Junior the Disco Punk has plans for New Year's Eve. He'll start out Downtown at Red Circle, where he'll spin low-key dance tracks from 6 to 9:30 or so. Then he'll make his way over to Hillcrest's The Brass Rail and ring in the New Year with hard-hitting '80s and electro, after which he'll probably be convinced to play one of his buddy's after-parties. Junior's head won't hit a pillow for long, though, because after the after-party, on New Year's Day, he'll be doing a tag-team set with DJ $ergio at the big Fortune's New Year's 2009 daytime party at the Del Mar Marriott from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sounds pretty insane, doesn't it? Not to Junior. The fulltime DJ's used to having a packed schedule. In December, for example, he was booked for 28 of the 31 nights. It's fair to say that Junior the Disco Punk is as prolific a DJ as sleepy San Diego has ever seen. It's no wonder he proudly boasts “I love San Diego” as his MySpace headline; the guy sees a crazy and exciting side of the city most never will.
“I'm only as good as my dance floor, you know,” Junior says, perched behind his laptop at Normal Heights' Air Conditioned, where he has a residency every Friday night. He's checking one of his multiple MySpace accounts and posting updates for nearly 10,000 friends and followers about his Manic Monday nights at The Brass Rail (where people line up for '80s music and 80-cent beer), his Dive Bar Disco Thursday Nights at Waterfront Bar and his Sunday Day Time Remedy brunch at Lei Lounge.
Clad in a neon hoodie provided by Iron Fist, his official clothing sponsor, and flashing bling in the shape of cupcake earrings purchased from what he jokingly calls “The Man Store” (aka Claire's at Fashion Valley Mall), Junior says his secret to DJ success is simple: He plays everything and anything as long as the dance floor digs it.
“Lately,” Junior says, “in the middle of my set, I've been just throwing in ‘Feliz Navidad' because it's a fun song and it's Christmassy.”
Junior's been in the DJ biz for more than a decade, so the type of music people want to dance to has shifted throughout the years, but this year, he's especially happy to say yes to gig offers because tastes have finally come back around to where he feels most at home.
“I love the '80s,” he says. “I love electro, and I love rare grooves and old disco and funk.”
How about the newer stuff—like, the best tracks of 2008?
“Oh, man,” Junior says, “there's too many. That's what I'm trying to decide right now.” He opens his iTunes and pulls up a playlist of about 50 songs titled “The essential 2008.”
“Have you heard that track by Empire of the Sun called ‘Walking on a Dream'?” he asks. “It's just so beautiful.”
But before the high-energy, somewhat sporadic and decidedly spontaneous DJ settles on the track as his favorite of the year, he changes his mind and starts listing off artists he noticed in 2008, “There's Calvin Harris, MGMT….”
Then his phone rings, and before Junior can finish, he's moved onto thinking about his next gig.—Kinsee Morlan
Last-minute NYE ideas
If you're slowly breaking out of your holiday-food coma, chances are you haven't yet thought about making plans for New Year's Eve. But fear not—we're here to provide last-second ideas.If money's tight, The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma is hosting a no-cover party that includes music by DJ Chris LaRose, a midnight Champagne toast and “party favors.” Meanwhile, East Village's Basic cuts out the formality with a no-VIP guest list and music from DJ Brent Bartell ($10).
Just across the street from Basic, at The Corner, there's a Roaring '20s theme, DJs, a Champagne toast and access to plenty of board games if you want to ring in the New Year with a rousing game of Apples & Apples or Parcheesi.
The brand-new El Dorado Cocktail Lounge, also in East Village, is doing the Champagne-toast thing, plus music by DJ Trevor Young ($15). Meanwhile, DJs Mario Orduno, Sir Charles and Brandon Welchez head up “DANCING NIGHT” ($5) at the Whistle Stop in South Park, and Ruby Room holds the grand re-opening of May*Star's Fashion Whore event with a special “Prom Night” theme, an open bar from 9 to 11 p.m., a fashion show, photo booths and music from DJ Groundfloor. The Office has The Upstarts, Bedford Grove and DJ Iron Mike for $10.
