After Jubilee blew us all away at the Pinhook in February, I received a tweet from New York DJ Ripley saying she was also interested in paying the Pinhook a visit. I first stumbled upon Ripley when I followed a new friend into the dark bas(s)ment of Club Six in San Francisco in 2010 and heard some of the grimiest bass I’ve ever encountered from her and the rest of her Surya Dub crew. Ever since then, I have been a huge fan, and have gone down many a musical rabbit-hole listening to her sets. In fact, I have been exposed to entirely new genres of music through Ripley.

On November 15th, Ripley will be making her way to the Pinhook to perform with Birdgherl, One Duran and I (PlayPlay) at Durham’s wildest dance party, Party Illegal.

(Full disclosure: I promote Party Illegal and am one of the DJs on this month’s bill)

DJ Ripley

DJ Ripley

Ripley currently resides in NYC and is a member of the adventurous and globally-minded Dutty Artz collective alongside Geko Jones, DJ Rupture, Ushka and several others. She is also a founding member of the aforementioned Surya Dub collective in San Francisco, voted by the SF Guardian in 2008 as the “best ambassadors of dread bass.” Ripley has been tearing up dance floors with her notoriously bass-heavy sets across 19 countries and three continents since 1995. Known for her adventurous blending of global sounds with the familiar, she successfully, in her words, makes “the familiar strange and the strange familiar.” On any given night with Ripley, you might hear azonto, cumbia, kuduro, afrobeats, baile funk, tuki, bhangra, dembow, jungle, soca, dancehall, grime, kunq, balkan beats, uzbek pop, electro cha3abi, dub, ballroom, kwaito and more, with the common denominator always being heavy, heavy bass.

During the day, Ripley is Larisa Mann, Visiting Assistant Professor in the Music and the Performing Arts Professions department at New York University. Larisa holds a PhD in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from Berkley Law. Her specialization is in copyright law and she has conducted extensive research on music production in Jamaica. She combines activism with scholarship in her ethnographic work exploring how marginalized communities utilize musical expression and the ways outside institutions interact with these communities. Larisa’s scholarly activism clearly crosses over into her DJ sets, where she celebrates a wide range of musical expression from around the globe.

Now, onto our locals:

DJ Birdgherl

DJ Birdgherl; photo by Eric Waters

Birdgherl is Areli Barrera De Grodski, owner of Cocoa Cinnamon and a bright light in the Durham community. Her high-energy sets are loaded with global sounds, particularly zouk, moombahton, reggaeton, baile funk, tropical bass and perrero. She blends these sounds flawlessly with juke, footwork, and deep house. She is a regular DJ at the Pinhook, and if you have ever seen one of her sets, you know she kills it every time.

One Duran

One Duran

One Duran, aka Darren Hunicutt is co-host and resident DJ on WXYC’s New Science Experience mix show and is behind the Actual Dancing parties at the Nightlight in Chapel Hill. In the past, he has thrown raging dance parties in Chapel Hill at venues such as Tallulas, Fuse and the infamous Hell. Stylistically, he selects from a wide range. You’ll hear everything from house to jungle to hip-hop to UK funky in his sets. He’s played with Ripley before, and is excited to join her again at Party Illegal.

DJ PlayPlay; photo by Caroline Lima Photography

DJ PlayPlay; photo by Caroline Lima Photography

And then there’s me. I’ll let someone else write about me. In the meantime, here’s a link to my bio: This Saturday, I will be pulling heavily from the genres of juke, 90’s house and moombahton, but other than that, anything could happen. I am just looking forward to sharing a stage with three of my DJ heroes.

Party Illegal, the brainchild of Queen Plz (Laura Friederich) and the Durty Durham Collective, is getting ready to celebrate its second birthday. In the past two years, this rapidly growing party has brought in big-name artists such as Jubilee, Cakes Da Killa, MikeQ, Starkey, Giraffage, Branchez, Ira IV, TT the Artist, and Mighty Mark and has seen consistently near-capacity crowds. Even so, the party organizers give special care to feature a variety of local DJs from different backgrounds and to create an all-inclusive, safe and consensual space for dancing with ongoing conversations between the organizers, DJs, and event goers. The Pinhook, a radical venue with consent posters lining the walls, gender-neutral bathrooms and a queer-friendly atmosphere, is the perfect space for this monthly dance party and the resulting conversations.

Party like it is about to be Illegal

Party like it is about to be Illegal

Party Illegal is really looking forward to having Ripley take the stage and initiate a musical conversation that we haven’t heard much of since the party’s inception: that of global bass. Be prepared to sweat and learn, Durham.

The Pinhook, 117 W Main St, Durham, 10-2am, $8, age 18+

Follow the Party Illegal facebook page for updates!

Facebook event

Join the conversation: #PartyIllegal

Jess Dilday is Clarion Content's current Editor-in-Chief and regular contributor. Jess originally moved to Durham to be a part of vibrant communities centered on music, art, and activism. Jess sees Durham as a place where people don’t just sit at a bar and talk about great ideas and rad projects - we put them into action. Their other alias is DJ and producer, PlayPlay. PlayPlay is in a constant musical conversation with the public, speaking across generation, race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality to create an all-inclusive dance floor. PlayPlay has opened for Big Freedia, MC Lyte, TT the Artist, Dai Burger, Double Duchess, Le1f, Jubilee, MikeQ, Cakes Da Killa and others. They are also one of the organizers and resident DJs behind Party Illegal (a monthly dance party in Durham) as well as the creator and organizer of several themed parties at the Pinhook, including the Dreaming of the 90's and Dark Entries parties.

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