Once a fortnight for the past five years, London Calling's DJ Clockwork and DJ Nick O have entertained the PBR swilling, dance partying St. Louis public with their high-octane video sets. That kind of longevity is damn near unheard of in the highly capricious hipster community, and it's a testament to the guys' ability to adapt to the ever-changing tide of what's considered cool--be it the venue, the fashion, or, most importantly, the music.
Nick O and Clockwork (Nick Openlander and Doug Curtis, respectively) are known for bringing in big name guest stars like Designer Drugs, Depressed Buttons and Class Actress. This year, they took home the trophy for Best Party in our own 2011 Music Awards, and tomorrow night, they're celebrating their five year anniversary at The Gramophone with Jay Fay and Jaccuzzihidive from Las Vegas. We spoke with Curtis to get the lowdown on the past, the party, and whether or now we can look forward to another 5 years of London Calling.
Diana Benanti: How does it feel, five years later?
Doug Curtis: It's good, yeah, we're definitely excited about Saturday. It's a pretty big occasion for us.
How has the party changed in the past five years?
I don't think it's changed that much. Obviously the space has changed, people kind of get older and don't go out as much, I think by and large we've really just tried to keep it the same; not too pretentious, definitely laid back and fun. I definitely feel that it's the same party it was five years ago, thankfully.
And for those who don't remember, where has the nomadic party been in the past five years?
It started at Upstairs Lounge in '06, and we left there in '08. Then we were at the Stable Loft, for a short four months, we were at the Halo Bar for about six months, and then Shock City Studios for about four months, and we've had a run of good luck at the Gramophone for about a year and a half now.
Not to chose favorites, but what was your favorite venue?
I really think the high watermark was when we were at the Stable. More than anything else it was kind of really a special time, it just seemed like a lot of things were coalescing and happening. At the same time I'm most happy with being at the Gramophone, because we're able to do what we want to do, which is incorporate live bands with our party and bring in up-and-coming artists, whether they're DJs or bands. We're kind of uninhibited, whereas at the Stable it was a great venue and really cool and we had a lot of people there, but we did bands there and it was really hard. We had to pull in our own P.A. and sound guy. It wasn't set up for live concerts. I love the Gramophone for that reason. I love the ownership there, it makes life a lot easier when you have everybody moving towards the same direction, and I think creatively we're able to do a lot there, which is fantastic.
If I had to pick a favorite era, it would probably be the Stable, but it also seemed like it was super dramatic back then.
I think it was just the time or something.
We were only there for four months, so it was kind of like, for that four months it was really epic. I honestly felt like it was a little unsustainable. I think we had some really good parties there, but it's such a big space, and filling that space consistently was definitely a challenge as a promoter. We had to continually, totally up the ante with what we were doing, it would have been a hard place. If you have 150 people there it feels comfortable, but any less than that and it felt empty -- that's a big challenge. I think the recession has definitely affected people's discretionary spending right now. If we're bringing in an act, we try not to do any show over $10. We're taking losses on shows, to make sure the party is affordable for people. To price it out of the water would eliminate a huge audience. Let's be honest, our audience is service industry people who don't have a whole lot of money; we're really sensitive to that. We hate having to do a cover, but it's kind of essential. Our crowd knows that, and we try keep it at that $5-6 range.
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