Originally penned by Wax Poetics scribe Mark Skillz, ‘White Lines and The Fever: The Death of DJ Junebug’ takes a comprehensive look at the pioneering club as well as the legendary resident Disco Fever DJ, DJ Junebug.
White Lines/ Disco Fever trailer
Sal Abbatiello was the 24 year old owner and promoter of the Disco Fever in 1977, after being handed the business by his father, it the ‘first white disco to open in the Bronx. He had created THE 1st Hip-Hop club by joining the dots of glitterball disco [in the Saturday Night Fever sense of the term], and the visionary talent of people like Sweet G and DJ Hollywood who had already honed their Rapping and record playing skills in the park jams and local block parties of the time. Junebug and pioneers such as Grandmaster Flash, Lovebug Starski, DJ Hollywood & Eddie Cheeba were “Uptown royalty when Cam’Ron and Jim Jones were in Pampers” during the heady days of the late 70s.
It was a club that directly brought the raw excitement of those outdoor jams, indoors. Up until this point, the outdoor jams were becoming increasingly dangerous, as stick-up kids and whippersnappers from around the way, still involved in the street gangs, were snatchin chains and robbin cats for they garms and jewels etc. It was described at the time as the ‘Home of the Rappers, and a home away from home to an entire community’. The film uncovers a world that most folk may not know about with regards to todays terms of Hip-Hop, a spot that pre-dated Rap as a physical commodity, Rappers Delight was still a couple of years away remember. The people escaped the perils of the projects and enjoyed the safety and spirit of the environment, whilst being entertained by some of the most important names in our culture. Run DMC, Kurtis Blow, and the Beastie Boys all performed for the first time in front of hyped up crowds at the Fever. Even when 5-0 wanted to enter the premises for a raid, they were more than welcome, cos the DJ booth had a direct connect from the front door, where the DJ would signal CODE BLUE – CODE BLUE, WE GOTTA CODE BLUE, this rang out across the dancefloor warning the clientele that they needed to clear the tables of the white powdered paraphernalia, general druggy detritus and any illegal activity that theyd been embroiled in up until that moment, big shouts to the C&C crew. The club was amongst many that sprung up across the city during that Studio 54 period, but none of the people from around the way that wanted to go to 54 would ever get in, so therefore, a spot outside of Manhattan seemed just as invigorating, becoming more musically inventive during the decade its doors were open to the public. It’s interesting to note that the Disco Fever was THE first disco to charge for people to get in with sneakers on, it was a dollar to get in if you wore shoes, but it was 5 dollars if you wore sneaks, true story
Lovebug Starski – Live at the Fever [spot the Pauls Boutique samples]
Sheila E – Love Bizarre clip from Krush Groove [shot at the Fever]
The film has premiered this week at SXSW, is receiving top reviews and looks to be one of the more interesting docs regarding the embryonic days of Hip-Hop since the VH1 feature length NY77. It’s already picked up a Special Jury prize…
The original treatment was based on Marks’ 2005 piece ‘When the Fever was the Mecca’ for Wax Poetics magazine, and features a whole heap of the OG DJs Rappers and characters from the period [some known affectionately as the Fever Believers], when Hip-Hop was still finding its feet in the parks and community centres of New York City.
The original article by Mark is available here
The Mass Appeal Dante Ross interview with Sal, is available here
A free compilation featuring music and dialogue from the flick as well as original aural evidence from the Fevers’ live shows is available here
A short clip of audio from ‘NY77 – The Coolest Year in Hell’ explaining some of the background to the history of the Fever is available here
Not the Disco Fever trailer but entertaining nonetheless
Biggest shouts to Mark Skillz for the heads up…