Today marks the five-year-anniversary of Body Worx, a labor of love created by resident DJ Dretraxx (Andrew S.) that happens at Temple Bar monthly.
Dretraxx sat down with PLAYGROUND DETROIT to discuss everything Body Worx to get you in the mood before the 5th anniversary party tonight, Friday July 12 with special guest and frequent Body Worx collaborator Black Noi$e (Vanity Press and Portage Garage Sounds, and recently back in town after touring with Earl Sweatshirt).
Details: Temple Bar, 10pm-2am. $3 before midnight. Facebook
Lizz Wilkinson: Tell me the Body Worx origin story.
Dretraxx: I played at Temple Bar a little over 5 years ago in 2014 and became chummy with owner, George [Boukas]. George asked me to play an open date one-off event, and after texted me and asked if I’d do a residency.
LW: What’s the story behind the “Body Worx” name?
I have always had a passion for early 90’s late 80’s house and techno. Everything seemed less serious and more focused on fun. I was just getting my bearings in Detroit after graduating college and was starting to DJ again and was getting sick of the “deep house” all-black clothing, Mr. Serious direction most events were heading.
I was at Movement in 2014 and was really inspired by the festival and after parties and made up my mind that if I had creative control of an event, I would focus on more hype and fun dance music a la the New Dance Show and call it “Body Worx.” For the name, I thought it sounded cool so I went it.
LW: How did you first start DJing?
I’ve been DJing since high school, where I threw a couple of parties and would DJ with a friend using Traktor software and bring out a tower pc to a party and then plug directly into a sound system. Later I got a midi controller and was able to actually cue up songs.
After graduating HS, I went to Michigan State and got some of my own gear. I moved into a housing co-op and was able to DJ and host events and raves. Then the whole co-op system was really welcoming of those events, although the flavor of the week was wubby dubstep. I set myself apart by playing mostly disco, house, and techno.
I graduated from college and moved back home to them Metro-Detroit area where I basically lost all my DJ-cred from East Lansing. I started to pick it back up after going out more to Detroit for events and meeting people.
LW: Has Body Worx always existed at Temple Bar in its current format (Dretraxx + another guest DJ going back to back)?
The event has always been at Temple Bar and has always been B2B. I hate the structure of a line-up and only like to book people that play similar fun and energetic music as me.
I try to bring at least two or three crates to each event. When I was younger I was really into ghettotech mixes— where they mix maybe 100 records in an hour. I try to emulate that by keeping the tension ratcheted up while flying through my crates. I feel like that style of DJing is great for a club environment. Unlike the Equalizer after parties that I’ve been throwing in Eastern Market with Sard (which tend well to longer, deeper mixes and letting them play out and ride), Body Worx is pretty damn hype for a club night. I keep my mixes short and interesting. I want people to dance, sweat, scream and shout.
Body Worx used to be all vinyl (out of necessity as Temple Bar had a pair of Technics CDJs that were essentially non-functioning). I ended up purchasing a pair of crappy Gemini CDJs that took USB. Vinyl can be pricey and I have a lot of DJ friends that are 100% digital DJs. I don’t like laptops in the booth (outside of projecting video art on the TVs in the club). Vinyl can be a huge barrier to entry for a lot of people.
The Temple Bar DJ booth is like being in a really nice quality little DJ studio. They have turntables, mixer, CDJs, and great sounding monitors in an isolated booth. The booth is raised above the dancefloor and separated by a 6’x3’ window. It’s like looking into an aquarium and seeing all the fish dancing. It’s great seeing everyone get jellyfish-y to the tunes. The dynamic made me create a Spongebob Squarepants logo that says, “Dretraxx Househead”.
[At this exact moment, Dretraxx pulled out his phone and posted the logo on his Instagram.]
LW: Why did you select Black Noi$e to be the guest for this 5th anniversary show?
Black Noi$e (Rob) has been a Body Worx guest multiple times. I’ve known Rob since the Metal Frat in Ann Arbor. We have had mutual circles of friends and eventually got to know each other at those shows. Rob played in a hardcore band or two that would play at the frat.
Rob and I occasionally throw an event called Function Séance at Temple Bar. It’s basically an extra Body Worx but with a more spooky and haunted theme.
Rob is a lot of fun to DJ with. He isn’t afraid to jump around genres and BPMs. I admire him for that. Being versatile in a dance club is necessary. People get bored of the same stuff for too long. Rob keeps you and the audience on your toes. He is a very humble a warm person and I’m glad to have him back in the booth with me.
LW: Body Worx has been going on for five years and I refuse to believe that there aren’t some amazing stories. Tell me some of those.
When LCA (Little Caesars Arena) got finished, Kid Rock held a handful of shows at the arena, which is right next to Temple Bar. A lot of Kid Rock fans came into the bar one night after his show let out and were not happy that they had to listen to house music. In particular, two very Macomb County women were not digging the music. Towards the end of the night, one of the ladies pushed a note into the DJ booth via the mail slot [there is a mail slot in the DJ booth at Temple Bar] that said, “Fuck you, pot smokers.” I ran outside and these women were trying to get into an Uber, but they couldn’t find the car. I stood on the curb roasting them about their thick-stitched, rhinestone-covered jeans. They looked really embarrassed they got caught so eventually they scuttled away into their Uber.
