Rainbow-colored laser lights and theatrical fog scintillate through the thick throng of sweaty bodies. Two cobalt-clad girls pop their intertwined bodies in perfect synchronization, while one man in a wheelchair receives a lap dance from whom I surmise is a stranger. Unconventional electronic dance music vibrates from the powerful subs on the small stage to the enthralled audience.
“We do it for the love y’all,” one DJ alongside Amerigo Gazaway exclaims.
For $10 per ticket and free parking, the Binary EDM mini festival at The Basement was very reasonable for the customers, but probably not for the DJs or employees of the music venue. While club scenes generally generate a large portion of their money from booze, and despite offering a full bar, water was mostly the only beverage consumed.
“It’s a great venue,” Nate Kieser, a professional photographer and venue promoter, says of The Basement, “very up and coming.”
Since its opening in 2011, The Basement has hosted alternative DJs and live bands several nights a week. The concert venue is located in East Atlanta, a few miles from the Bohemian enclave of Little Five Points.
The neighborhood of late-night bars and closely packed houses is gritty, but the people are very friendly. Immediately upon finding The Basement, which is literally the basement of the Graveyard Tavern, I was greeted by several members of the friendly staff. In fact, the majority of the people I met were working the mini festival at The Basement.
“It was even more dead earlier,” says Michael Straub, who operates an LED accessory vendor called Man Cave through Amazon. There were roughly 50 people in the venue by the end of the night. Straub adds, “This is the only kind of crowd I can sell this stuff to.”
The Basement may not be an overflowing, trendy Atlanta nightclub, but it is an up and coming Atlanta hippie music scene. There was mostly an alternative EDM crowd you might expect at Electric Forest. A few underage kids in matching striped tank tops and Wayfarer sunglasses trickled in, but none made it until the end of the night. The music enthusiasts meandered aimlessly around The Basement as if it were their own.
Lounge seating, pool tables, arcade machines, and a full bar are all scattered throughout the venue. Graffiti, like “you are beautiful” and “stop fucking musicians,” is written on almost all available spaces. Skeleton figurines sat among the many beer bottles behind the bar. The concrete floor is surprisingly clean, but the bathroom is nightmarish— it doesn’t even have a sink.
The center of gravity is the dance floor. Most of the people were exceptionally talented at breakdancing or twerking, while the other people were free and unpretentious with their movements. Both types of dancing are engaging to watch.
A 60-year old couple, a lesbian couple, and a bi-racial couple were among the diverse, and extremely welcoming, crowd. At least a third of the people approached me to actually initiate a conversation. At many club scenes in Atlanta people are too busy spilling their drinks and staring at their phones to dance or talk to new people.
In contrast to venues like Opera, The Basement isn’t well advertised. While the non-traditional spirit of the devotees of EDM suggests they wouldn’t want it to be too publicized, the venue would benefit from some additional attention.
“I found it on Facebook,” Straub says, “I’d never even heard of it before this event.”
The Basement deserves recognition simply because, besides the quirky vibe, it has an excellent sound stage. A variety of EDM culture was represented with bass, jam, dubstep, TRAP, glitch, hip-hop, live-electronics, and jam. The all-around atmosphere of The Basement is progressive.
“At least one more hour!” one fan yells in response to the ending show. The newly formed circle of friends appear sincerely saddened to leave.