This is the story of how I got into dance music.

I’ve always been a fan of electronic music in general. When I was ten my favorite artists were Brian Eno, Thomas Dolby, Devo, Laurie Anderson, and Jean Michel Jarre (probably the most influential artist for me – check out Oxygene Pt. 2 – mindblowing), and I wore the cassettes out listening to them under the covers at night. As a high school senior in 1990-91 I was listening to a lot of alt rock, goth (Cure, Smiths, Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy), and electronic pop (New Order, Seal, KLF, Primal Scream, Deee-Lite).

[singlepic id=580 w=320 h=240 float=right]During my freshman at college in Boston I went to industrial shows (Meat Beat Manifesto, Ministry, Front 242, KMFDM) and got turned on to some techno like Aphex Twin, The Future Sound of London, and Orbital. While home for the summer after my freshman year at college, I picked up a flier for A Rave Called Sharon, to be held in San Francisco. I had not at that point been to a rave, nor was I really sure what raves were, but I was eager to go. Alas, I couldn’t find a ride, but I held on to that flier (notice the ‘no whistles’ policy – funny).

Then in the fall of 1992 I went to an after-hours club called The Loft and my life was immediately and drastically changed. This is where I first heard real underground dance music in the context it is meant to be heard. Many of those reading this will remember this venerable institution and have similar tales to tell. But for those that don’t it was a brownstone at 21 Stanhope Street in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. Tall and narrow, a tight stairwell rose from the street entrance past dancefloors on the second and third floors to an amazing rooftop patio surrounded by skyscrapers. The place was open from midnight to 6am and on Fridays DJs Brian Mayhem, 333, and MGee played rave music upstairs for a mostly caucasian audience; progressive house, breakbeat, and trance. Downstairs the crowd was mostly black and latino and the sound was straight-up deep, domestic house music. The djs were Armand Van Helden, Bruno, and Craig Rainey.

The crowds didn’t mix much; the heads downstairs thought rave music was too crazy and the kids upstairs were intimidated by the attitude downstairs. Though I spent most of my time dancing upstairs, I often went to the house floor because the music was so good. I didn’t necessarily feel welcome but I felt tolerated and that was good enough. The sound system was warm and powerful (nothing sounds as good as a wall of wooden W-bins), and when the djs dropped big tracks the reactions were fantastic – the whole room jumped up and down grinning and cheering. The Loft was an exceptional way to begin my journey through dance music and in an industry that became more and more fragmented by genre I always carried both dance floors in my heart.

I attended Fridays religiously for two or three years. I learned to dj and by 1994 was traveling around for professional gigs. Overload and Jason Mouse took over as resident djs upstairs and would occasionally let my partner (DJ Caseroc) and I fill in for them. Having become so close with the music on that dance floor, those sets were a real honor. One of my favorite memories is playing Timothy Leary’s “Tune In Turn On Drop Out” over the Plastikman Acid House Remix of 777 “Alphawave” at peak hour (you can approximate my mix by opening both youtube links at the same time). Packed floor, smoke so dense you can’t see your hand in front of your face, strobes firing, cheers and screams growing louder as Richie’s acid epic reached a fever pitch…

By the time I started going to The Loft, Armand (or DJ AV8 as he was also known) was already an experienced producer with releases on seminal deep house labels Strictly Rhythm and Nervous Records, and within a year of my first visit to The Loft he moved to New York to produce more accessible dance music. This mixtape is from the days when Armand rocked the deep sh*t.

Of particular interest is the transition from “Brighter Days” to “Show Me Love;” it’s brilliant. That single blend taught me quite a lot about djing.

As always, help with the tracklist is appreciated. Question for those that might know: did this mixtape have a title? Thanks, Joe.

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00:00Mood II SwingI Need Your Luv (Right Now) (Lem's Church Mix)
03:23MAW & Company feat. Xaviera GoldGonna Get Back To You (Mood II Swing "Big Thick" Dub)
06:40Sultans Of SwingMove It To The Left (3rd Level Banji Mix)
10:58The S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M.It's Gonna Be A Lovely Day (Palladium House Anthem I)
18:43Happy MondaysStinkin Thinkin (Junior Style)
22:21JazzyLonely (Underground Goodie Mix)
24:50Cajmere feat. DajaeBrighter Days (Underground Goodie Mix)
27:04Robin S.Show Me Love (Stonebridge Club Mix)
32:56NightcrawlersPush The Feeling (The Dub Of Doom)
37:10T.M.V.S.Don't Be Shy
38:39Todd TerryDesire - What I Want
41:22Martha WashCarry On (Masters at Work Dub Mix)
43:31Martha WashCarry On (Tee's Dub)
48:23HappyheadDigital Love Thing (Underground MK Mix)
50:23Armand Van HeldenTe-Quiero (Casa Cabesa Mix)
57:44J.Keep The Promise (MK Deep Dub)
59:14Kenny "Dope" GonzalesAll I'm Askin' (Roger S. Remix)
1:01:30House Of GypsiesSamba
1:03:40Frank SkiWhores In This House
1:05:07Uncanny AllianceI Got My Education (Kenlou Mix)
1:09:58Trey LorenzPhotograph Of Mary (MAW Dub)
1:13:06Aly-UsFollow Me (Club Mix)
1:18:22Karen PollackYou Can't Touch Me (Murk Remix)
1:21:51Liberty CitySome Lovin'
1:24:21Coral Way ChiefsRelease Myself