By Jena Ardell
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At last Sunday's Brooklyn Flea—the hip, five-month-old outdoor market in Fort Greene—the vinyl section was pretty laid-back. As "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" played over the sound system, shoppers lazily flicked through the crates, occasionally pausing to consult the authority standing on the other side of the table. With fingers sticky from a watermelon People's Popsicle, I steered clear of touching anything (sticky fingers: really fun for those of us with OCD tendencies), but one child-free wanderer I saw felt visible relief when he fought his way to the tables and dove right in, shaking his head and muttering, "Hipster babies."
This Sunday's scene might not be so relaxed. The Flea's Eric Demby—who co-founded the market with Jonathan Butler of the Brownstoner website and oversees the day-to-day operations—has curated the Superstar DJ Record Fair, giving shoppers access to the personal collections of some of New York's biggest tastemakers, including DFA Records, myriad DJs (from /rupture to Rehka to DB, he of the groundbreaking early-'90s NASA party), and Other Music employees (yep, that means Duane). Demby plans to carve out a corner of the market for 10 to 15 sellers that day: If you're looking to upgrade your personal stash, you may not have a better chance.
"Superstar DJ was one of the first ideas I had, actually, when I wanted to start Brooklyn Flea," explains Demby. "But first I wanted to make sure that people would show." Now that he knows people will—the Flea saw some 20,000 people on opening day alone last April; they've even triggered organized opposition from the Catholics across the street!—Demby felt free to host the record fair, as well as other future promos, to reel in new faces. (Next month is Furniture Fest, which makes me a very happy girl. Hopefully I'll find something to replace the already-sold pair of pink vinyl chairs I fell in love with last weekend.) "We want to do what we can to make the Flea different and unique," Demby adds. "You know, make it cool."
Corralling a slew of top-notch players might've been daunting for a novice, but for Demby, the music thing isn't such a stretch: Before he left his job as a speechwriter for Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz to found the Flea, he worked as a music journalist, writing and editing for Paper, Rolling Stone, and occasionally the Voice. "My brother and I run a little sound system at the Flea and get a pretty good response," he says. "So I sent out an e-mail to maybe 50 people who would be interested, or who would know people who were. Plus I have a lot of friends in the industry."
He isn't kidding—he has a personal link to many of the fair's participants, past and present. DFA's label manager, Jonathan Galkin? "We went to college together." Breakcore producer DJ /rupture? "I lived with him in Barcelona." Small Change? "He's an old friend, going back like 15 years. He DJed my wedding." In fact, Small Change, who's sold at the Flea before but won't be around this Sunday, partly inspired this whole idea. Last December, Demby asked Dier if he'd be interested in selling records at the Flea; he agreed, and word spread regarding his sizable collection. "All of a sudden, he's profiled on the front page of the Times' City Section," Demby says. "That seemed like a pretty good indication that there would be interest. And I always thought it was an obvious attraction— buying records from a DJ."
Other participants, according to Demby: "Eat Records, which is a used record shop and coffeehouse in Greenpoint. Def Jux, whose office is like a block from the Flea, so they're in the neighborhood. DJ McBoing Boing, who's an old friend of Small Change—he does a lot of the Rubulad parties." In addition, the superstar DJs each get 20 minutes or so to spin on the Flea's sound system, and every record they play will be for sale.
So what does that include? For drum 'n' bass pioneer DJ DB, "old-skool breaks and techno, mostly." (Longtime friend and collaborator Dara accompanies.) "A few rare rock gems, too, but they won't be cheap." (Interesting sidenote: DB already sells wares at the Flea with his wife, Wini McBride—they founded McBride Beauty, an all-natural line of products inspired by Wini's Irish mother. The brand recently got the gig as amenities provider for Robert De Niro's Greenwich Hotel. Also: DB's drum 'n' bass party at Love, the Secret Night of Science, celebrates its two-year anniversary Friday night.)
DJ Rehka, meanwhile, looks to move many of her older selections. "When I started DJing many moons ago, I played a lot more commercial dance and house music," she says. "That meant stuff like LaBouche, Le Click, and Dr. Alban, and crates of deeper house cuts and remixes on labels like Twisted and Club 69—even a few on Tommy Boy Silver (the hip-hop label's foray into dance music). I did a party called Mutiny that was drum 'n' bass–inspired South Asian electronica, which caused me to amass stuff on labels like Hospital Records and Liquid Sky. I have a bunch of hip-hop singles I have doubles of. And last but not least, the many freebies and promos from various labels around the world need to go."
If she has to sell 'em, that means somebody has to buy 'em. The Superstar DJ Record Fair takes place Sunday, September 14, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Bishop Laughlin Memorial High School in Fort Greene. Visit brownstoner.com/brooklynflea for more information.