DJs and dance music are constantly threatened in New York City these days, by cabaret-law chicanery and club-hopper apathy alike. Promoter/producer Larry Tee explains that we should all care more—or at least check out his latest music-festival venture, Dance Music Invasion 07, featuring six nights of international DJs and the upstarts who want to take their places. For a full schedule—which includes performances at hip-kid parties like Cheeky Bastard and Ruff Club, as well as a night of the festival mastermind’s top choices (Arthur Baker, Christopher Just, V.I.P.) at Studio B—see dancemusicinvasion.com.
So, Dance Music Invasion 2007. Why? DMI is my effort to do something along the lines of Miami’s Winter Music Conference or the Amsterdam Dance Event, but through the filter of what’s important to New York. We have no beach, and the all-night parties might be difficult, but New York’s just fallen so far behind in the realm of dance music.
And you want the city to be relevant again. Right. This is just about us having a week where the talent is sensational: minimal, electropunk, classic house guys—just a banquet of choices. I mean, minimal is so huge in Europe, and in New York we only have a couple people come through every couple months. It’s unbelievable.
How’s DMI different from other music festivals you’ve produced? Well, electroclash was just a guilty pleasure for me. DMI is less about me saying, “This is cool, this is what I want,” and more about working with the clubs and wanting their input. I want this to be the new Coachella—a music destination. With celebrities. You know, just a sexier idea of what dance music is about.
You’re going for a mix of DJ superstars and underground critical darlings, right? Our lineup leans closer to the underground side. We were counting on Pacha for some of the big names, but they dropped out at the last minute. Then again, they’re still bringing the acts in, so I still got what I wanted. I just can’t put it on the official roster.
Your opening night was scheduled to take place at Mr. Black. Does New York’s treatment of dance venues make organizing this event loads more difficult?
Of course. With some clubs, it’s just week to week. But I also think clubs could take more cues for what they have to look for to stay out of trouble. In terms of the noise, you just can’t insist on building discos wherever you want—Björk’s raising her kids now in Chelsea, you know? That’s why I think Studio B might have the right idea. The future of New York’s nightclubs really may just be in Brooklyn.
The New York Dance Party (billed as “the largest dance floor ever created”) was scheduled for October 6, but was postponed until next year. Does that work in your favor, or were you disappointed?
Well . . . do you know who Cerrone is?
Me? Um—not really. Well, you aren’t alone. Most people couldn’t possibly name three songs by Cerrone. So having him as the main attraction is kind of a hard sell. But I definitely understand that frustration, that feeling of “Why the fuck bother?”
Well, but seriously, though: Why the fuck bother? Dance Music Invasion is an attempt—maybe misguided—to inject new stuff into the realm of what happens in nightclubs, like Double-Dutch Will Take You Higher, a jump-roping squad from Cleveland. They’re an absolute scream. And if we’re successful this year, then next year I’ll be able to make more curatorial choices, and we’ll be able to find serious sponsors. It really could become a fantastic, long-term event that has an impact on the city. I mean, come on, it’s New York—wherever there’s a void, something will come along to fill it.