Mixed in Montclair: DJ brings spirit of NYC’s Danceteria back to life
Former radio DJ and Montclair resident Rafe Gomez is bringing the ambiance of a staple ’80s New York City club to your speakers.
Danceteria REWIND is a weekly two-hour music-filled show on Twitch, a live-streaming platform. His show pays tribute to Danceteria, a New York City nightclub that closed during the mid-’80s.
Danceteria had three locations in New York City and four in the Hamptons, but the best-known location was the multiple-floor club at 30 West 21st St. in Manhattan. The last NYC location closed in 1986, and the Hamptons locations in the mid-1990s.
“When you walked into Danceteria you felt that you were part of something that was happening and going to be,” Gomez, who had been a patron of the club when it was still operating, said.
Each floor of the club had different music and DJs playing, with one floor entirely dedicated to video and visual art. The music is what stuck out the most for Gomez, who said that on any given night you would never know what you were going to hear.
From punk to English new wave to Latin and salsa, Danceteria was where clubbers would go to hear what was emerging in the world of music, he said.
The musical legacy of Danceteria is revived through Danceteria REWIND, Gomez's passion project inspired by his ample free time during the initial coronavirus pandemic quarantine.
"During the pandemic I realized I had nothing fun to look forward to and no hobbies," Gomez said. "It came to me that I need to do something that is challenging to a part of my brain that I haven't stimulated in years."
That's when Gomez found Twitch, a live-streaming platform popular with gamers and DJs, and decided to use his DJ skills to bring back a nostalgic era of music and experimentation. Gomez produces and streams the show from a mini studio he has set up in his Montclair home, and he is sticking as close to the original Danceteria DJ style as possible.
The tracks he uses for the show are not the radio edits people are used to, and are not available for consumer purchases. He converts vinyls meant only for DJs in order to play exactly what would have been played at Danceteria.
Following the ways of the original Danceteria DJs, Gomez mixes the show's music through a method called beat-matching, where the tempo of songs is adjusted, so the beats of one sync up with those of the next for a clean transition. While doing this technique, he is also building up the beats per minute. The show starts with a slower-beat song, such as a reggae tune, and then with each subsequent song, the tempo picks up — perhaps to an English new wave, then eventually something even faster, like punk.
Gomez describes this method of DJings as "one song breathing into the other."
Because the show's music builds from slow to fast, Gomez says he gets many viewers that have told him that they use the show as background to their workouts.
Since Danceteria REWIND's first show in February, Gomez has reached a broad audience, with past Danceteria club-goers listening to reminisce, and young people who weren't yet born during Daceteria's heyday.
He attributes the younger audience to the sampling of Danceteria-style era music in modern music by artists like Billie Eilish and Lizzo.
Gomez doesn't advertise the show on any social media platforms, and the weekly streams are not recorded. To listen and experience the aura of ‘80s NYC nightlife, tune in Thursdays from 8 to 10 p.m. at Twitch.tv/danceteriarewind.