Evolution of Dancer Evolves: Now Whiteout, Feb. 17 at Rebel
The last time EDGE covered Evolution of a Dancer, it was back in February. That party, like the first few Evolutions in the city and on Fire Island, offered three of most musically intelligent DJs spinning a night’s journey that took partygoers on a journey that illuminated how dance music has evolved through the decades.
Well, there was supposed to be another Evolution a few days before Halloween, to be held at Rebel, the club at 251 W. 30th St. That was Sunday, Oct. 28. If the meaning of that date escapes you, you probably don’t (or, for some poor souls, didn’t) live in the Rockaways, the Jersey Shore or Lower Manhattan.
A bitch (bastard?) named Sandy was bearing down on New York, and the party’s organizers wisely decided to postpone the event. The good -- no, make that great -- news is that the party has been re-scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 17, from 6 p.m. until 4 a.m., at the same place, Club Rebel.
Now if that date doesn’t ring any bells, it’s the night before President’s Day, which means no school the next day! Even better, tickets for the October event will be honored at the door. If you’re doing will-call, bring your ID, as the organizers have all the names. (Ticketholders, simply bring them.)
Except for the name change, to Whiteout, everything else will remain the same: The music will be contemporary -- real music that will make you want to move (or flag, or fan).
Actually, "Revolution" may be a better name for this party. Because for many of us, too much of what we’re hearing ("suffering through" may be more apt) has a beat. But is it music?
Increasingly, "dance music" has threatened to become an oxymoron. If, that is, you define music as melody set to a pulsing rhythm. The whirr of electronica; the relentless thump of drum-and-bass and tribal; even the spoken prosody of rap and hip-hop: These may be danceable. But are they music?
There are those who dismiss the longing for the emotive triggers and sheer joy that come from real, live songs as mere nostalgia, this generation’s version of "Dancing to the Oldies." If that’s true, then why is it that, when you go into any of the bars in Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen or Fire Island, where most of the crowd has barely reached the legal drinking age, you hear songs from dance divas like Madonna, Lady Gaga and Rihanna?
The Evolution parties themselves have stood as refutation that this concept only appeals to those old enough to have danced at the Saint or the original Pavilion. The crowds have been a mix of old and young, women and men, and gay and straight. All of these revelers have one thing in common: They yearn for the shared experience of the dance floor when the sounds coming from the DJ booth moved them spiritually as well as physically.
Heading Whiteout are two DJs who were instrumental in helping to craft and popularize the music that came to define gay dance clubs and large Circuit-style events.
Over the years, Michael Fierman and John Ceglia have continued to hone their craft. They have been carefully listening and collecting music that continues to have meaning as well as a beat. The result of their musical knowledge will be on display at Rebel.
The two founded Evolution of a Dancer both because they saw a need to get great music back into the clubs and because they were so inspired by the music they had been amassing.
"There is a vast ocean of new music now that is rarely, if ever, heard in clubs today," Fierman explains. "This resurgence of soulful house music needs to have a voice to the many dancers out there who long to hear and dance an uplifting and fresh vocal sound."
Joining them will be Philadelphia’s Jimmy DePre, a rising young DJ who will open and play the first three hours, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. DePre played on Fire Island, but this will be his formal introduction to New York City clubs.
The party is being billed as "a tea with a new twist," but in fact, it goes on well beyond the usual tea dance final call, until 4 a.m., which will give Ceglia and Fierman time to develop what used to be called the "journey" -- that progression through the night from bouncy anthems to Hi-NRG to the ending strains of Morning Music.
You’ll probably hear some dance-floor standards, but expect new mixes or mash-ups. For the most part, however, the music will be all new. But expect the unexpected, because too much of this great music has not had the proper exposure on the dance floor.
Above all, plan on having an unusually pleasant experience that is all too rare these days: a friendly dance floor, with a convivial feeling that will make you feel you are among friends, not strangers. It’s nice to be able to have an evening of dancing with people who view you as a fellow traveler, not a potential competitor.
That these evenings are popular with flaggers and fanners should not come as a surprise. The music lends itself to the elegant swirling of the magic that takes fabric or fans and turns them into their own light show.
At Whiteout you can expect lots of treats and probably even some tricks (or even trick, if thats part of your game plan). But you won’t be horrified at what you hear. If you’ve been yearning for an evening out that won’t leave you with a hollow feeling the next morning (not to mention hearing loss), then head to Midtown Sunday evening.
Evolution Whiteout will take place at Rebel, which is located on the north side of West 30th Street between Eighth and Seventh Avenues, on Sunday, Feb. 17, from 6 p.m. until 4 a.m. Monday morning. Rebel is close to subway lines on 28th Street and at Herald Square; ditto commuter rail lines, including 34th Street PATH Station and Penn Station a short walk away. Tickets are only $20 in advance, available at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/317027. Tickets will be $30 at the door, if available. For more information, go to www.evolutionofadancer.com.