(If you're looking for more live-music picks, see “If I Were U”.) And for ladies who love ladies, FlawLes.com and 607 Events have teamed up to host a party with DJs, a makeshift casino, a free Champagne toast at midnight and more at The Abbey in Bankers Hill ($35). —Todd Kroviak & Friends
After a shooting outside a Young Buck show at 'Canes Bar & Grill on Dec. 6, talent buyer and marketing director Pamela Johnsten says the Mission Beach venue is “going to limit the amount of shows, and we are going to be careful of which types of hip-hop shows we are going to book.” When asked what those “types” would be, Johnsten explained, “We are all about positive hip-hop, and we would like to stay away from ghetto rap.” The next booked hip-hop show is The Concrete Project on Feb. 21.
In addition to its roving art shows (the next one, Conspire, is on Jan. 17 at a place called Community, at Fourth and Olive in Bankers Hill), Sanctuary 143 has launched a weekly podcast called Minstrel Fridays, in which local musicians, DJs, writers and artists create a playlist that can be downloaded for free at www.sanctuary143.com.
Anya Marina and MC Flow have both premiered new music videos. Marina's video is for “Move You,” the first single off her new album, Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II, while MC Flow's is for the anti-Prop. 8 tune “Created Equal.”
Blindspot Records is celebrating the release of Staring at the Sun VII, which includes tracks from 20 local artists, with a show on Saturday, Jan. 3, at Lestat's. The Anna Troy Band, Folding Mr. Lincoln and others are set to perform.
Hard financial times are affecting the WorldBeat Cultural Center in Balboa Park. The 25-year-old institution needs donations so it can keep putting on all-ages and family-oriented events and concerts. Contact www.worldbeatcenter.org or call 619-230-1190. —Seth Combs
The Enrique Experience
Just off the Filipino-American highway in National City lies Imelda's Bar (2325 Highland Ave.). No, it's not named for infamous one-time Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos; rather, its namesake is owner Imelda De Paz, who shares the former's passion for footwear.
Sharing its west wall with a Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits and its east one with a tire-and-alignment emporium, a glittery crimson high-heel-shaped cutout crowns the bar's barn-like white-trimmed red façade. The shoe fetish motif resumes inside with a pair of black patent-leather heels resting atop a TV, wedge espadrilles next to the video poker machine and a gigantic stiletto-shaped leopard-print chair in the bar's corner shrine alongside a San Diego Chicken bobblehead, a Mardi Gras bead-adorned golden Buddha and a limited-edition plaque honoring 1988's NASCAR rookie-of-the-year runner-up Hut Stricklin.
In keeping with the odd décor, an electric guitar autographed by the members of Godsmack adorns the bar area, along with a bumper sticker that reads: Marriage = Man + Woman. Rope lightly hung throughout reflected perfectly off the glossy black drop-in ceiling panels as Roxette's “It Must Have Been Love” played from the juke in this no-passport-required exotic escape. Alongside its extensive beer selection, the joint also serves Ku Soju sweet-potato liquor in a variety of drinks named after the proprietor. To soak it all up, pork cracklins and cuttlefish squid are on the menu as well—yum!
As I was sipping on my Imelda Bull (Ku Soju and Red Bull) a seasoned barfly made a beeline toward me, humped my knee and gave me a booty dance straight out of Manila MTV. She was in her 50s, wore daisy dukes, was missing both her canines and had a loud gremlin-like cackle. I tried to impress her by singing a fragment of the traditional love anthem “Nandito Ako,” but I muffled my words and something like “I want to enter your mud hut with my crispy lumpia” came out. Her face lit up, and moments later a gentleman wearing python boots and a suit to match walked in. Coincidence?
New Year's resolution: Learn Tagalog. —Enrique Limon