Remember when MTV actually played music videos? When the channel's original programming didn't center solely on the lifestyles of over-privileged youth, but instead focused on unique ways for viewers to experience new music? That's just what Coco Madrid had in mind when dreaming up monthly dance party SNAP!—a night dedicated to the soundtrack and style of the '90s.
"I wanted to mimic Club MTV [a live, half-hour program filmed at the Palladium, an NYC dance club]," Madrid, 26, explains. "I would be Downtown Julie Brown [the show's host], and we could have Freaky Outty as the resident DJ. I knew he loved Miami Bass and some other awesome genres of the early '90s." Minus the TV screens as background, SNAP! retains many elements of the show (which aired from 1987 to 1992)—from DJs playing recorded music to live performances and an attentive crowd ready to bust a move. The night even airs afterward, albeit in a much more modern format—the podcast.
In fact, Madrid met Freaky Outty (Palmer Auty to his mother) and fellow SNAP! resident DJ Colin Jones (a.k.a. Chuck Brokaw) while working at Portland Radio Authority, the once-pirate, now-Internet radio station that airs the podcast (see "Shipwrecked," WW, March 8, 2006). Madrid, who describes herself as "silly and fun-loving" yet "super-focused," is PRA's events manager, while both DJs host weekly shows (Brokaw's Big Green Jones Show on Sundays and Black Bot Radio with Freaky Outty on Thursdays).
The threesome isn't alone when it comes to reviving '90s dance music: Popular acts like Tampa's Yo Majesty, with its stripped beats and explicit rhymes, or petite Parisian rapper Uffie, who even name-checks totally '90s dance move the Tootsie Roll on "Pop the Glock," tend toward '90s kitsch—a trend Madrid's well aware of. "I thought, 'Wouldn't it be great if Portland had a '90s night that didn't include frat boys, beers sluts and a faux cowboy tavern?'" she says of SNAP!'s inception. Madrid capitalized on local discotheque Branx's newish status, and booker Noah Mickens gave it the green light. The running man had found a home on the east bank.
Debuting this past July, SNAP!'s inaugural night was graced by live "sex-pop-grime" (as Jones puts it) act Lactatious and Sixteen Switches, a local R&B balladeer with a re-imagining of Keith Sweat's "Twisted" in his arsenal. Though SNAP! started out on a Wednesday, its move a month later to fourth Fridays allowed Madrid a few extra weeks for promotion. As such, SNAP!'s second edition yielded a better turnout, including an army of MCs known as the WhoaDang crew that—taking advantage of the night's free-for-all attitude—flooded the stage.
"We manage to draw different groups of people every time," says Auty. "I've seen all sorts of ridiculous outfits on the dance floor. My fave was the raver angel at our Halloween cyber-punk party." Enthusiastic and creative crowds aside, Auty and Brokaw bring the most important party-starters: their vinyl collections and experience on the decks. From Brokaw's "fifth grade make-believe radio tapes" and DJ gigs in Decatur, Ill. and Denver in the '90s to Auty's playing raves in Eugene—plus a stint at Portland all-ages dance club the Zone (an experience he describes as "terrible")—these guys have fueled many a dance-party, and they're not stopping now.
Prior to the first installment of the event, Lactatious member Em Snatch (Emily Crabtree) boasted that the group would be performing a choreographed dance to Salt-n-Pepa's "Push It," complete with false pregnancies. "There was no 'Push It' that night," according to Madrid. "However we did recruit some dancers from Craigslist." Brokaw says he welcomes any and all who dare to attempt such feats, announcing, "If you and your squad wanna come buck it at SNAP!, we'll provide the backdrop to any and all dance battles." That's certainly an invite to accept. Perhaps the words of early '90s juvenile phenoms Kriss Kross can put it best: SNAP! "will make ya jump, jump!"
SNAP!, featuring DJs Freaky Outty & Colin Jones, takes place every last Friday at Branx. 10 pm. $3. 21+.