Seattle has changed a lot in 10 years, especially when it comes to nightlife. Club nights have come and gone, venues have opened and closed, revelers have grown up and moved away and been replaced by new revelers. Most significantly, what was once a dudes-with-guitars town has become an all-sorts-with-records town. Among all the turnovers and hangovers, DUG has remained consistent, a nocturnal oasis of vinyl worship and freestyle dance music. On the first Friday of every month since 2008, DUG resident DJs David James (David Rauschenberg), Greasy (Mat Griesse), Christian Science (Christian Peetz) and Nitty Gritty (Garrett Lunceford) have occupied LoFi Lounge, spinning vintage funk, soul, boogie, electro, party rock, dancehall, reggae, samba—really anything with an irresistible groove—into dance-floor gold.
Music that makes people feel good ends up making people look good, too. Photographer Valerie Calano has been digging the DUG scene for years and, in preparation for this Friday’s 10th-anniversary celebration, selected a handful of recent pics that highlight the indubitable DUG vibe. Greasy and James offered up their heaviest cuts and filled in the details on those intangibles that breathe life into the party—much of which is simply the magic made by good music.
David James: A lot of nights are very particular about what they’re playing. We’re not. It’s not some over-niched thing. As long as we love it and it makes us wanna dance, it’s all up for grabs. One of our only parameters is that we only play original vinyl. We don’t allow reissues because there’s heavy stuff you can buy out there for $6 and that defeats the purpose. It keeps us honest.
It’s weird how the community has changed just in the 10 years we’ve been doing DUG. I remember you could go into the back room of the LoFi and see the Space Needle through the window. That’s gone now.
After doing it so long you develop your own repertoire of things you’re gonna play. I try to keep it fresh but 10 years is a long time. You can’t not repeat yourself. And this stuff is that good—it’s unfair to not play it!
When you see a receptive audiences and people just losing their shit, that’s the payment.
Greasy: We were one of the first nights Scott [Behrens] booked when he took over the LoFi. It was pretty much me and David and we’d have one guest and do one room for like six months. And finally we got enough people that we could open up to two rooms. It was a slow build. We had years there where it was packed—300 people paying at the door. It’s ebbed and flowed. I don’t know how people hear about us but they do—young hip kids and people’s dads and everywhere in between.
We’ve had 10 to 15 bands play over the years, which has been awesome. In the beginning people would come in and MC, and some dude showed up with a trumpet for a couple months to play alongside us, another dude with a harmonica. It was weird but we just rolled with it.
I don’t think any of us are insane DJs. I got into it because I was passionate about collecting records and I felt bad that I was hoarding all this cool music and never playing out and sharing with anybody. Doing a dance party was a way to expose the stuff I’d been finding. I don’t take it that seriously—I don’t sit at home and practice my sets. I’m improvising every time I DJ.
Our night wouldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t for LoFi. Good vibe there, good lighting, good people. Two rooms is always nice. I feel blessed we have such an awesome time. Nobody hassles us with requests. Everybody dances. It’s been a good ride.
In 2008 Seattle was still kind of an indie rock town, where everyone goes to emo shows and stands in the back nodding their heads and that’s as much as they move. Seattle has changed—now there are DJ nights everywhere. You could own a taco bar and there are DJs there playing while you eat!
All photos by Valerie Calano