Monday, August 31, 2009

Mini-Interview with NJ Legend Hippie Torales!

Hippie is back in the tri-state area this weekend for the Zanzibar Reunion party, and we are also luck enough to have him throw down some vintage tunes at Puddin' on Thursday as well. While he is here visiting I got him to answer some short questions for Secret Rendezvous.

Q. How did you get your start DJ'ing?

A. I started DJ very early on I use to work the turntables, mikes and projectors for our school auditorium. At the age of 13 I went to my first club (El Central in Jersey City NJ) and heard continues music for the first time. I was amazed and lucky enough to be brought up to the DJ booth to meet the DJ Angel (R.I.P). He explained the basics of 2 turntables the mixer and I was hooked ever since. I started DJing at home at 14 then started doing my first mobile gigs by 15.

Q. Tell us about the roots of the NJ Disco scene, the Traveling Disco Sound you were a part of.

A. When I first started Djing I was doing mostly parties for my friends then I hooked up with partner Nelson (Butchie) Nieves and we started Traveling Disco Sound in 197%$#. We use to do the roller skating ring in Newark called The Branch Brook Roller Rink (still around today). Then we use to do parties at different venues. At some point in early 70's we hooked up with Mark IV DIsco and started doing parties along with them and another mobile group called G.O.L.D (Gentlemen of Leisure Disco). We use to have parties in the Ebony Manor. We use to get 1000's of people to those events. And that was my introduction to a black audience. At that point in Newark there were a couple of things going on. Al Murphy was having his parties and started Le Jocks with Larry Patterson as his Dj and Shaniques was an established club with a steady audience. There was also the Showcase on Brandford Place which catered to a gay crowd and Murphy's bar which is still open today. At around the mid 70's Miles Burger brought an Old Holiday In hotel and turned it into the Lincoln Motel. At around the same time Kelly opened Sensations on Brandford Place and Butchie and I opened Docks on Market St.

Q. You were the first DJ in the booth at the Zanzibar. What was the date of the opening night of the Zanzibar, and what was that first party like?

A. Around 1978 I started workin at Abe's Disco located in the downstairs floor of the Lincoln Motel. House jock was Gerald T. And a DJ named Mumbles had a spot and I joined them. In January of 79 Miles started talkin about turning the upstairs ballroom into a night club. He contacted Richard Long to do the sound again (Richard had done the sound for Abe's) and Richard told him let me take you to a club in NY I did the sound for and took Miles to Paradise Garage. Miles came back wanting the same thing for New Jersey and proceeded to create Zanzibar. On August 29th 1979 Zanzibar opened to the public. We had almost 3000 people in attendance. We had a giant python in display in a showcase, we a tiger in a cage right next to the entrance where you pay. We had the Le Clique Dancers, a magician and a roller skating chimp named Zippy which was my competition that night. We were doing a live broadcast on WNJR radio at the same time. In the booth hangin out that night with me were Kool & The Gang, Tasha Thomas, Sugar Hill Gang and several other celebrities. At one point we had show put on by the chimp. He was roller skating forwards and backwards. It was probably one of the highlights of my career.

Q. What years were the Zanzibar open from, and can you tell me about the evolution of the club over the years?

A. I cannot give you all the history cause I'm not sure when they finally closed there doors. But they opened in 1979 and closed somewhere near the early 90's. Among the DJ's that played were Gerald T (The Lincoln Motel longest resident DJ) Larry Levan, Larry Patterson, Tee Scott, Francois K, David Morales, Naeem Johnson, Tony Humphries, DJ Punch and Shank and Kevin O. I believe Disciple did some parties there also. There were also some parties where Louie Vega also played.

Q. You've been doing your thing over the years and have seen DJs come and go. Can you tell me the differences you see in today's DJs vs the DJs of the 70s? ie: format, selection, the business aspects etc? Do you have any advice for them?

A. DJing use to be a thing we did for fun and passion. Now it's become a business and it's lost some of it passion. We use to consider everything dance music in a club and we use to love finding that b-side or import that would take our audience to another level. Now every club has become so segregated that most only play one style of music in any given night. The only advice I can give new jocks is to "Keep Your Ears And Your Mind Open" to new music. No matter what people label it. Find that song that you feel passionate about and make it your own by working it to your own taste by either working the crossover or remixing it live with 2 copies.

Q. So what do you have in store for the crowd at the Zanzibar re-union, and what do you have in store for your sneak preview at my birthday party? :)

A. Well for the Zanzibar Reunion were are going to try and recreate the excitement of the opening night. For your party I think I will try and turn you guys on to some good music from the 70's.

Thanks Hippie, see you at Puddin' on Thursday, and have fun laying it down at the Zanzibar reunion on Sunday!

No comments: