Kyle “Kid Color” Woods is seriously into disco. He’s barely sat down for our interview about the one-year anniversary of his Dollar Disco party on Sunday 3, and he’s already telling me about The Disco Files 1973–1978, Vince Aletti’s definitive chronicle of the genre’s rise in the Big Apple. “It’s so exciting to see the growth of it, and it’s basically as it’s happening. It’s not like somebody looking back on it.” Woods, 22, is doing his homework to understand the nuances of that scene and how he can apply the best parts of it to what he does as a DJ today.
The bespectacled young gun can be heard around town on an almost nightly basis, but his main outlet is Dollar Disco, a weekly Sunday soiree at Smart Bar. Alongside fellow residents Michael Serafini, owner of Gramaphone Records, and Garrett “Adulture” Shrigley—as well as regular guests—Woods effectively spans three generations of dance music with his party, stretching from disco’s heyday to current riffs on the genre.
“I think going in to claim that you’re throwing a disco night, you need some history and knowledge of where it all came from,” Woods says. Where he’s still learning, Serafini, whose career as a Chicago DJ stretches more than 15 years, can fill in the gaps. But don’t expect all Saturday Night Fever all the time. “I for one see disco as a certain kind of feeling that matches up with certain elements that are taken from the older stuff.” For the Dollar Disco crew, house music, indie dance and other styles all get equal weight, so long as the right spirit is there.
A SoCal native, Woods began his DJ career when he moved to the city to study music marketing at Columbia College in 2007. He quickly fell in with local electro trio Dark Wave Disco as an intern, and found himself living a dual life throwing underage dance parties in his dorm and sneaking into clubs. “I got to see nightlife as it was really happening,” he says, grinning. “I didn’t have to be an outside spectator because I was too young. Living those two lives, I got to meet a lot of people.”
Those early days were not without their growing pains. He formed an electro trio with fellow aspiring young DJs Skyler Mendoza and Jojo Yang, which took them to Lollapalooza in 2009. But as Woods puts it, “It was a great experience, but I didn’t like what I was in the whole thing. I was playing music for the wrong reasons.”
Going back to the drawing board that fall, Woods devoted himself to learning dance music’s history, kick-starting his love affair with disco. “I took all that excitement and energy I was feeling towards the scene and devoted it to an older sound,” he says. “The DJs that wow me are the ones that are playing stuff that I wouldn’t expect to hear. I’m very fortunate to play around the city, and I use that as my calling to show you that there’s a lot of other great stuff out there to dance to.”
Dollar Disco lights up Smart Bar on Sunday 3.