Farewell to Fluid, the Philly Nightclub Where Questlove, Dieselboy and Countless DJs Held Court

After 16 years, South Street's favorite dance joint is closing in April. PW chats with the players who fueled its greatness—even as a sea change in DJ culture made the end inevitable.

By Tara Murtha
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 25 | Posted Mar. 5, 2013

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Internationally, Fluid is famous among the drum and bass set because of the Thursday night Platinum party, which ran from 1998 to 2004.

Damian Higgins, aka DJ Dieselboy, worked at 611 Records when Schiro asked him if he was interested in a weekly residency. “He essentially gave me Thursday nights and free reign,” Higgins tells PW over the phone from his apartment in Brooklyn. Higgins got the night going with DJ Kaos: “The initial concept was that we were going to do something that hadn’t been done in the city. Not only a D and B weekly, but a 21-and-up D and B weekly. We were trying to target a more sophisticated, post-rave crowd.”

Dieselboy hooked up with Kevin Gimble of Circle Talent Agency (then Circle Management, which grew out of Special K), and the rest is history.

“Bad Company, DJ Fresh, everyone who is anyone in the D and B world would go through Fluid and play Platinum,” says Gimble, who now runs Circle from offices in Beverly Hills. “At one point, [me and] MC Rage were on an airplane flying somewhere together, and … he [says], ‘Kev, bro, you have got Fabric, Blue Note and Platinum. That’s drum and bass in the world.’ To have him put it in that sort of perspective, that’s really something special. And here we are in this 200-capacity underground club in Philly, and we have one of the leaders in the drum and bass movement comparing us to two of the stalwarts. That was pretty special. I’ll never forget that.”

Higgins attributes his success in part to Schiro’s support.

“[What stands] apart from almost any club I played at was the owner, Tony, was always invested,” says Higgins. “Every club owner, it’s a bottom line; they need business to come to the door and turn a profit, [but] there are a lot of club powers who don’t give a fuck about anything but making money, even if it’s at the expense of the night they book.”

“That’s why I would hire these people,” says Schiro. “To let them do what they do.”

Like everyone else,
Higgins is sorry, but not surprised, to hear Fluid is closing. Neither is Medina, he admits: “There was a time where DJs breaking records was something that people looked for, when you think of all the music programming on the radio pre-Clear Channel and Radio One, it wasn’t such a homogenized entity. A fan listening to the radio wasn’t being fed the same records 10 times a day. When that model came into the business, it affected clubs across the board.”

DJ culture will thrive in Philly, of course; meanwhile, the old heads will have their chance to send Fluid off in style, as almost every old residency is dusting off and planning a finale party. Medina's bringing Afrorikan Vybe back on March 15. A one-last-time Fast, Cheap and Out of Control is set for March 17. A Platinum night is in the works. And Questlove’s returning for Tastytreats’ final Fluid party on April 6, as will none other than DJ Jazzy Jeff. 

“It’s outstanding that [Fluid] lasted this long,” says Wilson. “It is sad because there aren’t a lot of clubs like that left anymore.”

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Comments 1 - 25 of 25
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1. sarasherr said... on Mar 6, 2013 at 01:48AM

“Awesome piece! Brought a tear to my eye. Hate to be That Guy, but Jimmy Carter from The Dumpsta Players is named Jimmi Shrode, or as he was known at the time, The Divine Ms. Jimmi. Perhaps we need a new queen named Jimmy Carter giving us 70s peanut realness.”

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2. Jimmi Shrode said... on Mar 6, 2013 at 03:08AM

“I have never played Jimmy Carter. I always thought I was too beautiful for that! Unless, Jimmy Carter is doing drag somewhere. *sigh*

The Divine Ms. Jimmi”

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3. @PhillyWeekly said... on Mar 6, 2013 at 09:40AM

“Apologies, Jimmi — corrected.”

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4. FLYGIRRL said... on Mar 6, 2013 at 01:23PM

“Join us for the last few Tastytreats/Saturdays at Fluid before it's gone for good!!







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5. DJ Robert Drake said... on Mar 6, 2013 at 01:56PM

“Great piece - but let's not forget the female DJs that have helped keep the party alive at Fluid for so long - most specifically, my partner in crime, DJ MARILYN THOMAS - who has been with Sex Dwarf from the start ... Sure, the dudes ran the place - but don't be fooled ... the ladies drove the dance floor just as well :)”

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6. Napoleon Luther Meanas said... on Mar 6, 2013 at 02:53PM

“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! First of all, this was definitely a good piece of writing, paying homage to both one of the very best nightclubs to alight upon the Philadelphia scene in years, as well as one of the brightest club owners around. I am more upset than normal to hear about its closing because I am unable to get there to feel that floor move under my feet to say goodbye properly. I can only hope that Tony Schiro opens a club in Las Vegas (hint hint hint)!!”

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7. ImriJonas said... on Mar 6, 2013 at 03:43PM

“Thank you, Tony and crew, for keeping the magic going for so many years.”

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8. Damian 'Dieselboy" Higgins said... on Mar 6, 2013 at 05:55PM

“MARCH 27th we have the return of the legendary PLATINUM. drum and bass madness with our kick ass team of residents dropping basshammers all night long. can't wait for this one.”

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9. Billy Slavin said... on Mar 7, 2013 at 12:38AM

“Beautifully done Tara. I made the move from serving coffee (The Bean cafe) to beer (Fluid/Latest Dish) in 1999, my first bar job. I'll never forget when Fast Cheap made the move to Fluid, I haven't served that much Jeager since. So many great memories.”

