After 22 years as a DJ, I've only recently discovered first hand that dancing is intrinsic.
My daughter, Josalyn, was born two years ago, and she is continually showing me new things. One of the first acts to express her joy to my wife, Desiree, and myself, was dance. Well, shake really, but to music. Now, you should see her rock her hips to "Whoomp! (There It Is)" and "God's Plan." Her dance is offbeat magic, purely from a place of joy.
Watching her made me realize that the desire to dance is something that we all have in us, even if we all use different steps. As we grow older we may lose our innate urge to dance for a number of reasons: old-age, self-consciousness, perceived lack of skill. Whatever the reason is, it certainly is not lack of opportunity. In Charleston, it's easy to dance because our environment and community provide us with more reasons to shake booty than most of the world. We really should re-name it to the "Get Low Country."
Location, location, location
The Get Low Country provides us with jaw-dropping backdrops for parties. The combination of water, palmetto trees and that painted sky are unparalleled. The benefit that we have over so many places is that we get to party outside nine months out of the calendar year. This is why our wedding industry is booming, constantly, and garners national attention.
Charlestonians can dance on the way to islands that you can only reach by boat, and then dance there. There is no shortage of rooftop bars downtown, such as Uptown Social, that allow visitors to groove underneath the South Carolina stars. Locals and tourists can show-out outside at a ballpark during Charleston Riverdogs games on Thursday evenings or an outdoor concert with a major artist at Riverfront Park or on Daniel Island. You can dance on any beach, all weekend long. Location is everything.
Dancing is not a strictly nocturnal activity in our area. It shouldn't be, dancing is fun and fun should never be limited. Luckily, here in Chucktown we realized that a long time ago.
The Post and Courier has documented the popularity of brunch parties every weekend. Let me emphasize that, these are parties to the maximum level. I've seen things that would be astonishing at 3 a.m. in a back alley happen after chicken and waffles on a Sunday afternoon. After you recover from brunch, grab a ride share to the Windjammer on Isle of Palms for late afternoon tunes that will inspire you to jump around. If you still have the energy, grab another Bud Light and head out for the nightlife.
When I first moved to Charleston from Providence, Rhode Island and still had that foolish Yankee pride, I was surprised that this small area in the South had DJ talent. I was young, dumb and forced to step my game up. Eleven years have passed since my misjudgment and the talent is much stronger.
I would put the DJ talent in Charleston against most major cities, certainly any city in the Southeast. We have DJs that excel in every genre of music and some who deserve to be on major stages touring on their own. DJs like DJ Precise, DJ United, Sparkbox, rDOT and Y-Not constantly leave this award-winning DJ feeling like I need more practice. The talent in the North area especially does not get enough recognition. Oftentimes, the awards from publications are bestowed on downtown DJs but a lot of simply amazing DJs have residencies on Dorchester Road and Ashley Phosphate. Shouts to DJ Kub, Vince D, Tantrum and everyone else working hard.
Clubs are back
I always heard stories about Level 2 and Tango. I was transplanted too late to see the downtown area nightlife scene in its prime. When I arrived, the nightlife scene was shifting from actual clubs to restaurants turned dance parties. Level 2 and Tango were gone, Purple Tree had closed, Light was turned off and Trio was in limbo. You saw places like O-Ku move tables away, cover the sushi and become a dance hall. The restaurants stepped in to cover the under-served local desire to dance, and it worked for a time.
Fast forward to 2018 and we again have multiple club options downtown. Trio, Deco and a few more exist solely to make patrons dance dressed to the nines, without serving chicken wings. Still, the bars and restaurants maintain popularity as dance destinations and provide Charleston's guests with musical and personal style options.
Nate Lopes - DJ NattyHeavy – a prolific local DJ and radio host whose skills can be appreciated everywhere from clubs, to weddings, to Charleston RiverDogs’ games.