Pandemic Celebrates a Decade of Drinking, Dancing, Stomping & Yelling in the ‘Burgh

Published On November 25, 2015 | By Shayna Mendez | Music

pandemic2Music-making, party-throwing extraordinaire, Pete Spynda, launched the Pandemic party series back in 2005.

And for 10 years running, he’s exposed Pittsburgh residents to the best in global sounds–from gypsy brass to bollywood; cumbia to dancehall; and Afrobeats, to Arabic hip hop (just to name a few).

A longtime resident of the city, Spynda was exposed to various music cultures early on, stating that his main source of influence derived from Pittsburgh’s indie music scene:

“I started going to shows and playing in bands when I was 15. A friend of mine and I would bribe his sister to drive us to shows at what was formerly Luciano’s, the Beehive, Rea Coffeehouse and other DIY spots around the city. At the time, you would go to a rock show and see the same faces you would see at the free jazz show(s). I love the sense of community [in our city]; Pittsburgers aren’t afraid of going to stuff that’s outside their comfort zones.”

According to Spynda, it used to be difficult for residents to seek out and attend alternative dance parties in the city, as their weren’t many options at their disposal. His drive to attend these events and make them available to others eventually led to the birth of Pandemic.

pandemic“At the time, Caulen Kress, Justin Hopper and I wanted to create a party that was totally different… A culture clash on the dance floor. We would play Palestinian hip hop and Klezmer music back-to-back, traditional Bulgarian music and gypsy electro [a.k.a. chalga], or Russian punk music and folk songs… Our goal was to blur the lines between contemporary dance and folk music in fun way. We wanted a clusterfuck of genres to keep the audience and ourselves guessing, “What’s next?” We wanted a border-defying, multiculti, post-national dance party. Justin always joked he wanted to create a “Pandemic” genre of music.”

It’s safe to say that, a decade later, Spynda has accomplished what he and his friends set out to create. His DJ sets–and those of his counterparts and guest artists–have been recognized as a borderless combination of cutting edge dance music from remote regions of the world. His parties have been put into place on the first Friday of each month to reenergize cultural identities among ‘Burgh residents, with each showcase featuring a blend of tradition and culture.

pandemic2“I’m humbled and thankful that the audience is still so receptive. I think, or hope, Pandemic is seen as a party people can trust will be good–whether it’s a guest DJ, or a live production. Dance parties and venues come and go; it’s crazy to me that this concept has lasted 10 years. I think what has helped keep it and me going is that it’s constantly changing and propelling itself forward [due to] the amazing, genre-bending artists [we bring in].”

Now, Spynda’s gearing up to host his 10-year anniversary party at the close of 2015. Featured artists will include a few Pandemic favorites and other potential surprises for guests to anticipate.

Joining Spynda for this anniversary affair will be Mexican cumbia DJ, Thornato, a master of incorporating spiritual Deep South sounds with traditional Greek music. Recognized for his “wind-worthy dancehall bangers,” Thornato has given the club treatment to everything from throat singing and Afro-Colombian drumming, to reggaeton and African pop.

Check out his vibesy, rhythmic beats below:

Also joining in the festivities is Pete’s longtime partner and world renowned performer, Joro-Boro.

Often referred to as the “Crypto Crunk Charlatan From The Balkans,” Joro-Boro established himself as a DJ with a 7-year residency alongside Eugene Hutz at The Bulgarian Bar (Mehanata) in NYC. He’s traveled around the world for an array of eclectic performances and showcases, including touring alongside Balkan Beat Box, and performing with artists ranging from Bassnectar to Omar Souleyman.

You can sample what your ears are in store for below:

pandemic3Pandemic’s anniversary party will be held Friday, December 4 at Brillobox from 9:30PM-2AM; and tickets will range from $6-$10. 

Come out to celebrate 10 years of diverse music culture with the Pandemic collective, while immersing yourselves in arrays of global genres right here at home.

In addition, Spynda encourages past, present and future guests to let loose and have the best night possible:

“I hope that [everyone] will come away with a sweaty night of drinking, dancing, stomping and yelling…”


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