By Sean Yoes
AFRO Baltimore Editor
syoes@afro.com

The Living Legend, Louie Vega, arguably  the greatest House Music DJ on earth played the Baltimore Soundstage on March 8.

Vega was in Baltimore at the invitation of his friend Ultra Nate (another House legend in her own right) for the venerable “Deep Sugar” party hosted by Nate and her partner DJ Lisa Moody. 

Nate and Moody have been bringing the Deep Sugar party to Baltimore and around the nation for more than a dozen years. And to those in the know (if you belong) the duo is essentially the female version of Vega and his partner Kenny “Dope” Gonzales, the “Masters at Work.”

So, I bought my ticket from Moody for Louie’s set almost a month in advance.

But, I remember the week before Deep Sugar was even more hectic than usual; the AFRO was beginning the interview process for Baltimore mayoral candidates and I was in the middle of moving, among other things. So, the day of the show, I was tired and regretfully, I tapped out. But I thought to myself, I had seen Vega play before, I’ll see him again. And in the meantime, I’ll just catch the next Deep Sugar next month.

Sean Yoes, AFRO Baltimore Editor.

The best-laid plans right?

Who knew the world would literally be turned upside down the first week of March? Yes, three days earlier on March 5, Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency because of the coronavirus pandemic. But, to his credit, Hogan was clearly ahead of the curve in combating the deadly threat of COVID-19.

Subsequently, the catastrophic timeline of events related to the coronavirus scourge that unfolded during March has effectively shut down the country. In the burgeoning age of social distancing, large crowds can literally kill you. So, the thought of me and my friends engaging in an hours-long House Music catharsis seems to be out of the question for the foreseeable future. For some of us that is a tragedy.

But, like Black people generally, House Music culture is incredibly resilient and remarkably adaptable. So, we just shifted to the internet; social distancing has forced us to move the party to social media.

Probably the first big time DJ to do a set on-line was the Hip Hop legend, DJ D-Nice, the DJ and producer for Hip Hop god KRS-1.

Over the last several weeks hundreds of DJ’s representing several genres have brought their music to millions around the world using Instagram, Facebook and other platforms.

Last weekend, I joined the on-line party via Facebook. Friday night, DJ Brian “Biskit” Hardy started his set by turning back the clock to the early 1980’s and taking us all back to North Ave., and the mythical Odell’s. DJ Biskit, who has been a king of the Baltimore dance clubs and airwaves for decades took hundreds of us on a musical journey that spanned the classics to the modern-day bangers.

On Saturday night, the other man (besides the aforementioned Vega) many argue is the greatest House DJ on earth, Black Coffee took the world stage via Facebook. The South African sensation’s world beat flavored House set rolled with the ferocity of a freight train and tens of thousands on-line around the globe were thrilled by the ride.

Then on Sunday night, the man I dubbed “the Icon,” DJ Tanz brought it all home for hundreds of us listening in. I first heard Tanz, who is the younger brother of my friend and Walbrook classmate Tishia Davidson, when he DJ’d a house party for her at age 12.

Tanz, who may be the most versatile DJ in Baltimore (which is a huge deal!), is masterful in House, Baltimore Club, Hip-Hop, Ratchet R&B, all of it. Listening to him on Sunday night, I could see the sweat, feel the humidity and smell the baby powder in my mind’s eye.

If you tap into the live comments during the DJ sets you get to see who else is listening. And when you see old friends vibing with you, flipping out when their favorite track from back in the day gets played, it gives you a surge of good feeling and often a rush of beautiful memories.

It may not be the same as the magic we made at Odell’s, Paradox,Cignal and Club Fantasy, but until we dance again, Facebook DJ sets will have to do.

Give thanks.

Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Baltimore editor and the author of Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.

Sean Yoes

AFRO Baltimore Editor