Jake Rudh is a classy guy, but he doesn't want us to know it. Tucked into a window seat at the cozy south Minneapolis bistro Café Maude, Rudh is simultaneously detailing his love for vintage clothing and furniture, making self-deprecating remarks about his scarf and swank surroundings, and apologizing for ordering a "frou frou" drink.
"This is going into the article, isn't it?" Rudh asks, smiling sheepishly as he holds up a champagne flute filled with a fizzy yellow gin concoction. "All my rocker friends are going to be like, 'What the hell are you doing, dude?'"
Rudh has been entrenched in the Twin Cities music scene so deeply and for such a long time that he's practically a human landmark, a steadfast contributor to the community who has outlasted more than a few venues. As a DJ, he's been working parties since he was 17, clubs since he turned 21, and weddings and corporate events whenever and wherever the opportunity arises. He has worked in nearly every sector of the music industry, from record stores to radio stations to A&R departments. And this Friday, after holding down his popular weekly new wave and Britpop-heavy dance night, Transmission, for an entire decade, Rudh will move it from its current home at Clubhouse Jäger into downtown Minneapolis for a special one-off anniversary blowout in the First Avenue Mainroom.
"This is the first time that I've ever commanded the entire club for an entire night," Rudh says, grinning.
Over the years, the recurring night that began as "Sound and Vision" (a name borrowed from a David Bowie song) has moved from the long-defunct Sursumcorda to the Imperial Room, the Loring Pasta Bar in Dinkytown, and the Hexagon Bar in south Minneapolis before landing at Clubhouse Jäger in 2007.
"Transmission, these days, is more of a retro dance party," Rudh explains. "I still play new indie stuff, because it complements a lot of the new-wave post-punk music so well, but I'm noticing that most people want to hear a Ramones song or an XTC song or a Britpop or Pulp song. So I give them what they want. I love it, 'cause I love playing my favorite kind of music."
In addition to providing audiophiles with an alternative to the typical electronic, hip-hop, or Top 40 pop-heavy dance formats, Rudh has worked to cultivate an atmosphere that is welcoming and warm. He describes his core audience as "unpretentious, inquisitive music heads who love having a great time. There is no ego in that joint. There are people from all walks of life. There's people from 21 all the way into their 50s that hang out there and dance and dig the scene and the vibe and the tunes, and I love that."
And, if necessary, Rudh is on hand to help keep the happy times flowing. His eyes light up as he recounts a particularly heroic tale of dance-floor patrolling. "Sometimes people will stumble their way down Washington from the sports bar, and they'll be drunk and they'll make an ass of themselves and make a horrible scene—like two weeks ago, a jock-type bro dude came in, and he was making fun of the way one of my regulars was dancing. And I was infuriated. I literally left the DJ booth, and I was like, 'I'm sorry, are you making fun of the person doing cool moves on the floor here?' He was so taken aback. I'm just like, 'No, that's not tolerated here. We don't go for that shit here.' It's a really safe environment. We have a lot of females that come down and have a blast because they know they're not going to be macked on by—I hate the term," he says, leaning across the table and lowering his voice, "but, you know, d-bags."
As for keeping his crowd upright and dancing all night long, Rudh says he's been DJing for so long that it's practically old hat by now. "I've been doing this ever since I've been old enough to walk into a club," he reflects. "It's purely the love of music. That's why I do it, that's why I still continue to do it. And I see no end in sight. I will always DJ, I think. I probably won't be doing it as much as I do now, but it's part of who I am."
"It's almost an art form," he says, chuckling as he sweeps his hand through the air dramatically. "The dance floor is my canvas."