This post ran originally on THUMP Netherlands. In the last twenty years, Midwesterner Zak Khutoretsky, AKA DVS1, has become one of the most profound techno DJs in the world. In 2009, he was famously signed by Ben Klock's Klockworks imprint, and in the time since Khutoretsky's sets have become even more versatile and elegant. Nowadays, he's is a resident at Berghain and tours the entire world—if you're one a lucky bunch perhaps you've seen him with his "wall of sound'" in tow, that even Jeff Mills wants to use. But how did it all begin? We asked Khutoretsky about his very first club experiences, and this is what he told us.
My first club experiences were in Minneapolis at the legendary First Ave Club (of Prince, and Purple Rain fame, for those who don't know). They had S.N.D.P. (Sunday Night Dance Party) which was split across the massive club with over 21's drinking in the bar upstairs and all the underage kids on the dancefloor below. I was somewhere around 15-16 at the time, so it had to have been 1991-92. I was sneaking out of my house taking buses and cabs downtown to get in [to the club] as often as I could convince my mother that I was going to sleep early to be ready for school on Monday!
Looking back, [the clubs] were smart about how they ran the night, having the DJs play 5-10 tracks each across various genres. You could hear proper house, techno, hip-hop, grunge, punk, soul, disco, all in small increments throughout the night. They had visual screens playing old retro imagery, real lighting, and had the feel of what I would later understand was a proper club. As we were just kids at the time, we were slowly finding where our attention and taste was focusing—by mixing the genres, you would literally see the shift in the dance floor when your music was played. We would wait patiently, or play video games In the little side arcade until it was our turn to get on the dancefloor! The DJ booth was up high in a balcony, so people faced every direction. Some danced on the floor, some on the side on raised platforms. People just danced anywhere and anywhere!
It didn't finish on the dancefloor though, for many of us that was just our introduction. Once the night was over and you went outside, all the local promoters were there pushing their parties. If you realized you liked house and/or techno, then you'd be drawn to that promoter handing out fliers for a different rave the next weekend. Slowly, you could see that you started to meet like-minded people and future life-long dance floor friends. From there I found my way into my first parties, and experiences with what I do now [as a DJ].
Shortly after my introduction to the rave scene in Minneapolis, I was shipped off to boarding school on the east coast in Connecticut. Luckily, my father lived in Manhattan only a two hour train ride away, so I was sneaking into the city when I could—of course I was lying about where I was going as I was much too young to get in to most places. But in NYC you can find anything, so I acquired a fake ID at 17, met some other party kids, and found my way into both illegal raves and now defunct legendary clubs like Tunnel, Limelight, and Palladium.
I came back to Minneapolis for vacations and school breaks and shared my East Coast experiences with my rave friends, and slowly but surely got my ideas for my first parties. Looking back I realize now how lucky I was to be introduced to music in such a legendary venue as First Ave, which is still open today after 46 years!