Elm Street’s underground rising
By: Katei Cranford
Once upon a time, downtown Greensboro was a dead zone beyond the party kids at the infamous club Babylon. These days things are much more lively for dinner crowds but less so for alternative nightlife.
Three upcoming events over the weekend highlight how party people are again bubbling underground vibes to the surface—boasting inclusivity above all—with light shows and sick beats to boot.
Strictly Social and Dance From Above are DJ collectives making moves, while Boxcar Bar + Arcade is poised to be a burgeoning outlet for bands.
“Doing these shows is all about community,” said Alvin Shavers of Strictly Social about the electronic music series that turns a posh restaurant into a two-story party palace every “First Friday” night at La Rue.
“It’s a musical journey,” Shavers said, “we just want everyone to accept each other and have a good time partying while listening to house music.” Freddie Fred, Kingthings, and Jonathan Vizcuña round out the resident DJs bringing talent for this round.
While Strictly.Social dips from regional DJ pools, Dance From Above wrangles international artists. Inclusivity remains salient, and crossovers are common between these kindred sets of party makers. Projection artist, thefacesblur, will perform at both events, along with DJs fiftyfootshadows, Niervash, and Rahl.
Dance From Above shines “in the face of so many opaque dividing lines all around us. We need to pull ourselves together and help remind each other that we are more than our differences.”
They’re coming together Aug. 3, and Shavers is excited to have two of Greensboro’s electronic parties under one roof. Though the Dance From Above shindig on Aug. 5 won’t be under any roof at all.
Starting in the afternoon, the event will occur “on a cozy patch of grass” outside the renovated flour mill on the Southern tip of downtown. As the sun sets, hypnotic projections will run against “looming silos” while DJs bump tunes into the evening air.
Dance From Above aims to be “a place to come let loose for a while and get lost in joyful rhythms,” with “no egos, no cliques, just a desire to pull people together to build a positive community and culture.” It is a staunchly communal organization.
“We do our best to embody a positive spirit in our humble dance parties by making an inclusive, welcoming space to get together as one despite the madness.”
“Also, the fact that we have underground legend Jack J, from Vancouver, is a pretty big deal to us,” organizers said. “The Pender Street Steppers are DIY as can be: no social media, they’re not on Spotify. We’re the only non-major city to catch a date on their North American tour, and it’s their first time in the Carolinas.”
For nearly a decade, Jack Bonney introduced fresh acts to the Triad as general manager of WUAG. As DJ Bonzani (and part of Dance From Above), he’ll continue in a performer-role on Aug. 5.
Later that night, two blocks North on Elm Street, Boxcar Bar + Arcade will host Bit Brigade, the Bronzed Chorus, and Instant Regrets in its private event space.
Rarely does downtown have a home for underground bands, much less multiple offbeat events within walking distance. Sunday will be special. Boxcar is printing commemorative flyers designed by Jenna Rice for the first 100 ticket holders.
Bit Brigade shreds the soundtrack to classic games while an expert plays along without skipping a beat (or power-up). A videogame-band playing the arcade seemed natural to Rosie Fernandez, local music advocate and Boxcar booker.
“Having these shows has been a work in progress,” Fernandez said. “Of course, I hoped it could happen. So we’ve been testing it out slowly, but surely. Fortunately, the owner wants to incorporate things that appeal to a diverse group of people.”
Fernandez said so far, the shows have done really well and are positively received by musicians and patrons.
“As long as we can have a space that’s proper for a party, we will try to come together with something special for people to enjoy,” Shavers added.
In the words of Dance From Above: “Let’s come together, seek out common ground, and dance on it all night long.”
Katei Cranford is a GSO rock-n-roller and Triad music nerd. She hosts Mostly Local Monday, a radio show that runs like a mixtape of bands playing NC the following week. Catch her on WUAG 103.1FM or via live stream at www.wuag.net.
Strictly.Social happens Friday night at La Rue (403 N. Elm St.) Dance From Above starts Sunday afternoon at The Mill (816 S. Elm St.). Bit Brigade, The Bronzed Chorus, and Instant Regrets will be at Boxcar Bar + Arcade (120 W. Lewis St.) Sunday night.