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There are many factors that go into throwing a party regularly. You love the music. You need the money. Obviously, a good time is a key motivator. But one thing trumps them all: You want to build up and keep a following. Without this, a party cannot survive, which is why, despite numerous changes in venues—and even a change in city—Tim Pogo and Arturo Valle’s monthly Panic! night is a constant success. At lunch recently, Pogo, 37, and Valle, 36, talked about Panic!’s move to Chicago, how the night has evolved and how fans have stuck around for it all.
With a focus on new wave, Britpop and ’90s alternative rock, Pogo founded Panic! in D.C. in 2000, borrowing the name from the Smiths song. “No shame in that, I totally duped it from Morrissey,” Pogo says. “It’s no secret; the core is New Order, Joy Division, the Cure, the Smiths and Depeche Mode,” he adds. Building on the influence of those acts, bands like Interpol, the White Stripes, LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire have also featured heavily in the mix over the years.
Settling here in ’03, Pogo debuted Panic! at Smart Bar, where he and Valle met. A musical kindred spirit, Valle became Pogo’s partner in the party quickly thereafter, helping secure a more permanent residency at darkroom, where it’s been for the past six years.
With the Ukrainian Village bar’s closing this summer, Panic! has been without a home. At least until this weekend, when Panic! settles in at Beauty Bar on Friday 30 and continues monthly after that. (Follow @panicdanceparty on Twitter for exact dates.) Despite the venue-hopping, Valle is confident their crowd will follow them yet again. “It was one of these things where they all came up at the end of our run at darkroom saying they’ve been a part of it since the beginning,” Valle says. “Relationships started there, sometimes ended there. It became this awesome little community.”
Clearly, for both the DJs and their fans, Panic! is more than just a party. “The Panic! marriage count has got to be… There are several. There is even a recent Panic! baby,” Pogo says. “Sure it’s nice to make a few bucks playing cool music that you like, but that’s the part that never gets old. That’s the reward, I think.”
Panic! debuts at Beauty Bar on Friday 30.