With pulsing ’80s beats and carefully selected new wave tracks, Dickens Pub has found a way to entertain Calgarians who go against the grain.
Hang the DJ (HTDJ), the downtown venue’s monthly alternative dance parties, embraces the city’s counter-culture and all of those who steer clear of mainstream entertainment.
The regular parties got their start on April 10, 2010 when Dickens Pub owner Chris Hewitt organized the inaugural event as a “subtle nod” to the anniversary party for the now defunct alternative club The Warehouse, which Hewitt also owned.
“When it [The Warehouse] closed in January, 2010, there was a gaping hole in the nightlife for non-mainstream enthusiasts,” said Hewitt, who moonlights as HTDJ’s DJ in question.
“I missed the alternative music in a city that is largely dominated by Top 40 bars and electronic DJ nights, and I think a lot of other people felt the same way.
“I took a gamble and put on the first HTDJ and it met with great success.”
Now entering its third year of alternative clubbing entertainment, HTDJ looks to have a bright future, as its popularity has been steadily increasing.
The name of the event is a reference to a lyric in ‘Panic,’ a song performed by HTDJ playlist favourite The Smiths.
With the events’ increasing popularity, Hewitt has decided to hold it more often.
Instead of having the event once every few months, it now happens once every three weeks, with the parties usually falling on Saturday nights.
For Mandy Reddekopp, who has been attending the dance parties for a year and a half, Hang the DJ is a “great alternative to the mainstream club scene.”
“You can just go there and have fun and dance and not worry about being judged, regardless of how you look,” said Reddekopp, who sometimes attends decked out in a goth look.
Popularity has its price. As HTDJ has attracted more attention, ardent fans have noted the dilution of its alternative playlist.
“One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s becoming more and more popular, and as a result, a lot more mainstream music is being played,” Reddekopp said.
According to Hewitt, the format of the regular events will remain the same in the future, though many of this year’s upcoming HTDJ events will feature seasonal themes such as the St. Patrick’s Day and Anti-Stampede nights.
Other special event-themed nights are being considered, but Hewitt said that it is too early to disclose their details.
Regardless, he is striving to keep the events fresh and interesting for its unconventional fan base.