Class of ’99, Vol. 15
Rave culture and club culture were two different, parallel scenes with some important distinctions:
- Raves were an under-21 affair, and clubs were mostly off-limits to teenagers, with a few exceptions (Dock Five, Shelter, and the original Juice).
- Raves were largely non-commercial. After the door price (usually 20 bucks, tops), there might be a booth inside selling mix tapes, but that was about it. Clubs, on the other hand, ran promos on B96 and had ads over their urinals featuring women in bikinis hawking menthol cigarettes.
- Ravers pretended to be against drinking. I don’t think this was actually the case, but while it was a drug culture, alcohol was not central to the scene—whereas clubs were always about getting drunk.
- Raves were actually exclusive. Clubs tried to cater to a specific scene and clientele, but they were generally pretty easy for anyone to find and were always full of weird gold diggers and pickup artists.
While “rave” had a very specific connotation, “club culture” was more nebulous and meant different things to different people. As in NYC, Chicago had its own “club kid” culture which overlapped heavily with the rave scene, and featured a lot of “outlaw parties” which were basically just raves with a gayer, slightly older clientele. In Chicago, the king of the club kids was Jojo Baby.
Jojo was always there, both familiar and unrecognizable. Usually, he was at the front door of the party, and while he was clearly a club kid and not a raver, he always made the rounds in the rave circuit. By day, he was a hairdresser at this salon off the Belmont red line called Milo’s Hair Studio. Raver girls loved this specific A-cut where their hair was long in the front, and all spiky and blown-out in the back, and many swore that only Jojo knew how to cut it properly. He had an art studio in Wicker Park’s Flat Iron building, where he designed these creepy, lifelike dolls using body parts from animals and human cadavers.
Jojo passed away earlier this year, after suffering multiple forms of cancer. This month’s mix focuses on the clubbier side of house music, and Volume 15 is dedicated to the late Jojo baby, the ultimate Chicago club kid.
About the cover
This is a still from the movie Kids, which I’ve mentioned multiple times in this series and which provides most of its background images. This scene is shot at NASA, a very important piece of American rave history.
Follow these links to read more about the selections:
Celine Dion — Misled (MK Dub) (1993)
Yeah, I put a Celine Dion record in my mix, and there’s no shame in my game. I first heard This single on one of DJ Jes’ Warehouse tapes, and like most of MK’s dubs, it transcends the original material.
Mateo Matos — It's Alright (1999)
Here’s another Mateo & Matos track from their excellent Frontiers EP.
Industry Standard — What You Want (1996)
Deee-Lite — Call Me (1994)
This Deee-Lite tune comes from their Dewdrops In The Garden LP, which also features a track that made it on to the Party Girl soundtrack:
Mixx Vibes — Just Can't Get Enough (1994)
A classic from Mixx Vibes Session 2, off the legendary Vibe Music label.
Eddie Perez — Deeper, Go Deeper (1995)
This dub from the Juice Company EP featured on a DJ Sneak Mixtape, but I can’t remember which one.
DJaimin — Open The Door (1998)
My long-time DJ friend Mike G hates this record so much, I used to spin it just to fuck with him. Admittedly, it’s a pretty stupid novelty record. I blame Adam Sandler for this kind of humor, where you do a low-effort funny voice, barely keep from cracking yourself up, and that’s about it. Sandler had a comedy album in the early 90s that basically only contained this type of humor, and everyone in my junior high thought it was hilarious (myself included).
“Open The Door” comes from Slip ‘N’ Slide 5.
Bjork — There's More To Life Than This (1993)
Ah, Björk. Icelandic Wunderkind, national icon, and the original manic pixie dreamgirl. Did you know Björk released a disco album when she was 11? Or that she fronted a punk band at 15? She went on to found The Sugarcubes with her boyfriend, Einar Örn Benediktsson, who sucked at everything and ruined the band. Finally, she broke out onto the world stage with her album Debut, which I still consider her very best work.
The album’s liner notes claim this song was “recorded live at the Milk Bar toilets”, which is probably a joke because “Milk Bar” was the fictional club in A Clockwork Orange. It features an un-credited guest vocalist which is pretty clearly Lady Miss Kier from Deee-Lite.
Daft Punk — Revolution 909 (1996)
Another one from Daft Punk’s debut album Homework. This song came with a fantastic video, which was directed by Francis Ford Coppola’s son Roman. As I’ve mentioned before, very little was ever committed to film that accurately captured rave scene as I experienced it, but this video checks out. The kids are all actual ravers from Los Angeles, and in fact the main character was an actual runaway raver, according to the comments on the YouTube video below.
Runaway ravers were a staple of the Chicago scene as well. Often times, we didn’t know where they were from, or even their real names, as they hid behind a nickname like “Doughboy” or “Starbaby”.
I love this video. It might be the most authentically ravey thing ever, and I like that it has a Sesame Street, “Where Does Your Food Come From?” feel to it.
“Revolution 909” samples “Celebration” by some goofy German act called Fun Factory.
DSK — What Would We Do (1992)
This track comes off the essential Only For The Headstrong rave compilation from the early 90s. Headstrong is a must-have for rave enthusiasts—every track on this album is a classic.
Stacy Kidd — So Fat (1997)
DJ Sneak — Freak Me, Feel Me (1996)
UBQ Project — Oh Oh Oh (1995)
Another one from Vibe Records, off UBQ project’s the I Don’t Know EP.
The Chicago Connection — Dancin (1997)
I used to spin both sides of this record, but Cajmere’s is definitely the more clubby of the two.
Crystal Waters — Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless) (1991)
One of the biggest house records of the 90s. “Gypsy Woman” comes from Crystal Waters’ album Surprise.
Turntable Brothers — Get Ready (1996)
Another Georgie Porgie pseudonym. I don’t know why, but in the mid-90s Vibe records re-branded itself as Music Plant, which released this as the MK II EP.
Ian Pooley — Relations (1995)
Stardust — Music Sounds Better With You (1998)
This record was so huge, it became a victim of its own success. By the end of 1998 it had been spun to death and no one wanted to hear it anymore. I threw a rave in late ’98 with my friend Andrew, a Beavis and Butthead-themed party called “The Great K-Holio”. This record must have dropped at least four times throughout the night. It was embarassing.
The guy who owned the space was an old disco cowboy who looked like Van McCoy. He told us he found a bunch of crack paraphernalia after our party and that he would never let us use the space again. I was pretty skeptical, because I didn’t know any ravers who smoked crack, and you can’t exactly hide that. The whole place would have smelled like crack.