJ Soulrane, is one of my greatest inspirations and mentors. Part of the reason is his music selection...how do I say this eloquently? He inspires me with his dedication to digging for quality music. He's a DJ for B-Boy competitions, so his whole life is dancing and deejaying, and he lives and breathes this culture. That's a reason why I chose him: He has a foot on the dance floor and a foot in the DJ booth, and I think that makes for an incredible DJ. Same for DJ DogBoy, too.
As DJs who are also dancers, we understand how it feels to be on the dance floor. We're not relegated to the little tiny booth, that little square of safe space. I think our connection to dancing is what is going to make this more than just your average dance party. We DJs have the blood of the old school pumping through our veins — we love music. There are a lot of DJs out there who download the Beatport Top 100, pick music that is all in the same tempo, and they just play that all night. We as DJs are true music lovers and curators of music, not just choosing songs that are 128 beats per minute to play all night long. There is an exploration in the music, and I hope there is an exploration in the movement from attendees, too.
Is this the first party you've produced as a DJ?
Yes. I used to produce an electronic burlesque show called Burlectronic, but this will be my first fully produced, booked and performed event. I saw a lot of things this summer that inspired me to improve — I saw some pretty boring electronic stages at festivals and stuff like that, and I felt really inspired to offer an alternative to that kind of "techno," the unrelatable, droning, substance-less techno. That's a big reason I decided to do my own thing. I applied to a festival this summer that I didn't make it onto, but then when I saw the stage there, I thought, you know what? I don't even belong here. Whoever didn't book me on this festival was right. It motivated me to offer something different on the dance floor.
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Bree Davies is a multimedia journalist, artist advocate and community organizer born and raised in Denver. Rooted in the world of Do-It-Yourself arts and music, Davies co-founded Titwrench experimental music festival, is host of the local music and comedy show Sounds on 29th on CPT12 Colorado Public Television and is creator and host of the civic and social issue-focused podcast, Hello? Denver? Are You Still There? Her work is centered on a passionate advocacy for all ages, accessible, inclusive, non-commercial and autonomous DIY art spaces and music venues in Denver.