Nocturnal Is Expanding Denver's After-Hours Dance Options

Nocturnal is holding its latest party at Eko House this Friday, September 23. The dance-music-oriented event was inspired by founder Alex Whittier's experiences with after-party culture, beginning when he attended LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy's DJ shows at Sasquatch Music Festival and in Aspen and Boulder. At that time, he wasn't planning to create his own event, but his imagination was sparked — in part by seeing Radiohead at Bonnaroo — and he wanted to share that type of experience with others.

Whittier grew up in Orem, Utah, going to see shows at Velour in Provo. In 2009, he was invited to Burning Man, and small seeds were planted for his future pursuits in music and events. He moved to Breckenridge, where he could indulge his loves of snowboarding and live music. At a James Murphy show at the Boulder Theater, Whittier was inspired and encouraged by a friend to begin making his own music, experimenting on a loaned laptop with Ableton and a controller. He adopted the DJ name Rhodium and began to play shows in Breckenridge — though at every performance, someone requested Phish. Whittier knew then that it was time to move to greener pastures.

After moving to Denver in 2012, Whittier continued to hone his chops as a DJ and event organizer. Through friends with Allied Creatives, he rented space in a warehouse and debuted Nocturnal in 2013. Kevin Callison headlined the event, and the night was an immediate success.

During his first year of seeking out Denver's nightlife, Whittier discovered Deep Club. He met one of Deep Club's organizers, Ryan Scannura, who introduced him to Afterhours Anonymous and connections outside Denver. At the time, Deep Club occupied a regular space in the National Western Complex, but that space soon became unavailable. Whittier became involved and helped book events at Allied Creatives, until that, too, was no longer an option, and Deep Club sought other spaces in the Santa Fe arts district and at 1010 Workshop.

Since the summer of 2014, however, Whittier has again been focused on Nocturnal. Whereas Deep Club leans toward house, Nocturnal's focus is to book techno acts. Nocturnal doesn't run on a weekly or monthly schedule, but instead happens when both the artists and space are available and suitable. Whittier also prefers having the event at different venues each time because he feels that it creates a different kind of energy for each event. “I really enjoy exposing a new space,” says Whittier. “It's great to take patrons aware of one space and introduce them to something new. If you're using the same space, it's important to transform it; otherwise, it gets stale. I've had a lot of help from Rachel Murray in transforming spaces. It takes a whole community, and I can't take credit for all of this.”

Whittier wants to create the kind of magic he experienced with Radiohead and James Murphy for his own events, and that starts with the transformation of the space. For an event on October 16 featuring Pantha Du Prince, Whittier, in partnership with the Love Vinyl imprint, is having special tickets made of metal and inscribed with art and event details.

Whittier wants to book bands as well as DJs and electronic artists in order to expand the kinds of experiences Nocturnal can offer. On October 16, there will be a daytime show as a companion to the after-hours-oriented Pantha Du Prince show, which will also showcase local psychedelic pop band déCollage. The Nocturnal Facebook page has more information about upcoming events, and Nocturnal's Soundcloud offers a playlist of artists who have played Nocturnal.

Nocturnal Presents: Sassmouth, Ryan Scannura, Alala, Friday, September 23, 11 p.m., Eko House, 5201 York Street, $10, 21+.

Nocturnal and Love Vinyl Records Presents: Pantha Du Prince, Offthesky, Seth Nichols and Steofan, Sunday, October 16, 11 p.m., Eko House, 5201 York Street, $30, 21+.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.