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The Growing Fun of Fresh 45s, Dallas' Most Unique DJ Night

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DJ nights in Dallas that are spinning vinyl are basically a dying breed. The laptop has become the preferred way for a lot of DJs to play a set, and who could blame them? Electronic music is much cheaper, won't scratch or break like vinyl, and can be carried around in a backpack instead of a series of milk crates. Still, though, analog devotees persevere and insist that their favorite tunes are played on wax.

That's where Fresh 45s organizer Joel Salazar comes in.

See also: With Help From Icons Like Spinderella, Joel Salazar is Building a New Home for Hip-Hop The Best Dallas DJ Residencies That Play Vinyl Too Fresh Productions' Thursday Night Residency is Your Hip-Hop Crash Course

"45 nights," or shows where DJs play exclusively on vinyl, have been popping up in music scenes across the country, most notably San Francisco, Philadelphia and New York City. Dallas' own iteration of 45 Night was inspired by Mobile Mondays, a white-hot DJ night in NYC that seeks to "celebrate the artistry of the DJ."

For Salazar, the genesis of his own 45s night was a lot more simple. "After starting Too Fresh, I was already doing Thursday nights at Crown and Harp," he says. "When it was in its infancy, I needed to fill in an extra night, and my birthday just happened to be coming up."

The rest, as they say, was history.

Salazar got in touch with NYC-based DJ (and founding member of Mobile Mondays) Misbehaviour. "Misbehaviour was coming to Dallas and a mutual friend of ours thought it would be cool for us to link up and do a show" -- which was quite the lucky break for Salazar. Misbehaviour was also close with Dallas' most famous DJ, the one and only Spinderella. From there, Jay Clipp, a popular Wednesday night DJ at The Prophet Bar and Jay-Z tour alum got involved, along with J.T. Donaldson, a popular house producer.

With such a diverse crop of talent on the decks, Salazar knew that he wanted to focus on hosting a really great Motown, funk and soul night. Using only 45s was Misbehaviour's suggestion, based on what Mobile Mondays was doing in New York.

"Playing on 45s is much more technical than the average DJ set," explains Salazar. "You can't move the record in the same way that you can 12-inch vinyl. Putting the needle in the groove and everything else just happens so much faster. You can't touch it very much because it's very fragile. That makes doing tricks and trying to be really back and forth with these records difficult. It's an art."

Hosted once a month at The Crown and Harp on Lower Greenville, Fresh 45s also hopes to showcase the talents of some of the country's best DJs, like Philadelphia-based Skeme Richards, who's worked with some serious heavy-hitters in hip-hop, like Jurassic 5, De La Soul and Beat Junkies. Salazar notes that the guest DJs he books are used to selling out stadiums and playing in Europe, so the $5 cover for Fresh 45s is really a damn good deal.

The evening plays more like a chill session than a night out at the club. Each of Fresh 45s' resident DJs play a half-hour set, followed by an hour from the night's guest DJ. After, though, is where things really get interesting: The "bedroom" format takes over and the DJs play each other two-for-two in a kind of "battle" format. Part of the fun of Fresh 45s is seeing the rare and nostalgic 45s that DJs who have been in the game for decades have in their collections, and you can always expect a little friendly competition between Spinderella, Donaldson, and Jay Clipp. "It gets really fun where somebody pops a record and the next DJ is like, 'Oh, I got you. I'm a show you,'" said Salazar.

If you're chomping at the bit to empty out your crates and spend time with your fellow vinyl nerds and beatheads, Fresh 45s always makes room for wax junkies to buy, sell, and swap their carefully cultivated collections. Tonight's set with guest DJ Skeme Richards, Spinderella, Jay Clipp and J.T. Donaldson goes from 10 pm until 2 am, and with a lineup like this, you'd be an idiot to miss it.

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