Picture it-it’s this Sunday. You head to your favorite Philly brunch spot for mimosas and prayers in curing the previous night’s nasty hangover. Then, all of the sudden, the hair-of-the-dog kicks in, and like Austin Powers, you’ve suddenly got your mojo back, baby. But wait, it’s 4:00…on a Sunday….you want to go and dance and suddenly you realize, there’s nowhere to go…until now. Yes, this Sunday, Philly hot spot Tavern on Camac is launching a new party called ‘Fisco Rispo Disco’, in which resident Tavern on Camac DJ Jimmy DePre and New York DJ John Michael Di Spirito have joined funkdafied forces to put together a one-stop disco shop for your buzz-y afternoon. Judging from the sounds of it, it’s certainly going to be the strobe-lit place to be every last Sunday of the month. This week, Philly Mixtape got the chance to chat with both local DJs, where we gabbed about what music to expect, what exactly a “Sunday Tea Dance” is, and just what the hell THAT title is all about…dive in.
PM-Okay, so John Michael, I’ll ask you this one. You and Mr. DePre have been friends for a quite some time now. Tell everyone a little about how you guys met.
JM-Believe it or not, it was at a party our friend (and fellow DJ) Barney Philly used to throw called “Woof” at the Gold Club. We were introduced as music enthusiasts and the conversation just went on (and on and on and on…) from there. Jimmy was the first guy I’ve ever really discussed my love for vocal harmony and doo wop music with and I was surprised by how much he knew and we never looked back!
PM-So, first and foremost, explain the title of your party to everyone….
JM-Well, one day we were hanging out talking about some “cheap” sounding record and we decided that “Fiscally Responsible” sounded nicer to say than “cheap”…So we thought “fiscally responsible disco music” was a genre all on it’s own…And then it just became “Fiscally Responsible Disco.” Since we all love abbreviations nowadays, the “FiscoRispoDisco” idea came about and we always talked about making that into an all-vinyl party one day…now it’s years later and here we are finally making it a reality!
JD-I’d like to think that John Michael and I have relatively good taste in all kinds of music but there’s always those guilty pleasures that you shouldn’t like because they’re so bad but you do. For years, him and I have joked about these pieces of music saying “they really were handing recording contracts out to anyone back then, weren’t they?” or “I bet the budget for this one was $5 with some change left over at the end!” I mean, if you heard some of the selections I’m talking about you would totally envision Oprah in your mind screaming “you get a record contract and you get a record contract and YOU get a record contract!!!” Being that downright absurd things come out of our mouths quite often, we decided that we would refer to these records not as cheap like so many already do but as fiscally responsible. We know that saying “Fiscally Responsible Disco” is quite a mouthful obviously, so over time we shortened it, like our friend Josh Abrahams would do, to a hashtag, FiscoRispoDisco, and started categorizing certain records as just that. The idea for a party based on this music came shortly afterward but then we came to our senses and realized we should keep the title but start a chill, hangout type party with the music we love so much from decades past. After all, it’s really that music that shaped where dance music is today in one way or another. However, if there’s one thing we always share a deep appreciation for, it’s really ridiculous music. Campy, over-produced, under-produced, all of it…and during the disco era and well into the 80’s, the music market was flooded with low budget productions, trying to cash in on “the sound”…ergo “cheap” music…
PM-What made you guys decide to have a Sunday tea dance party?
JD-Sunday Tea has always been an alluring and fun idea. Unlike a Friday or Saturday night where the music is a bit more serious and a “journey” is put together for the dancer, Sunday Tea allows for an easier sounding approach with little expectation other than having a good time with good music. With our Tea running from 4pm until 9pm, you could still sleep in, have brunch, grab a few drinks and a dance with friends and be home in time for a good night’s sleep so you’re rested for the work week on Monday. Tea Dance was started on Fire Island at The Blue Whale in the late 60s and has since then been recreated all over the world, including right here in our own hometown. Throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, it was tradition to go out on Sunday afternoon but Philadelphia hasn’t had a regular, proper Sunday Tea Dance in years and is long overdue for one, especially as the weather gets nicer in the coming months. We’re very excited to be bringing that vibe back to the city that changed the face of dance music not only in the 50s and 60s, but in the early 70s when disco was born here.