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10. Feebo said... on Mar 7, 2013 at 10:12AM

“I will forever have the fondest and funnest memories of Sex Dwarf .. I'll be on my death bed smiling of those awesome dancing drunk happy nights.. Drake n Thomas, THANK YOU!! ..for an outrageous, passionate, unique, strange and memorable run... (now about a monthly gig at the Troc or some such joint)

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11. cheryl said... on Mar 7, 2013 at 12:11PM

“so many memories, so much love. thank you for all of it.”

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12. Lee Mayjahs? said... on Mar 7, 2013 at 01:56PM

“Great article, very sad to see Fluid go. I have so many memories there from different chapters of my own life. I remember working at Filo's down the street in the late 90's and I would sneak out to go hang in the alley outside fluid. Much props to Tony, JC, Oronde, Rasheed, Stacey, Mike Nyce, Cosmo, King, Josh, ?uest, Wink, Pete Moss, Rob Paine, Yameen & everyone who made fluid what it was. Maximum Love & respect.”

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13. Stefanie said... on Mar 7, 2013 at 02:55PM

“Billy, you probably served our Zipperhead/ CRASH BANG BOOM gang most of the Jeager at Fast Cheap! Thanks to ALL of the wonderful DJ's and staff at Fluid! Orande..thanks for all your patience;)”

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14. DJ Avid said... on Mar 7, 2013 at 05:40PM

“"Josh Wink, one of the most famous DJs to come out of Philly, laughs when he thinks about the changes in technology since he started out almost 30 years ago."

Don't laugh, Josh.”

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15. Candy Mayhem (Candace Ryan) said... on Mar 8, 2013 at 10:55AM

“"So many amazing Sunday nights with Mr.Delicious and the ladies dancing on the box. Fluid made my 20's, fun, filthy and glittery."”

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16. Q said... on Mar 8, 2013 at 02:00PM

“First it was The Bank, Knave of Hearts, Palmers (back when you had to be an actual member to buy a drink) Filo's, SOMA & St Jacks... the party is officially over now that out beloved Fluid is closing it's doors. Fell in love with Tastytreats & D&B at this place, loved the night Goldie popped in while opening for JA @ the TLA.”

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17. Rob Windfelder said... on Mar 8, 2013 at 05:36PM

“Sunday nights with Psydde!!! Almost never missed it.”

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18. DYLAN said... on Mar 8, 2013 at 07:45PM

“Fluid one was of the first venues i ever played in America after being born and raised in London England, I later moved to Philly and stayed and i think Fluid had alot to do with that! Gonna miss everything about it!!

TONIGHT Friday March 8th we have our final party!! darkside Drum & Bass "Therapy Sessions" Come out tonight and have a blast with us! <3”

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19. Elena Brennan said... on Mar 9, 2013 at 08:47AM

“So sad, it's the end of an era! I have so many fond memories & danced many a nights away on the floor at FLUID! Thanks Tony & to all the fabulous DJs I met at Fluid - Josh Wink, Carl Cox, Doc Martin, Maggy Thump (DJ Lorne), Pete Moss etc. The list is sooo long!!”

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20. AbnerDoon said... on Mar 9, 2013 at 08:20PM

“It's so sad..SO SAD to see the passing of this.. Fluid's closing does indeed mark the end of a particular era..but ahh....truth be told its another generations time to be handed the reigns of tearing up the streets and blasting their beats.

Best of all, that gem of all gems that was utter perfection as I saw it was Filos..an absolute diamond in the rough, small tho it was got recognition and respect from international visitors...I mean true club gurus from Europa (UK in particular)...I almost tore my guts out at the door when I after an admitted brief absence returned to see a restaurant (xoxo?) plying its trade at the site...Knocked me on my ass...lol..that itself was a number of years ago, ancient memory for some but vivid memory to me. I loved that place....LOOOVED IT, kept me sane, single-handedly made me love Philly.. Unpretentious, no fakers, no pretenders just a true mix of folk that loved close quarters and perfect beats. Harmony, bliss and weed smoke paradise..”

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21. Justin Paul said... on Mar 12, 2013 at 12:59AM

“So many amazing memories of Fluid. Started going to Ovum nights back in 1996. Listened to countless world class, and local DJs perform there over the years. Too many to type. Also had the pleasure of DJing and hosting Playloop parties there several years later. One of the best clubs in America for dance music. Sorry to see it end.”

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22. Anonymous said... on Mar 13, 2013 at 04:01PM

“So many good nights with Udoh and Deep, The infamous Lee Jones. Wink, Tasty Treats, Reflective Parties, Goldie, Platinum, Doc sooooo many QUALITY nights. I am glad i should be home to see it off proper.”

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23. allsortsofnostalgicjimmy said... on Mar 14, 2013 at 12:22PM

“I def partied at space aka motion 90 percent of the time when I was in philly. God its been so long. Shout out to imri...good to see u on here man! But anyway...one of the first times I was ever there I heard a set by dieselboy(first track had a busta rhymes beat in it, gimme some mo I think) and was hooked. Didn't know how spoiled I was. So I asked around and heard about fluid....platinum nights were some of my most memorable from any club anywhere, real talk. I'm f'n 30 now and have been hoping/praying for a night like this so thanks to all involved and mad respect.”

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24. teemoo215 said... on Mar 29, 2013 at 07:31PM

“Still have my John Digweed ticket from 2002 I believe it was. Show was cancelled last minute, and he never re-booked. Would have been nice to catch him at Fluid but I still got the ticket and never got a refund always hoping for redemption but it never came.”

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25. Sean Leonard said... on Mar 2, 2014 at 01:21PM

“Im going to miss this place. I meet my wife here. Sad to see it go.”


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