People love to wipe out at Body Worx. There has to be some law of physics preventing people from holding onto their drinks in the bar. People are always spilling in the middle of the dance floor. You will see a crowd of people grooving and then someone disappears below the horizon of the crowd.
The landscape of the Cass Corridor is changing so you can eventually expect Q-bros (Quicken Loans) to show up. Some of them are pretty entitled and will boldly walk into the bar without paying or ignore the dynamic of the event and stir up drama. George and Larry are no-bullshit people and are not afraid of kicking them out. I have seen a number of these people throw tantrums and leave abruptly.
One time someone tried to request Michael Jackson via the mailslot but spelled it like “Mikaekl Jackson.” I still have the note!
Body Worx takes over some clubbers and you will often see people in various states of undress in the audience. Most of those people are extremely respectful and just wanna shed some layers after catching the spirit of house. Can you blame them?
LW: What are some staple records or tracks that you’re excited to play for Body Worx? What inspired the sound and look of the night?
Eau De Chanté by Delicious Inc. That record never leaves the record bag. I love playing it. Super hype.
I used to close out with UGK’s International Players Anthem. So you will definitely hear it on Friday. I’m very big into audio-visual aspect. I have a bunch of rave footage and New Dance Show [called a low-budget local Detroit Soul Train that aired from 1988-1995, four nights a week from 6pm-7pm on WGPR-TV 62] footage and I have it cut strategically for the evening. The dancers always seem to be synced up to the music.
LW: Tell me about the Body Worx logo. Why the smiley face?
The yellow smiley face is the international symbol of acid house. It’s an easy and recognizable. A lot of people have begun to associate the night with the smiley, which is awesome. Dollar stores have a plethora of smiley face goods that make great party favors for Body Worx.
For the event I have a Body Worx neon sign (thanks Lisa!) and a big smiley face flag that hangs behind the booth. I also hand out little .25” smiley face stickers at the event. You’ll often find them all over your body days later. I’ve used the logo on towels, shirts, pins, and long-sleeves.
LW: What does the future look like for Body Worx?
I want to do more adventurous bookings. I’ve had a lot of non-Detroit DJs express interest in playing. I’ve booked people from all over the country and beyond that want to play a hot-sweaty club with a receptive audience. I also want to expand the Body Worx brand outside of a club setting. I am aiming for a 12 hour after hours event. Most after hours skew dark techno, but I want to keep the event thematically like a traditional Body Worx but more lawless and longer. I get so bummed at 2am when the music has to wind down.
Beyond that, I’m happy to keep the formula similar to what I’ve been doing the past five years. I’m forever grateful for everything Temple Bar has provided me and I feel successful when I’m in the fishbowl.
LW: Describe Body Worx in one sentence?
One sentence—Detroit’s source for hype underground dance music.
LW: If someone has never been to Body Worx before, why should they go for the Anniversary and for the next five years?
The entire experience of Temple Bar. It’s a weirdo wood paneled dive bar with an incredible sound system. Body Worx is very serious about fun DJs crafting a full audio-visual and emotional experience. The event and space is very hedonistic and open-minded. It compels people to dance and let go in a safe environment.
LW: What has Body Worx given you?
It’s given me consistency. I’ve come to realize (at almost 30) that I need structure to flourish. Some days are often spent watching too much Netflix or playing hours of video games. In my mind, those are days wasted. I love my Switch and Forensic Files, but ultimately I need something to keep me motivated and to have on my mind.
I look forward to having a monthly party to plan my schedule around. It’s a friendship that keeps evolving the more you put into it. It holds me accountable to keep the night fresh and to not sleep on my what I have.
More often than not, if I meet someone new in Detroit or in other dance music communities I will hear, “Oh! You run Body Worx! Love that event.” It’s a great feeling to be recognized.
It also makes me feel like I’m giving back to the dance music community. I basically sacrifice 4 hours a month to ensure there is a club experience that people want to attend. The one downside to this is that I’m rarely the one enjoying it since I’m in the booth all night.
LW: Which two DJs would you trust to run it in your place so that you could experience Body Worx the way everyone else is able?
Black Noi$e and Shigeto would run it. I think they get the essence of the night.
LW: Which other DJs have been frequent collaborators and guests at Body Worx?
So many, but a few are Black Noi$e, Holly Johnson (I’ve been DJing with Holly since college and), Sard, Marshall Applewhite, Scott Zacharias.
LW: Who would be your dream Body Worx guest DJs with whom you’d get to go B2B?
Jesse the Body, who was the DJ on The New Dance Show. I think I read in Youtube comments that he died a few years back but who knows how reliable that intel is. I would love to play with Legowelt or I-f, but I’d probably be too star struck and just watch the whole time.
Any final thoughts on Body Worx?
In the words of Omar-S, “Thank u 4 letting me be myself”.
Need more information? Body Worx has a party line at 313-451-4070.
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