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Leisure Suite at Bar 107

By Monk Turner
Published: Tuesday, July 14, 2009, at 09:51AM
Starskee Suavé and Jon Hershfield Monk Turner [Flickr]

I thought I had found the perfect spot to conduct my interview. Far from the crowds and high in the DJ booth overlooking the dance floor. Quite inaccessible. Jon Hershfield told me otherwise.

"We can do the interview here for right now but you're not going to be able to sit there once we get started."

"But this is the DJ booth..."

"Once things get underway, people will be dancing everywhere including the bar back who likes to dance on this table."

I can think of no better introduction to the nostalgic pandemonium that ensues once a month as the Leisure Suite invades Bar 107. As I spoke with the mad scientists behind the monthly event, it became clear why they keep packing in the crowds every month.

MONK TURNER: How did you guys come up with the idea behind Leisure Suite?

JON HERSHFIELD: The idea behind Leisure Suite, which is 70s versus 80s, really happened organically. I saw a Craigslist posting that Bar 107 was looking for DJs and I was looking for a place to spin music- mostly electronic music. So I pitched myself to them and they were like, "we hate electronic music." So I said I'd play some indie music, some 80s music, whatever - just give me a night. It was 9pm til 2am and I didn't know how I was going to pull off five hours without playing any of the music that I'm accustomed to playing. I had just recently become friends with Starskee when we were both doing radio shows at killradio.org. I knew that he had some DJ experience and I invited him to come hang out.

STARSKEE SUAVÉ: When you contacted me you were like, "I don't want to do this all by myself. Why don't you come in and we can trade off." I was like, "all right lets give it a shot." The whole thing was supposed to be like, "ok you're going to do it for free and we're going to see what you're all about." And by the end of the evening...

JH: ...they were so impressed with the music that came out they gave us money and we were like "what is this for?" We didn't even understand about getting paid yet. The thing that resonated most with the audience here were songs that you knew when you were young. Especially the audience here at Bar 107 is people in their late 20s early 30s. It's not a college area. It's downtown. It's a little bit different. So 70s and 80s music really resonates here. So I just said I'm going to stick to everything from 1980 to 1993, which is when the 80s ended, and Starskee is going to do his 70s thing and we're going to go back and forth.

MT: How long have you guys been doing it?

JH: Unbelievably we just realized that it has been three years since we started doing this.

SS: Yeah.

JH: It started as an experiment and then it became a thing. Final Saturdays every month at Bar 107. This place gets packed. I don't know who deserves the credit, if it's us or Bar 107. I just know that when people come, they stay and dance.

MT: Have you seen it evolve over time?

JH: The night has definitely grown. It's downtown so it starts late. I think what happens is people go out to the usual stomping grounds and then they come back downtown around 11pm and they just want to finish off the night with some philandering. That's what we provide: the ability to go out and have a blast.

MT: And if someone wants to come to Leisure Suite, what time should they arrive so they aren't waiting outside for an hour to get in?

SS: 10pm or 10:30pm. If you don't like coming out that early, make it 11pm at the latest.

JH: We start spinning at 10pm but the place is just insane by midnight. And it is all very sudden. It is like a bus drops them off or something. [laughter] I try to time the things that I play, particularly the old school hip hop set when there is going to be the most audience. They're going to be singing along and jumping up and down and really getting into it because the atmosphere we create here people really enjoy.

SS: Yes, but we also put out the gems all night long. We don't exactly, you know, hold back. We may just hit em' a little harder later on.

MT: Speaking of gems, when are you guys going to add the 90s to the mix?

SS: By 2030.

Leisure Suit takes place at Bar 107 (107 W. 4th) on the last Saturday of the month and is free of charge. More info can be found at http://www.myspace.com/theleisuresuite. The night kicks off around 10pm and platform boots or checkered dancing shoes are highly recommended.

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Music Profiles

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