Jonathan Toubin, “forties”; DJ; Williamsburg, Brooklyn
“I decided that the party would have a dance contest in the middle, and this one little feature brought this goofy and unique dynamic that made the music something people could relate to beyond its typically small specialty demographic. I mean, all night you have this darkness and these deep soul records, but when we turn on the lights and bring the judges to the stage and dancers start going at it, the whole room has a shared experience that's very real. They become a community, and they're also able to pause from the blur of a usual dance party and think about dancing. Every time, they're all worked up by the climax. It’s like gradually pulling back a rubber band for thirty minutes then releasing it once we turn the lights back off. The hour or so after the contest is the real money part of the night; the dance-off creates the community, the tension, and the energy that you feel for the rest of the night, and you see dancers go nuts to those records in a way they never have. Of course, I never expected the dance-off itself to have that kind of power or take my party to this level when I started. I really just thought it would make things more fun.””
Batya Nadler, 28; lawyer, Upper West Side; left
Sarah Nayman, 26; marketing researcher, Upper West Side; right
Nadler: “I was envisioning more of a dance contest à la Rydell High in Grease. That being said, I’d definitely enter again, because I had such a great time. I’d attribute that great time to Jonathan Toubin; I thought he was so great, and it’s wonderful to see him back!”
Nayman: “I was envisioning more of a dance contest à la Rydell High in Grease. That being said, I’d definitely enter again, because I had such a great time. I’d attribute that great time to Jonathan Toubin; I thought he was so great, and it’s wonderful to see him back!”
Gabrielle Hawkins, 26; hostess and freelance photographer; Crown Heights, Brooklyn
“I just love dancing; it makes me feel really good. This is really good music, I just got off of work at 11pm. I had never been to Brooklyn Bowl at night, but we just decided to come. I’ve never heard of the DJ before, but I really love his set. I grew up on jazz and Motown, so it’s really great.”
Mischa Byruck, 39; small-business consultant, Chinatown; left
"A friend invited me, and my girlfriend’s been to see [Toubin] before. I think he’s awesome; he deejays soul, and everybody in the world can dance to it. He’s really taking the whole idea of soul to a new level. I’ve really never heard such wonderful, sexy soul-dance music at a dance party like this before.”
When you hear the term dance-off, you may think of cheesy battles where people attempt the Worm. But the Soul Clap & Dance-Off shindig is a different beast, with resident DJ Jonathan Toubin, fully back on the scene after a long recuperation from a freak accident, playing his typically flawless soundtrack of rock, funk and soul classics. The competitors were less concerned with form and more with simply letting loose, complicating the job of a judges’ panel that included Andrew W.K., Alexei Perry Cox of the Handsome Furs and Vivian Girls’ Cassie Ramone.
The next Soul Clap & Dance-Off is Sat 17.