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  The Playhouse: LTJ Bukem 9.22.00
by Sterling McGarvey

Venue: The Masquerade - Atlanta, GA
Presented by: Vinyl Boy/Pleazure

On Friday, September 22, 2000, I believed again. In spite of complaints from many that the "scene" has gone sour, and the love is gone, a very special edition of the Playhouse proved just the contrary. A joint venture between Pleazure and Vinyl Boy brought us a rare stateside appearance from LTJ Bukem and MC Conrad, with Nookie. The last time I saw Bukem spin out in ATL was back in March of 1999, and to this day I tell everyone that he left a permanent tainting effect on my musical tastes. Jungle never sounded the same after that party at Kaya. Well, if the first party made me a believer, then this party made me feel reborn and rejuvenated.

When we arrived at the venue, the line was quite long. Despite our pre-conceived assumptions about this party (many people said that they weren't coming, so we assumed it wouldn't be very crowded), we were wrong. The place was packed solid, and it was jumping from the get go. When I hit Purgatory, Dean Coleman was completely rocking the house inside out. I saw everyone from older clubbers to kids to a few stray wanderers from the upstairs concert dancing while I struggled to get some refreshments at the bar. The crowd makeup was very different this evening as older heads mixed in with younger party kids. There was a certain balance to this party. Although I didn't know a lot of the people, it seemed as though there weren't too many younger heads, but it was just youthful enough that it didn't feel very "Buckhead cast-off" in the Masquerade. Dean's house was pounding hard and I got my groove in action for a few minutes before entering a hall of secular, yet spiritual uplift. Nookie had the dancefloor eating out of his hand with his atmospheric selections. MC Conrad was enhancing the experience with his vocal input. The only drawback was that I had no clue where in the hell they were. At Kaya, we could see Blame and DRS, and we could see LTJ Bukem and Conrad. I joked that Conrad looked like he wanted to throw a live hand grenade into the audience the whole time that he was MCing. Unfortunately, we couldn't see Conrad's "oh so happy" facial expressions this evening. But that was okay.

At 1am, Mr. Williamson (LTJ Bukem) stepped up to the tables. I think I was ready for that since the last time I saw him spin out. The crowd was totally into the experience. I don't think I could have asked for anything except the presence of a few friends and loved ones to feel the complete beauty of the sounds. There were few to no people laid out on the sides of the party. The break circles were small and conservative enough after a while that my 6-feet+ brethren and I could properly dance without feeling compressed. People who likely didn't party much (something about the way a person dances for some reason can be such a dead giveaway) were out there going absolutely nuts alongside me. Everywhere I turned, people were into the music. I was grinning ear to ear as I danced in ways that I normally do not, as I felt parts of the music that normally go ignored. The sounds weren't just the sharp percussion and pounding bass, there were also ethereal and angelic sounds wafting from the sound system. The floor was filled with beautiful vibes. No one was trying to pose and act thuggish. No one was overly candied and sitting in a corner. I didn't feel like I was being watched, and if I was, I didn't give a good damn. Nothing mattered except the music and the love I was feeling for everyone.

It's very hard to elaborate on track selection, or what tracks got the crowd nuts, simply because the Good Looking sound is so unique. It's not like if someone threw on a popular track like "Nitrous" or "Sentient." The music simply flowed...logically. It progressed, it evolved, and it melted into itself. I believe he actually closed out with a remix of "Babylon" (the track sounded very similar if it wasn't) and some very progressive-sounding breaks/big beat. Actually, there were quite a few times where I thought he was going to drop some classic tracks, like "Music" or "Rhodes to Freedom," but there were only tracks hinting at those.

What really made me happy in the end was looking at the crowd. Everyone seemed to be in the moment. After the lights came up and the crowd dispersed, I finally got to catch up with him. I told him that the last time I saw him spin, that the set changed me. That was the cherry on top of a very sweet evening. I've come to the conclusion that if everyone spun sets as lovely as that, no one would ever need to wash their problems away in "things" again. To paraphrase MC Conrad, they took me where I wanted to be, and I didn't want to come down. I don't think I can thank Jennifer and Chad enough for throwing this party, but I'll keep trying!

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