Clubs and festivals in times of Corona / Covid-19

Club der Ewigkeiten – Hot Mass


Sitting at home, one thing has never been clearer. We may not all be dancers, but we all know the essential importance of social gatherings to keep us alive as humans. Clubs have always been central to this aspect of our lives. The range of social interactions, from small (or not so small) talk at the bar to making out in secret (or not so secret) in corners, from raging in bath rooms to dedicated shape-throwing on the dance floor. There is pretty much nothing you can’t do in the club, right? And of course the golden rule remains: what happens in the club stays in the club.

In times of Corona/Covid-19 clubs face a cruel and uncertain future. That said, we want to give a little bit of the love we felt back to the clubs, that giddy feeling when walking through their magic doors for all those years. For this little series we decided to go with “Club der Ewigkeiten”, a track by DJ Koze. A fitting title.

Today we wanna introduce to you the team behind Hot Mass, one of the most vibrant club institutions of the USA bringing Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a fix star on the tour map of the creme de la creme of the consciousness electronic music scene.

Other “Club der Ewigkeiten Features so far:
Good Room, Brooklyn 
Gewölbe, Köln
Robert Johnson, Offenbach
Dusk Camp, Los Angeles
About Blank, Berlin 
Contact Tokyo 
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Alex Price

Alex Price
Assist with bookings for DETOUR, Resident DJ

When did you start with Hot Mass?
I started volunteering at the door in 2013. Two other members from DETOUR (Juan-Augusto Lafontaine and Naeem Martinez-White) were also helping Pittsburgh Track Authority with their monthly party at Hot Mass, which opened the door for us to throw occasional shows on Fridays. At the end of 2015, PTA passed the torch over to us, and DETOUR has been running third Saturdays ever since.

Do you remember who played the first night?
The party that would eventually become Hot Mass was thrown by Honcho in June of 2012 with Mike Servito and a slew of drag performances. It was pitched as a top-secret, after-hours warehouse party to top off Pride weekend in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, but it wasn’t until December of 2012 that the Hot Mass name came into fruition and it became a regular weekly party on Saturdays.

Are you able to drop the club philosophy in three sentences?
Hot Mass is a collectively-run club that isn’t tied down to a particular sound or scene. If we’re doing our job right, Hot Mass is a place where people can feel comfortable being themselves, free from judgement of any kind as long as they’re following a few basic rules. Our hope is visiting DJs and producers are walking away feeling just as free and delighted as the crowd on the dancefloor.

I know, a tough question: but is there one specific night in your memory bringing together everything you love about Hot Mass?
I’ll never forget the night we brought Objekt and Rachel Noon in 2017. The music was impeccable and the crowd couldn’t get enough of it. There’s something that’s irresistible about packing a 180-person capacity club on a cold winter night and dancing till the sun comes up. I remember towards the end of Objekt’s set he played Errorsmith’s “My Party” and the crowd went absolutely wild. After Objekt had finished playing, he was just in awe regarding how well the night had gone and how our crowd was so receptive to such a diverse range of music.

Do you remember the first time you heard about Coronavirus?
I remember reading about a new novel coronavirus last December.

And when did you realize the implications for Hot Mass?
We met early in March for our first COVID-19 meeting. At that point, there were no confirmed cases in the Pittsburgh area possibly because of the lack of available testing, but the next day we made the decision over Slack to close the club until further notice.

What kind of support have you had from the government since you have closed?
It was already difficult in the United States to get any sort of funding for nightlife prior to this starting and this unfortunately has continued to be the case. A few of our promoters have tried to file for some funding, but haven’t been successful. Limited government support here is happening at the individual level but as a venue we are relying on our savings and donations during this time.

Is there a lot of communication going on with your fans? Any support being shown?
The response from our fans and community has been overwhelmingly supportive. We’ve really appreciated the heartfelt messages and donations that we’ve received during this time, which in turn have allowed us to keep some income flowing to the resident DJs and staff who are now out of work.

Are you also doing live streams? If so, how is the feedback?
We did our first live stream on Facebook in the end of March and then took a brief hiatus to fine tune our approach. We launched a weekly Thursday night stream on Twitch at the end of April and are really excited to have a regular event for the time being. The response for our streams has been fantastic and seeing our fans dance and respond to the stream on Twitch/Zoom has brought some much needed smiles.

Maybe it’s too soon to know, but how does clubbing come out of this? What changes?
It’s becoming increasingly clear that it’s going to be a while before clubs can start filling up to capacity and people can travel without restrictions. When it is finally safe to open, we’re going to start with a much smaller capacity that gives our lifelong fans and supporters the opportunity to get back in the club. In terms of bookings, we’ll be focused on local and regional talent and highlighting artists who we feel haven’t been getting the level of attention they deserve. It’s difficult to say what’s going to happen in the long term, but I think we’re going to see people become a little more selective when choosing their plans, which will probably mean less party hopping in a given night. I hope as a community we can continue to find new and innovative ways to support the livelihoods of the producers, DJs, staff, agents, and everyone else that make clubbing possible.

