Albers and his fellow DJs didn't need to be fancy when they started Dance Yourself Clean in a tiny Seattle bar in early 2013. That would have distracted from their fairly straightforward mission.
"We took the blogosphere indie pop world and brought it to a dance party," Albers simply puts it.
Based on firsthand experience, Albers was familiar with how rewarding (and addicting) it is to discover music on your own terms through blogs and streaming services. No longer forced to leave your musical exposure up to people like the program director at your local radio station, the power shifts to your own hands. You can find music that personally connects to you on your own terms. The only drawback seems to come when you want to experience that same feeling with other people out in a physical setting.
"Music fanatics work so hard to find their favorite music—going on the blogosphere, moving from one blog to the next, spending hours and hours looking for new music," explains Albers.
"To come across a night that's curated in that same fashion and to be surrounded by people that all feel the same way as you is really unique."
Exploring the world of music blogs while writing for the popular site theburningear.com, Albers was drawn to the exciting youthful energy of modern indie pop—an accessible subgenre of pop music that manages to avoid the unpleasant manufactured gloss that sours a lot of what ends up on Top-40 radio today. Based on play counts in the millions, he knew there were people all over the world who were listening to the exact same songs as he, but he had a hard time finding them when he went out on the weekends.
"If you wanted to go to a place to dance, the only real options were EDM or hip-hop. We would go out and settle for that, but it wasn't ideal," says Albers. "You could go to bars and you might hear MGMT or Phantogram or CHVRCHES being played, but it would be at a lounge in the background. It would be background music. We just wanted to start a dance party with our favorite music."
Alongside longtime friend Scott Patnode, Dance Yourself Clean was born when Albers started playing the music he had discovered online at Therapy Lounge in Seattle (a bar he describes as "no larger than your parent's living room"). Before long, their simple but innovative approach had attracted crowds much larger than what could fit in that little room. By 2015, Dance Yourself Clean had expanded to regular nights in Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle (with a Brooklyn version beginning in October).
Realizing that the demand for these parties had grown beyond the cities they were operating in, they decided to take Dance Yourself Clean on the road this fall—and some talented friends will be joining them. In addition to the usual DJ sets, buzzing indie pop bands POWERS, Body Language, and Collaj will perform as well. Except, in a role reversal from tradition, the bands will be opening up for the DJs on this tour.
Albers and the rest of Dance Yourself Clean understand why people wait in lines that stretch around the block to get into their parties. They realize it isn't just a show. It's a way for people to sing and dance to their favorite songs in a room with people they otherwise may not have been able to find. It's about giving people a chance to find community. It's about standing over a puddle of spilled beer in a dark sweaty room, screaming every word of your favorite song at a total stranger as they look you in the eyes and scream every word right back at you.
"At the end of the day, what works for us is the very thing that we originally started the night for: just playing our favorite music. That's what people want," Albers says. "At Dance Yourself Clean, you'll actually be able to hear Phantogram played in its entirety without a DJ over mixing it or cutting songs short. People don't want to hear someone chop and screw their favorite song. They want to hear it as close to the original as possible. It's all really simple."
Dance Yourself Clean
Saturday, Sept. 19
9 pm. Domino Room,
51 NW Greenwood Ave.
$15 adv., $20 door.