By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Well known for a lively atmosphere and international and national DJs delivering the best of eclectic and funk-filled sounds, the popular Botafogo Social Club event will make its triumphant return on Saturday, January 30th, and feature a guest appearance by the legendary DJ Keb Darge.
Scheduled to take place at Cordão Bola Preta in Lapa, the upcoming edition will feature DJ Pogo from the UK, DJ Pachu, Daniel Juca from Bangarang Sound System, Marcelinho da Lua from Ya’Ya High-Fi, Tee Cardaci and Alez Paz from the Disco Godfathers and Botafogo Social Club (BSC) parties, and very special guest, Scottish DJ Keb Darge.
“Keb is a true legend in the game,” DJ Tee Cardaci told The Rio Times. “I’ve been playing records professionally for 25 years, which makes me kind of a veteran, but he started doing this four years before I was even born!”
“When you hear him play,” Cardaci added, “you see he’s just as excited about the music now as he was on day one. Add to that a record collection worth more than the GDP of some countries and an insane knowledge of music that even Google would have trouble cataloguing and you start to get Keb Darge. He’s a force of nature.”
Darge’s record collection is central to his career. That collection, which Darge told The Rio Times currently consists of “only” three to four thousand records, was originally inspired by the desire to dance and to impress women.
“At a taekwondo Christmas party in 1973 I saw all the girls staring at three young men who were dancing in a fancy style to strange records,” Darge told The Rio Times. “I asked the young men in question how they danced liked that so that I too could dazzle the ladies. ‘Northern Soul’ was their answer, and they were going to a new club in Wigan that week, would I like to come?”
“At first, I was only interested in the dancing,” Darge continued, “but I used to buy records at Wigan Casino to give to DJs in the north of Scotland so I could have a dance there to try and impress the girls. I couldn’t dance to the pop piss the local DJs were playing at the time. Gradually the records I was dancing too grew on me to the point where I had to have them all.”
“In 1975 one of the DJs whom I had been asking to play my records for me said he wanted to start a soul club in Aberdeen, but that I would have to play my own records as there were so many now, and he didn’t know any of them. I agreed only if he would play a few of them for me to dance to.”
Thus began a career that has stretched over four decades, to date. During that time, Darge became a leading authority on 60s and 70s soul music. He is also the father of the “deep funk” genre.
Darge explained the origin of “deep funk” saying; “I got divorced in 1987, and had to sell my northern soul collection. I had since the early eighties been selling records to the London rare groove DJ’s, but had always kept the ones on interesting looking labels.”
“House and Hip Hop were then taking over London clubs, but I didn’t like either, so I thought I would take ‘rare groove’ a lot deeper than it had gone. The name Deep Funk was just a name of a night I put on in London with Snowboy. I thought the name explained that we were now digging a lot deeper than had been in the past.”
“It didn’t work so well at first, and Snowboy left to focus on his jazz dance nights. I then stumbled across an empty club called Madame Jo Jo’s, and asked if I could put on a night there. It was a lovely club, and well situated, but I never expected it to go as well as it did. We were packed out every week for eighteen years.”
The BSC party will mark Darge’s debut in Rio de Janeiro. When asked his thoughts about coming to the city, Darge said; “I am indeed excited. My image of Brazil is of a country full of people who love to dance. I also like sunshine, London is cold and miserable now. My only worry is that people will be expecting a funk and soul set. I have moved on from those days.”
Just as Darge’s record collection has grown and evolved over the years, so have his sets. In addition to deep funk, funk, and soul, Darge is considered an authority on numerous other genres including rockabilly, surf and 60s garage. Darge recently worked with Cut Chemist on a 60s garage compilation.
“Cut Chemist actually tried to get me into sixties garage about fifteen years ago when I was staying at his house,” said Darge. “At the time I was not interested as I was chasing other things. Then when BBE asked me to do another volume of ‘Legendary Wild Rockers’ last year I said ‘no, I want to do a garage comp.’ As luck would have it that week Cut phoned me from Australia for a general chit chat, he was on tour, and out getting drunk with my tour promoter over there. I instantly remembered his garage records and put the idea to him.”
When asked about future projects Darge replied; “DJ Shadow is my next target for doing a garage comp with, as he too tried to get me to listen to the stuff when I was at his house. Oh… I should have listened to these young men back then. Now there are so many records I want, and not enough time or money to get them all before I die.. he he he.”
Tee Cardaci when speaking about the upcoming BSC event and Darge said; “I can’t wait to see what he’ll bring to the party, in terms of music. Although he’s known as the father of the “deep funk” scene, his taste stretches far beyond that in to all sorts of obscure sounds. No matter what genre he plays, his taste is impeccable. We’re just going to sit back and let him do his thing.”
Explaining the venue choice of popular party location and home to one of Rio de Janeiro’s most historic Carnival blocos, Cordão Bola Preta, Cardaci said; “Ever since I went to my first party at Bola Preta some years ago, knew I wanted to do an event there one day.”
Adding “I think something about the space reminds me of the old days, raving in warehouses. There’s no VIP, no tables for bottle service and no unnecessary bullshit. Just a big old dark space to get down in and a sound system to match. The fact that it’s connected to such a historic Carnival bloco is just a cool added bonus. There’s history in those old brick walls.”
There is also history to the Botafogo Social Club. The collective was formed in 2010 by five foreign DJs, Cardaci, Dan Markham, Mike Frugaletti, Jan Roldanus and Doug Gray. Together they began throwing eclectic, funk filled parties in the neighborhood of Botafogo and around the city. The five eventually became a popular DJ collective. They hosted many parties and welcomed well-known international guest DJs including Gilles Peterson, before going their separate ways.
Asked how he felt about the upcoming party and if it marked the return of BSC parties, Cardaci said; “I couldn’t be more excited to be doing another BSC event after all this time! After life took us (Mike Frugaletti, Jan Roldanus, Doug Gray, Dan Markham) in different directions, we had to put things on hiatus for a while. Now, not only are there going to be more BSC events coming up in Rio, we’re planning two reunion parties in the UK with all the original residents in July.”
Cordão Bola Preta’s doors will open at 10PM on Saturday, January 30th.
What: Botafogo Social Club with Keb Darge
When: Saturday, January 30th, 10PM
Where: Cordão Bola Preta, Rua da Relação, 3 – Lapa
Entrance: R$30 – R$40