The term "legendary DJ" probably gets thrown around more than it should, but in the case of Danny Tenaglia the term is something of an understatement. Known for his marathon DJ sets, he's been an influential player for decades, holding down world-famous residencies in cities like New York, Miami and Berlin. Now he's coming to It'll Do Club to perform on Saturday night, and to say that it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity would be something of an understatement as well.
Tenaglia's DJ journey began in Brooklyn roller disco's in the late '70s and early '80s. Due to an overly crowded DJ scene in New York, he migrated to Miami for a gig at a small bar called Cheers in 1985. This detour to Miami just happen to coincide with the beginning of the Winter Music Conference, and his seminal after hours parties during the festival quickly raised his profile amongst the DJ elites. Tenaglia's appearances at Winter Music Conference eventually became a decades-long tradition.
After a five-year stint in Miami, Tenaglia migrated back to New York, but unfortunately could not secure a residency. While waiting for the next resident opportunity Tenaglia turned his attention towards the studio.
As a result, during the '90s he became one of the most sought-after remixers putting his years of dance floor experience to the likes of Giorgio Moroder, Depeche Mode, Madonna, Green Velvet, The Orb, New Order, Moby, Yoko Ono and many more. Although Tenaglia was primarily a remixer he also dipped his toes into the producer chair working with Pet Shop Boys and Ten City. Working out of Francois Kevorkian's infamous Axis Studios, Tenaglia helped to define an entire era of popular remix culture.
By the mid-90's, Tenaglia made it back to the DJ booth with residencies at the Roxy, Twilo, The Tunnel and eventually finding a home at Vinyl. While there, he was able to nurture a style that harkened back to the anything-goes attitude of the Paradise Garage years, a sentiment that was reinforced by Vinyl's no-alcohol policy; Vinyl as a venue was way more about the music than the bar sales.
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As a DJ and producer, Tenaglia has had a front-row seat for a lion's share of modern dance music history from Larry Levan's Paradise Garage to the modern day techno mecca of Berlin's Berghain. Tenaglia uses that insight to take his dance floors on a unique journey that only he could curate. He is well known for his marathon DJ sets that have been known to stretch up to 18 hours. An appearance by Tenaglia in a Dallas club is just a few notches below a downtown Bigfoot sighting.
As far as Tenaglia's impact on local DJ's, you only have to look to It'll Do's resident and local veteran DJ Redeye. "To me Danny Tenaglia means someone who has always looked to [for] where music is going, without losing his grip on where it's been," Redeye says. "He doesn't believe in ruts, and has never feared moving forward musically. But he also doesn't dump his history to the wayside; he brings it all into the future with him. He is education and entertainment." The education part of that quote is key: In an age where the audience has increasing influence over what gets played in the DJ booth, Tenaglia is a precious remnant of older days when the audience relied on the deep musical knowledge of the DJ.
On the flip side, Dallas talent has inadvertently had some impact on Tenaglia himself as he disclosed the impact of Plano-based techno wizard Convextion in an interview with ibiza-voice.com. "The concept of 'Minimal House' became more relevant to me when I started to seriously embrace it around 1996, by artists like Herbert, Maurizio and the entire Chain Reaction and M series," Tenaglia related. "The main one that changed my life the most was 'Convextion' by Convextion on Matrix Records."
This all comes full circle this weekend at It'll Do Club when Tenaglia performs. This will almost certainly be the only time you get to see him in Dallas. After decades of regular residencies, Tenaglia has announced his semi-retirement. While not exactly giving up DJing, he has slowed down his performance schedule considerably.
Although Tenaglia's sets and production have leaned heavily towards techno in recent years, he has a much wider range than normal DJs. It would be best to go into the show with an open mind and witness how a true master of his craft works a dance floor. His set will be a brief (for him) three to four hours this weekend. Expect the unexpected and to also shake your shoes until they fall off of your feat.
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