Favorite Track: Shawn Rudiman “Hausalarm”

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AARON CLARK

AARON CLARK
Assists with bookings for Humanaut (and Honcho), resident DJ for both crews

Is there a night in the history of the club that you particularly remember?
There have been so many. But the one that always immediately jumps to mind was the first time we had Ryan Smith and Ron Like Hell come through and play open to close. They throw the Wrecked party in NYC and are close friends. One of the best sets I have heard in the place. That rare dance floor singularity moment where the sound system is singing at its best, you feel like your internals are being rearranged, and the crowd energy matches it. They had a full floor almost to 9:30am when we hit the brakes, which is far beyond what we’re allowed to do. There’s a bail bonds office that opens at 7am below us, and they basically told us they’d force us out of the building if we pulled that stunt again. We haven’t gone past 7am since.

How are you spending your time right now?
I’m temporarily re-hired by my day job due to COVID bailout cash. Not sure if it will last beyond the 8 weeks, but it feels good to have a main purpose for a bit. On the side, finally ripping all of my vinyl, catching up on PC games, and getting back on my bike. Still working on alternative Honcho projects with those guys. Trying to look ahead and be open to big change.

Favorite Track: Merrin Karras “Monument” – feels like the soundtrack to the last two months, for me. The whole album is amazing, especially played as the continuous mix.

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Clarke Price

Clark
Co-Founder and Resident DJ for Honcho

Is there a night in the history of the club that you particularly remember?
One of the most memorable nights for me was the first time The Black Madonna played the club. It was definitely one of the busiest nights, rowdiest nights that I can remember. She had people on the dancefloor from open to close, a really wild set. When we turned the lights on at 7AM the place was still entirely packed. Everyone was a sweaty, happy mess.

How are you spending your time right now?
Going down a proper discogs wormhole has always been one of my favorite things to do, so I’ve been doing a lot of music discovery. I’ve also started messing around with ableton, I’ve been somewhat interested in production for a while but it wasn’t until the last 6 months or so I took the steps to start learning.
I used to be a really avid reader, but I kind of fell off in my mid twenties. I’ve been devouring audiobooks, I’ve read a lot of books in the the last two months. I’m currently reading ‘Leviathan Wakes’ which is the first book in the series that the show ‘The Expanse’ is based off of.

Favorite Track: Coil “Further Back And Faster” 
My favorite track at the moment is this track by Coil that I recently discovered. I didn’t know a ton about their music and my initial read on their music was completely off. Trippy and Funky is my favorite combination.

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Josh Bondi

Josh Bondi
Afterhours Bartender, Coat Check, Doorperson, Drag Performer, Dancer

Is there a night in the history of the club that you particularly remember?
The 24 hour Hot Mass parties are still some of my favorite moments at the club. Particularly the Honchothon in May 2018 which saw In Training homies Kiernan Laveaux and Father of Two play out the rooftop in the 19th-21st hour home stretch followed by a Matrixxman closing set. The sun came out just in time to cook us all for the 23rd hour.

How are you spending your time right now?
Right now I am spending my time trying to find motivation to continue to create from my basement bunker. I have a monthly digital variety show that helps me keep track of the time and feel connected to people.

Favorite Track: Deee-lite “Runaway”

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Jarrett Tebbets

Jarrett Tebbets
Event Producer / Resident DJ for Cold Cuts

Is there a night in the history of the club that you particularly remember?
I can’t pick just one so I’m going to go with 3 and they’re all, all night sets (7Hrs). Palms Trax, Scott Zacharias & Beautiful Swimmers. For me those were some of best musical DJ journeys that I’d had been on recently.

How are you spending your time right now?
Riding my e-scooter, lots of dog walks, rediscovering music that I bought years ago, and spending time with my wife.

Favorite Track: Steel City Connection “Steel City Disco”

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Lauren Goshinski

gFx: Lauren Goshinski (aka Boo Lean)
Curator / Resident DJ / Co-founder gFx & VIA

Is there a night in the history of the club that you particularly remember?
Our 2019 gFx Summer Breakout weekend with rRoxymore, Liquid Asset, Isabella, Beige, myself (Boo Lean), Malzof, Scout and axolotl. Isabella’s live hardware set was wild, like you were driving 100mph and a wheel was about to fly off. I love when artists come to the floor with a challenge, and the audience raises them one. And I love when I get to play on an all female / non-binary lineup where we get weird and go off. It was packed with people screaming, sweating, thrashing and smiling ear to ear. Which reminds me, shoutout to resident screamer, Jordge.

How are you spending your time right now?
I’m looking for my next job, since Covid-19 wiped out all my work. I would like to keep producing programs that showcase audio-visual artists, whatever form that takes. Trying to be helpful, like volunteering on local & international nightlife committees. Spending time with my mom. And rolling with whatever I want creatively so my spirit doesn’t get crushed … making livestreams, videos, mixes, joke fitspo accounts. A favorite thing I put out recently was a 2 hour music video made with a drone for Nowadays, which is now on their archives. Hot Mass makes a cameo appearance. It’s my rave sonnet to Pittsburgh.

Favorite Track: Ronan “Star Fissure”

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