Eight months ago, Chase Dugger was staring down the other side of graduation. The recent UNT graduate and long-time Denton dance scene fixture had already achieved much, including his own residency in the much beloved Andy's Bar. Titled "Subsonic Indulgence," the weekly featured Dugger and friends' mixes of dance, EDM and electronica up until Dugger's departure to teach English in Cambodia.
Now Dugger's recent return to a growing Dallas and Denton dance scene has inspired a new plan with some old friends from the Denton Dance Collective. Living and operating in Dallas, the DJ's dedicated to advancing the reach of the collective, and varying the sounds of a populated scene.
Born and raised in Cleburne, Texas, Dugger was a "pretty shy" kid who enjoyed a quiet childhood and listening to alternative rock. "Everyone's got their embarrassing middle schools bands, but my favorite band has always been Brand New," says Dugger. "Their album got me through a lot of teenage angst."
Eventually he began to grow an interest in DJing by attending club residencies and attempting a few mixes on his own. Soon he was entertaining local parties under the name DJ Spacechase, and moved forward with teaching himself how to construct mixtapes with a digital workstation.
His first residency was part of the infamous Denton weekly Pubstep with a local collection of "DJs, artists, and dance music aficionados," known as the Denton Dance Collective. "[We're] a loose collective without any kind of official rules for entry," says Dugger. "We started as a Facebook group to promote the house shows we were having around 2011, and it sort organically grew from there as our activity increased into the bars."
Consisting now of Dugger and friends DJ Betamaxx, I Am Prometheus, Mooseka, Max Capacitor, and DJ Cymatic, the collective grew with the initial help of Pubstep's resident DJs Nick 4-D and DJ Mike. After Pubstep's final show, Dugger teamed up with DDC co-founder Jeremy Doss to shop a new weekly residency to dance clubs in the Denton area. Andy's agreed to take the duo on, and Dugger and company's resulting residency, Subsonic Indulgence, was born.
Because guests often changed on a weekly basis, Dugger and the collective worked regularly to promote shows and encourage visiting DJs. "[The residency] was definitely a full-time preparation, even though the event was only on Thursday nights," says Dugger. "To quote SBTRKT, it was a 'full time job just to keep it clean' and I think that we did a very good job of keeping Subsonic Indulgence fresh and exciting throughout the course of the event. Booking the acts in advance, designing flyers, distributing flyers, online promotions and actual DJ prep were all equally important to me."
With time, the residency became a popular fixture in the Dallas and Denton dance scenes, with interested partygoers traveling to Denton every Thursday for Dugger and friends' "good old-fashioned dive-bar dance parties." As part of Denton's united community of artists, Dugger found himself part of the network of a growing scene trying to encourage support of its local residents.
"[The scene was] the small-town environment of independent artists all trying to work in the same town. It's a fierce competition to be noticed and it creates an extremely unique environment that I would say makes Denton the crazy creative town it is," says Dugger. "It can be hard to throw higher budget shows, as it is hard to get people out to a dance party you have to pay for. Free shows were always our preferred medium, but it can be hard to bring the caliber of production that we like to bring sometimes working with such limited budget."
Dugger continued to run the residency until graduating from UNT last year. A week later, he was on a plane to Cambodia to teach English for eight months. "I left almost immediately. It was time to find something to do, and my options were to find a job or go abroad and do ESL," says Dugger. "Going abroad sounded like more fun, so I went for it!" While overseas, Dugger promoted Denton Dance Collective events through Facebook and released mixes on Soundcloud when he could.
Now living in Dallas, Dugger is still working to promote Denton Dance Collective endeavors and connecting with DJs across two populous scenes. "There is never a shortage of cool music to be heard," says Dugger. "But often times really talented DJs who put on cool nights will kind of fall through the cracks and not get the attendance that their quality deserves. There's just so much going on throughout the week!" Still, he's hopeful for his future in the scene, and its positive trends of support and recognition.
Crews will book DJs from other crews to bring the circles together on a regular basis. Everyone supports each other's DJ nights. As Dugger puts it, "Even though the music scene here is extensive, it [still] has an amazing sense of community and unity."