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.
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.”
PW's Summer Guide 2014