Normally, I don’t have to try too hard to get exposed to new music. Thanks to hard-working publicists, record labels and musicians, my mailbox and email are usually filled with the latest and greatest. And I make a concerted effort to listen to absolutely everything I receive, at least once. As for local stuff, I can pretty much stumble into any venue in town on almost any night of the week and catch something I haven’t heard before. For a musical omnivore, it’s a pretty good life.
After a while, however, my ears and brain get fatigued and everything starts to sound the same. I get crabby when that happens. For a few brief moments, I might even think I’ve grown to hate music. I entertain thoughts of giving up all this Makeout business. And that’s usually when something sneaks up on me. Last weekend, I got turned on to some great music in a place I’ve never been before – a strip club.
The evening began innocently enough. I met a friend for coffee at Illegal Grounds on 17th. Then we grabbed some dinner up the street at Chada Thai. Our tentative plan was to go from there over to the Lion’s Lair to catch Southerly. That didn’t happen.
As I scooped up my panang curry and my buddy slurped up his pad thai, we drank beers and discussed his previous night’s adventure at Nitro Club in Boulder. Though I’ve previously judged and derided him for frequenting such establishments, something about his stories intrigued me that night. Maybe I was just looking for something new to do on a Friday night. Maybe I was intellectually curious about the social dynamics of such a place. Or maybe – just maybe – I wanted to see some naked women. At any rate, by the time we’d finished our meals and beers, I’d decided that I wanted to go. We paid our bill and hit the trail for Boulder.
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Now, I could go into all the details of our strip club evening, but you’ve heard it all before. I will say that, in spite of the complex sexual politics and economics involved, I had fun. The club was very relaxed (largely thanks to the absence of alcohol) and the people were all remarkably friendly. Of course, my experience might not have been typical. In spite of the in-your-face stimuli of the club, I frequently found myself tuning in to the music as much as to the performers. A bumping beat came on the system and one of the dancers paused to chat with my friend and me.
“Do you know what this is?” she asked, apparently pegging us as music guys. It was “Da Funk” by Daft Punk. She proceeded to tell us how she’d seen them at Red Rocks last summer. We were there too, we told her. It was a great show.
The musical selections got noticeably more aggressive and a whole lot louder as the night wore on. A couple of lines from hip-hop tracks grabbed my attention. I filed them away so that I could look them up once I got home. One turned out to be E-40, and the other Too Short.
Late in the night, I was chatting with one of the dancers. Again, a track came on and she asked, “Do you know what this is? Are you into techno at all?” It was a four-on-the-floor beat and some computer-speech vocals. I had no idea what it was. “It’s Benny Benassi,” she said. “A friend of mine put it on a mix for me. He’s awesome.” Bobbing our heads in unison, we listened and chatted about other artists.
“I like it,” I said. “It reminds me of MSTRKRFT, and a little bit of Teenage Bad Girl.” (I have this horrible habit of one-upping people’s musical recommendations. Occupational hazard, perhaps. Or I’m just a pathetic show-off.)
“I haven’t heard of that last one,” she replied with professional politeness that might or might not have been sincere. Occupational hazard, perhaps. “I’ll have to check that out.” That song came to an end and an electro-rock track started. The dancer started to sing along.
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“What is this?” I asked her.
“It’s Shiny Toy Guns,” she replied between lines of the song. She knew all the words. I can only imagine that she hears it all the time at work.
By the end of the weekend, I found myself listening to Benny Benassi (amazing), Too Short (entertaining), E-40 (excellent) and Shiny Toy Guns (inconsistent). Benassi, in particular, really grabbed me and re-energized my jaded ears. I’ve been listening to his stuff – mostly Best of and Rock ‘N’ Rave – a lot this week, and marveling at the source of my new musical discoveries. Who woulda thunk it?
People always ask me how I keep up on so much new music, and my response is that I’m always listening. Whether I’m grabbing a CD out of my mailbox, working in my corporate office or picking up brussels sprouts at King Soopers, my ears are always open for music. It pays – in both a financial and a spiritual sense – to listen. After all, you never know what you’ll get, um, exposed to. – Eryc Eyl