Do The Death Disco

“I think the future of dance music is in alternative spaces, where there’s minimal security and a more natural ambience.”


Philly promoter Dave Pianka plays variations on the weekly party theme with Making Time.
By Daphne Carr

In the notoriously fickle hipster crowd of Philadelphia, promoter Dave Pianka found a common theme. Kids were bored by rock and roll nights at shabby bars and distanced from the idea of “real” dance club by the exclusionary door politics and fake glamour that such venues tend to cultivate.
Pianka’s party Making Time takes a sweaty rock vibe, twists in the glam of big night out, and puts it in a space large enough to feel like the real thing. His DJs spin post punk, new wave, electro, and ’60s soul with the occasional mash-up or kitschy industrial track just to set things off, not that anyone needs a reason to dance. Every month, Making Time draws a huge crowd while continuing to highlight and even define the indie/college set’s neophyte aesthetic.
The DJs are what makes the party, but the big bonus is Pianka’s choice to include one live band a night, usually an up-and-coming act like Adult., The Hives, or Interpol in the 18+ main room. He hires punk rock soundman Jon Hiltz, from northern New Jersey, to provide live sound support and credits this part of the evening not with drawing more dancers, but keeping them truly entertained. “It’s not like a show. You don’t have all the kids with their arms folded, standing in the back row. The band and the crowd is prepared to be interactive and both sides put out more enthusiasm.” And with one band playing a fiery 40 minutes at 11pm, the party has a natural breath and then kicks back into mad dancing.
The 800 plus people that pack into Transit, Making Time’s home, honor the night as the premier evening out in Philadelphia. Women dress to the nines (mostly ’79 and ’89), and men turn cuff to their finest James Bond or other retro hero, resulting in a crowd overblown, out of control and ready to exploit their costumes to the fullest.

From Kegger to Franchise
Pianka, who set his Masters in physical therapy on the shelf in order to exploit his promotions talents to the fullest, first booked a DJ for his own house party, a raging six-kegger full of drunken bastards who would jump in front of the decks just to make the DJ nervous. “I did a bunch of parties, and they were great until some people started getting out of control and tried to throw kegs off my roof at cars. Actually, they did do that, so I had to stop so I wouldn’t get kicked out of my building.”
His first Making Time, in May 2000, was intended as a one-off party celebrating the city’s three biggest bar nights — Sorted, the Turnaround and Rock and Roll Overdose — in the safety and comfort of a place that didn’t double as his bedroom. With two weeks of promotion through 500 copies of a flyer made at Kinko’s, he brought in 650 people. Offered a monthly gig by Transit, Pianka decided to do the party on a semi-frequent basis and has come to set the standard for all indie/punk events in Philadelphia.
Making Time, as an idea, feeds off the success of mod/hipster nights like New York City’s long-standing Shout party at Bar 13 and has been instrumental in the creation of other rock n’ roll parties starting across the East Coast and beyond. “The best parties in the world right now, like Nag Nag Nag or Trash, Motherf*cker or Optimo, are all about mixing up genres,” said Pianka. “Things happen so fast now — trends, media events — that single genre parties just can’t offer people what they want to hear. So now, like with mash-ups, you’re getting Missy Elliot with some obscure Bobby O track underneath. I’ll drop Marilyn Manson on the dancefloor and not feel guilty about it because I like the track and know people will be into it too.”
Making Time has helped Pianka spawn other Philly parties; the electro-themed Click and, most recently, Fire in the Disco, a rock/electro/house crossover weekly named after an Electric Six song with a rather untimely recent popularity. “Actually, the club where I do the party keeps trying to confiscate my flyers. They want me to change the name of the night, because their liquor sponsors are so sensitive to the title after Rhode Island. But I won’t do it. The flyers are so great.”

A Megaclub Allergy Pays Off
Considerably more drama comes from his Making Time experience, though; he seems to be allergic to the megaclub mentality. “I’m so sick of the idea of big clubs – their confrontational security and distrustful management. I’ve been running a successful party for three years and you’d think I’d be getting some sort of recognition – respect – from the club. With a high turnover and volatile staff, all I get is strange looks, managers picking fights with artists – something that loses money for all of us – and skyrocketing venue charges, bar charges. All the promoters in this city are getting sick of this antagonistic relationship. And, just like the idea of mixing up genres, I think the future of dance music is in alternative spaces, where there’s minimal security and a more natural ambience than the dehumanized inside of a big club.”
Whether in Transit, or a VFW Hall, Making Time is assured success so long as Pianka, who also runs a street promotions and marketing company called RVNG, stays in sync with Philadelphia’s hipster brigade and the increasingly worldwide indie (rock) dance culture waiting to snap some of the music and fan-first DIY ethic back into clubland.
Copyright 2003 Club Systems International Magazine
Copyright 2003 TESTA Communications