JM-Jimmy and I have both been DJ’s for so long now and we’ve done so many Friday/Saturday night residencies that we’ve always enjoyed Sunday parties a little more. For whatever the reasons, the crowds you get on a Sunday always seem to be the die hards. The one’s who are there for the music and the good times…and that’s what this is all about. No egos. No drama. All music. Throughout our various residences, we are sometimes restricted as to what formats we were able to play, so the idea of full on musical control and freedom obviously appeals to us! Jimmy’s the resident DJ at Tavern on Camac every Friday and Saturday night, so to have them let us come in with free reign on a Sunday too was really amazing! We’re very lucky for their support! I’ve noticed that there seems to be all these fun “all about the music” Sunday parties popping up in various cities so we wanted to throw our hats into the ring, so to speak. Especially in a city like Philadelphia which has such an incredible history of disco/funk/soul AND house music!
PM–Now Jimmy, I want to ask you, what kind of grooves can everyone except this weekend?
JD-Fun, chill and often interactive music is what can be expected this weekend. From 4-6pm I’ll be serving up disco, funk and soul sounds that will be definitely get your head moving and feet tapping. There’ll be lots of solid grooves with handclaps, fierce back up singers and sensational lead performances, both vocally and instrumentally. Naturally we’ll be featuring lots of Philadelphia music as well and things you would’ve only been able to hear at places like Catacombs, The DCA and Second Story back in the day. John Michael will take over the turntables at 6pm, bump up the energy and give you two solid hours of 90s house music drenched in piano and organ with infectious bass runs. Since house music was created from disco (check out the drumming on “The Love I Lost” by Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes and tell me that Earl Young wasn’t drumming what we now call house back in 1973), the progression of music Sunday afternoon will make total sense and flow just right. For the last hour, we will tag team with Hi-NRG disco and house and finally bring you down in the last half hour with a few of our favorite morning music and sleaze selections. These more downtempo songs will gently bring the energy back down in the room and hopefully allow you to feel satisfied when you head for home. If home is not the immediate plan for you then these records will cleanse your musical palette as you get ready for whatever’s next on your Sunday night agenda. If you’re curious as to what I mean musically here, I simple have two words for you: Phyllis Hyman.
PM-Okay so Jimmy, while you guys are certainly best friends, have you ever had any “hold my headphones” quarreling moments making music together?
JD-Our quarrels have been far and few between fortunately. Sure there are certain artists that he lives for that I certainly do not understand but I have a few myself that he does’t get either. There’s nothing wrong with that because if we were both exactly the same musically, what fun would it be? We’re forever learning from each other, which is a beautiful thing, and I’m really looking forward to making this little dream of ours a reality together. I’m sure if I ever get around to playing Cut Glass, Johnny Mathis or Hemyl he’ll give me the old side eye but hey, I can’t help liking what I like. I’m sure my face will be the same if he plays “I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper” by Sarah Brightman lol.
PM-Now John Michael, I’ll ask you the same question….
JM-I can’t believe I’m gonna say this in print, but the main thing that comes to mind IS Johnny Mathis. I have NO love for him, no matter how many times Jimmy insists the disco version of “Begin The Beguine” is amazing… Sorry not sorry. Hah!
PM-So…if you guys had to pick a song that best describes each other, what would they be?
JM-Stardust’s “The Music Sounds Better With You”…cause it always does when you’re with friends who “get it.”
JD-“I’ve Got The Music In Me” by The Kiki Dee Band. From the day we were introduced to each other, it was apparent that John Michael lives and breathes music the same way I do. Everything about that song perfectly describes him. It’s also a favorite of his so don’t be surprised if you hear it this Sunday or next month.
PM-One last question guys, why should everyone get their asses to Tavern on Camac this Sunday?
JD-Our main goal is to create a no drama, relaxed Sunday vibe where people who love music can go and hangout. Optimum sound quality is what we’re reaching for and the whole event will take place monthly from only vinyl on two Technics 1100 turntables (the predecessor to the well known 1200) run through a custom built Bozak DLC mixer. So often I hear people asking how come there’s not anything to do on a Sunday afternoon. Now there is and all we need to make it a success is support. This is something new and exciting in the neighborhood and we’re anxious for our friends to come check it out. Sunday parties always seem more intimate any time we attend them together and over time we’ve noticed that the regular attendees form this sort of dance floor family. Taking that into consideration, is there a better place to create something like that then right here in the City of Brotherly Love? I think not. John Michael said it best the other day, it’s the only place where you can have fun on a Sunday for $1 an hour. So please, swing by, grab a drink from Michael Raz and see what FiscoRispoDisco is all about. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
JM-Because it’s the best place for you to go after you leave your boozy Sunday brunch with the best tunes on vinyl for only $1 an hour!
For more on Fisco Rispo Disco, go here.