It's not every day that I'm greeted at the door of a club with an "All Access Pass" package containing lube and a condom. No, I wasn't at some kinky dungeon sex party. I was somewhere far more dangerous—the bridge-and-tunnel hotspot known as Pacha in New York City—where a crowd was gathered for a nobler cause: Lifebeat's #MusicFightsAIDS fundraiser on the eve of World AIDS Day. In the name of working towards an AIDS-free world, an impressive array of DJs donated their time to the daytime rager, including A-Trak, Dirty South, Fedde Le Grand, Fehrplay, 3LAU, Tritonal, and Green Lantern.
The best set of the night was by the Norwegian hot shot Fehrplay, whose 6PM to 7PM slot set the tone for the rest of the evening. Opting for a progressive, synth-driven set, Fehrplay threw us back to the glory days of Pacha, when trance ruled supreme. #MusicFightsAIDS also promised some surprise guests—and delivered in the form of 3LAU, who showed up after not just selling-out but over-selling Webster Hall the night before. The electro-house producer took the time to premiere a few upcoming tracks—including his collaboration with the UK singer Estella, a reprise of Corona's "Rhythm Of The Night." "It was awesome doing it for charity," he later remarked.
A-Trak also gave his stamp of approval to the Lifebeat campaign, saying, "it's good using music [as] a positive force." The Fool's Gold boss dropped tracks like Shy Glizzy's "So Awesome" and Bobby Shmurda's "Hot N*gga," but it was only when he unleashed the forces of progressive house that the crowd truly went wild. Who knew one of the most overplayed genres of 2014 still has some life in it?
The energy kept building for Dirty South, whose name reverberated throughout the room before he even hit the decks. Electro-progressive house vibes ruled the party with South, and later, Tritonal taking on a bouncy frat party approach. Spotted: Pacha bros in their traditional attire (branded headbands), fist-pumping and stomping away.
Dutch house master Fedde Le Grand ended the night as the clock struck midnight—the official start of World AIDS Day. Grand surreptitiously dropped Michael Jackson's "Thriller" in the mix, an apt tribute to a star who understood the power of music to change the world. Wtih 1000 young Americans getting infected with HIV every month—and half of those infected not even aware of it—it's clear that the battle against HIV and AIDS is far from over. The stigma (and often, homophobia) associated with AIDS is one of the biggest reasons why too few people get tested. By bringing AIDS awareness into the club, the DJs of #MusicFightsAIDS are taking an important step in the right direction, one bass drop at a time.