The DJ Hatesyou Interview
If you’re a twenty something who goes out on a regular basis in the PGH, then chances are you’ve been to an 80s night or two. Whether you remember the old Upstage days, which relocated to what used to be known as Prive Ultra Lounge, or you’ve been hooked on NEON at Belvedere’s since its inception, the 80s are alive and kickin’ in this town. This weekly holds an all night rager once a year, on the first Thursday of January, titled “NEON til NOON” which runs from 9PM until the wee hours of the night, or sometimes the next day. We wanted to learn a bit more about this tradition and what inspired resident NEON deejay, DJ Hatesyou, to start a night of his own, which is celebrating its 5th year this Thursday. Here’s what went down.
Kymbo Slice: How did NEON/NEON til NOON originate?
DJ Hatesyou: NEON did not switch venues, it was a retro party that began the week after the Upstage closed, but the Upstage party had actually moved to the now defunct “Prive:Ultra Lounge.” The night is called NEON because I cheat too much to honestly call it 80s night and people are too lazy to call it 1978-1993 night. At the request and with the help of Joy Tojours, I created the night and have been its only resident. Aside from five weeks I’ve missed due to being in Europe, this is my 255th time DJing the night.
Both Joy and I were in a state of disbelief over the success of the night and hadn’t expected it to last a full year, so we wanted to do something equally absurd to commemorate the first anniversary. The first year I challenged the audience to keep dancing until the bar was legally allowed to start serving booze again at 7AM, but when it was down to six die hard dancers at 6AM I decided to call it a wrap. Everyone had fun, so it became a tradition.
KS: Do you have any favorite moments from NEON in general or any particular NEON Til NOON moments that stick out?
DJHY: The only particular NEON til NOON memory I can come up with is from the first year, one dancer went to his car around 2:30 intending to take a 15 minute power nap so he could make the full night, but he passed out for three hours, returning to the party bright eyed as everyone else was on the verge of collapsing. There are two other non-anniversary weeks that stand out.
The day Michael Jackson died I received twenty or so phone calls informing me and bracing me to expect a lot of requests. I played a very cathartic power hour tribute set to one of the most positively charged crowds I’d ever seen.
The other would be the week that a transformer had exploded on Butler Street and none of the businesses had any power for two blocks. Well, the show must go on, so we rented a generator, lit the bar by candlelight and handed out glow-bracelets to people at the door as they showed their IDs. I’ve always fought against light pollution in bars, but this was very dark, and staring out at the day-glo flashes had me laughing all night.
KS: When you aren’t playing 80s music, what do you prefer to play?
DJHY: Ideally I prefer to play Brazilian funk, but I only get a chance to do that about once a year at Pandemic. I also, occasionally do a night called “The Prequel” where I play all jams that came out before the 80s. On Saturday I will be doing a very exciting dark-wave set at Cattivo as part of Illusions.
KS: Do you ever get tired of 80s music? What do you do to keep your sets fresh?
DJHY: Honestly, I’ve always been tired of 80s music, particularly the songs that get requested week after week, they seem to follow me, stalking me in grocery stores and car commercials. To keep it interesting I just keep digging, finding “new” old songs, forgotten dance classics and things that never had a chance. I’ve also integrated new wave music from all over Europe that I’ve accumulated along my travels. I try and make sure that every week I play a few songs I’ve never played before and a bunch that I haven’t played for a while, also forcing some songs to take a break. Despite hearing “Tainted Love” all the time, I assure you my crates are constantly rotating, new selections become hits and old favorites slip to the background. Of course at NEON til NOON I try to revisit everywhere the night has been up until that point, and give indications of where it’s heading in the next year.
If you’ve yet to experience a NEON night or you’re in the mood to keep the party going all night long, we suggest hitting up Belvedere’s for another memorable NEON til NOON. Until next year, PGH!