DJ Tim Sweeney Dishes on the Declining Club Scene

Over the past decade, no record label has become more synonymous with New York's dance music scene than the DFA. In the aftermath of hedonistic club culture's city-wide collapse (marked by the closing of mega clubs like Twilo in 2001) and in the face of rock's Strokes-lead resurgence, the DFA quickly courted downtown's dance-minded set with a new sound, a mix of punky guitar stabs and low-slung disco bass lines. One of the most essential members of DFA's ever-growing roster has been Tim Sweeney, and he's acted as ambassador of the label's signature sound since the get-go, DJing parties like PS1's acclaimed summertime Warm Up series and hosting Beats in Space, his Tuesday night dance music radio show on WNYU's 89.1FM.

Niteside recently caught up with Sweeney to talk New York club culture, dodging hurled drinks during DJ sets and dance parties at the Ukrainian National Home.

What did you do last night? I was doing the "best of 2009" mix on my Beats In Space radio show on WNYU 89.1FM.

What are you doing tonight? Trying to get some sleep before I head to the airport for my flight to Paris and the big Beats In Space 10th Anniversary party I will be doing there with Superpitcher and Optimo.

What's your best nightlife encounter? The mixed drink thrown at me in Sydney, Australia, last November.

What's your advice for DC ladies man Peter Orszag? I think I need some advice from him on how he's making the nerd look sexy! I want that to work for me!

How did club culture change in New York during the last decade? Are we better off now then we were when, say, a super club like Twilo was in its heyday? The club scene has definitely gotten a lot smaller here in New York over the last 10 years. So many legendary clubs have closed their doors and there just aren't the new venues opening up to take their place. I think it's hurt the music scene here for sure, but of course, there's always going to be stuff going on. I think now it's just more underground.

You've played at some of the city's best venues, from APT to Studio
B. What's been your favorite? PS1! Their summer series (curated by DJ Spun) is one of the best parties in the city. I think every DJ who plays it always says it's their favorite gig of the year.

As a fan, what's your favorite spot in the city to see a DJ set? Hearing David Mancuso DJ at his Loft party in the Ukrainian National Home (right next to Veselka). The music, the sound system, the balloons and the people make it something really special.

Beats in Space just celebrated its 500th show, quite an accomplishment. What has been the most memorable guest set? It's tough to name just one after 500 shows! But in 2009, I really enjoyed Harvey's guest set on the show. He was such a character. Had me laughing the whole time. He's coming back on the show next Tuesday too, so let's see how he does the second time around!

How did you get hooked up with DFA? When and where did you first meet James Murphy and how did you two bond? I hooked up with them back around 2000 or early 2001 when I was DJing at Plant Bar in the East Village. Luke Jenner, the singer for The Rapture, was the bartender there and said I really needed to meet these guys who were producing their band. I hit it off really well with Tim
Goldsworthy and James Murphy when I met them and just asked if I could help out in the studio. After that, I just became part of the DFA family!

DFA really changed the way New Yorkers dance, fusing electronic sounds with rock and disco. What were those early parties like and what was the general reaction? Did the buzz build quick? After those first two records from DFA ("House Of Jealous Lovers" by The Rapture and "Losing My Edge" by LCD Soundsystem) the buzz around DFA was huge. Everyone was just so excited. It was a new sound and something refreshing for people. Those early parties were great though. Just a bunch of excited people who were all our friends!

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