At the bar inside the Majestic Cafe, party promoter Adriel Thornton sips tea and clicks on a laptop. Messages on his MySpace account and postings on the electronic music forum DetroitLuv get his full attention. Then a 1996 flyer for an event called Family appears on his screen. That was the first one, at Tom Phillips (American Legion) Hall on Gratiot, Thornton says. When will the last one be? It may go on forever. No one wants to see it end.
Family is a party franchise that Thorntons had going on the Detroit scene for 10 years, an astonishingly long run in this unstable dance underworld.
Thornton was already a practiced promoter by the time Family debuted. In the early 90s, he began producing events at the old Packard plant and other abandoned locations in the city. Those renegade parties featured such rising techno talents as Dan Bell, Rob Hood and Claude Young. A few years later, Thornton was breaking the ambient and IDM (intelligent dance music) scene for local audiences at Zoots coffehouse, where he booked people like Carl Craig, Derrick May, Rich Hawtin, Carlos Souffront and U.K. duo Autechre.
But with Family, Thornton rolled it all together into a package, eventually building a Tuesday residency at Motor that had lines snaking around the Hamtramck club.
I wanted to marry the underground with anyone who was into good music, Thornton says. It was all-inclusive black, white, gay, straight, guys and girls. No cheese. Never. It took us three months to make it hit at Motor. But once it was on, it was on.
The weekly night at Motor lasted three years, driven by residents Echo (Jason Endig), Jeremy Christian, Derek Plaslaiko, Dilemma, Brian Gillespie and others. A 1998 after-party in 1998 for Kraftwerk was one of many high points.
We cant talk about all the best moments in the newspaper, Thornton says, grinning. It was all bananas.
Thornton says his motivation was simple: Reach the muthafuckas who really get it, and not just the muthafuckas who want the next big thing. Its a dance party, so get the fuck out on the dance floor and dance.
Can a dude say it any clearer? Put Thorntons words to the sweaty test Dec. 23 for the annual Family Reunion at the Works (1846 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-961-1742). Gillespie, Echo, Plaslaiko and Dilemma perform. $10. Doors, 10 p.m. 18 and over. The party runs until the last needle or dancer drops on Christmas Eve.
313 in 586
If a night of Family fun doesnt satisfy your holiday party lust, strap it on again on Boxing Day (Dec. 26) and go clubbing at a bowling alley in Roseville. You heard that right. Promotions group Local: 313 presents Winter Solstice, a night of live electronic performance, DJs and digital video. The lineup includes Derek Michael (former Windsorite now in Los Angeles); live hip hop from Blue LeGoon; techno from Louis Royale and Tek.User of Panic Records; and digital hardcore mayhem courtesy of Kero vs. Jeremy Nida. Video installation by the multitasking Kero. At Apollo Lanes, 29410 Gratiot Ave., Roseville; 586-872-7223. $8. Doors, 8 p.m. Party expected to run until 4 a.m. Bowling lanes available.
Kissin club cousins
New Years Eve bang will be loudest and most beautiful in a section of downtown that contains both Oslo and the Hub.
At Oslo, house music will rule the basement club as old chums Mike Huckaby and Michael Geiger reunite for a night of soulful beatdown sounds. The party is produced by Organic and begins at 9 p.m. For dinner reservations, call 313-963-0300. Cover for the six-hour DJ set is $10. 1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit.
Around the corner at the Hub, new Detroit techno label Cratesavers Muzik features a live performance by AUX 88, and DJ sets by DJ Surgeon, Suburban Knight, Sean Deason, T. Linder and Tink Thomas. The show is emceed by Magic Mike Young. 1344 Broadway, Detroit; 313-961-2000. $50 at the door, $35 with RSVP. Includes buffet, breakfast and Champagne. Go to cratesavers.com for RSVP info. Party starts at 9 p.m. and runs to 5 a.m.
Friday, Dec. 23: Corktown Christmas Special, featuring Gary Martin and many more. Corktown Tavern, 1716 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-964-5103. No cover. 10 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 26: Untitled for the Holidays, featuring DJs Mike Servito, Ryan Elliott, Greg Mudge and more; Lee Curtiss performs live. Alvins, 5756 Cass Ave., Detroit. $5. 9 p.m. 18 and over. More information at burnlab.net/blackbx.
Thursday, Dec. 29: Blueroot Dubmission. Gimp and Icky spinning roots, dub reggae and ska. Cadieux Café, 4300 Cadieux St., Detroit; 313-882-8560. No cover. 10 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 30: Spencer Drennan of ItIsWhatItIs Records, Victoria, B.C., and Detroits Element.8 at Oslo, 1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-963-0300. $5. 10 p.m.
The Subterraneans is a column dedicated to Detroit dance culture. Send comments to [email protected]