The Last Days of Disco

Open playlists. Mixed audiences. Women's mud wrestling. Ample coke. What ever happened to the Minneapolis club scene?

"Eventually, a lot of the English bands came to Minneapolis to record at Flyte Time," Edgar notes. "ABC wanted to do stuff with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis; they even did a B-side called 'Minneapolis' that was just like the [Jam-and-Lewis-produced] SOS Band."

About 10 years later, in the early '90s, a new "Minneapolis sound" would make waves in English dance circles as the analog, synth-heavy techno of local producers such as Woody McBride and Freddie Fresh helped put Minnesota techno on the map. For years Fresh has been concentrating his DJ sets on the funky music he cut his teeth on in the early '80s, playing roller rinks and nightclubs in both Minneapolis and the Bronx. And McBride's acid sound--made possible by the pitch-bending of Roland's TB-303 bass synthesizer--has direct antecedents in the twisting crunch and snarl of electro's crisp, warped textures.

Ultimately, the genre's eclecticism continues to guide the spiritual fabric of local dance culture. Unlike many major cities where all-night parties feature one specific genre, the raves McBride threw in warehouses during the mid-'90s were carefully programmed to move from house to techno to gabber to drum 'n' bass--much in the roller-rink tradition of spinning a couples dance, a rocker, and a novelty tune. "The goal," as Kevin Cole puts it, "was to get away with as much as possible."

Looking for the perfect beat: Kevin Cole
Greg Helgeson
Looking for the perfect beat: Kevin Cole

Fifteen years after the heyday of Minneapolis club life, world dance culture has become increasingly fragmented. In 1998 every stripe of the dance spectrum has its own specialized audience, stylistic boundaries go up like track housing, and a separate-but-equal mentality keeps different audiences at a safe distance. Although many of the different dance camps will listen to the seminal Perfect Beats, they won't be doing it together.

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