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Sasha & Digweed @ Avalon, Boston
by sirdante: 11-23-2001

It was an unseasonably warm, late-autumn, Saturday night in Boston. By 7PM a line of people stretched halfway down Lansdowne Street. The locals-- the cops, the spare change bums, and the sausage guy, could have assumed that another Rock & Roll concert had come to town. However, the hip, techno-rich, and club-flashy style of the partygoers who chatted, laughed, and shifted nervously in line, indicated a more aesthetic, less boisterous, event.

A doorman from the Avalon nightclub moved down the line. "This line is for ticket holders only. If you ALREADY have tickets or are BUYING tickets, get in this line. THAT line is for WILL CALL tickets. Meaning, if you are picking up tickets, get in THAT line," he said.

The two lines were indistinct beyond the first few feet from the club, without rope or rail. But the doorman did not have to stop people from pushing, cutting, or behaving in other rowdy and boisterous ways. People were in a sociable and friendly, almost uncharacteristic, mood. Here, under the shadow of Fenway Park, there are days when Lansdowne Street can get ugly, but not this night. This night, November 23, 2001, these people in line were beautiful, happy, and eager to make new friends. They had come to partake in something rarely seen in this uniquely American, fiercely progressive, cosmopolitan town.

They had come here for a taste of ancient tribalism.

Together, they would exist as one with the spirit of music. They would dance and feel the unity of their common love for a dark and primal beat. Paying 3 times the price of admission for a normal Saturday night, these people had a purpose. Tonight, they stood on line, festooned and fashionable in a distinctly Boston way, to see Sasha & Digweed.

"'SACHENDWEE?' they asked. And I was, like, 'no Sasha and Digweed!'" She said.

The young woman next to me in line was telling a story. When she requested the whole weekend off from her job, her coworkers had asked her what she was doing. She had said she was going to see Sasha and Digweed, but they didn't understand.

Peculiar. In a country where most Americans have heard of the least important movie actor, few have heard of these two superstar producer/ DJs, who can command more money in a single month of touring nightclubs than most actors make in an entire year.

Apparently, in pop-icon crazed America, even the world's best DJs are still only known to a set of people who form a particularly esoteric, underground sub-culture. This became even more apparent as we entered the club to see its well-furnished VIP lounge roped off, guarded, and supplied with booze, bouncers, and bartenders, yet surprisingly empty. Sure, there were local DJs, promoters, and other Boston and New York industry types here for the show. But the typical Saturday night crowd had gone elsewhere, chased away by the high price of the tickets and their own fear of the unknown.

Less than a decade earlier, a clubber in Boston would have been hard pressed to find a night of DJ music worth the price of admission on a street that did, and largely still does, cater to the live music scene. Later in the 90s came the vocal house, the return of what the rock & rollers call "disco shit." This night, however, there was Sasha & Digweed, whose unspecified blend of tribal beats, deep trance, and progressive tech-house still wouldn't cut it with the casual clubber in the old town. Absent were the weekend warriors, the cavalier carousers, and most of the regular Lansdowne Street hipsters who still love the toadying vocals and familiar beats of the kind of house that makes its way onto American radio. Present were those who had long ago, relatively speaking, entered the mysterious world of the darker electronic sounds, following these two DJs as they rose to superstardom from clubs like Renaissance in the U.K., through their memorable monthly residence at the infamous club Twilo in NYC, to parties on the isle of Ibiza, and beyond.

If you weren't one of those in attendance that night, please don't blame us if we get a bit arrogant over what we perceive as our own good taste in music. Despite the lack of showing from the locals, the crowd at Avalon in Boston knew something that the rest of the music world had already validated. Digweed was voted the best DJ in the world by the prestigious, and influential, DJ Magazine Top 100 DJ Awards poll. And Sasha, who was number 1 last year, was voted this year's number 2. But don't worry. Even those of us who thought we knew what is what in our scene would leave the venue humbled by what we had just heard.

By the end of the night, we left the steamy ballroom blinded, deafened, exhausted, and enlightened. With beats as old as humankind still resonating in our minds, we stumbled into the gray night feeling like we had just heard the future sound of dance music. We felt elite, having just danced to the freshest tracks, from the hottest producers, spun by the best DJs in the world. We were all glad we came.

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