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Jersey Club Came to Brooklyn and It was Glorious

The stars of THUMP's SUB.Culture doc rolled into Verboten’s main room and threw down sets that doubled as user’s guides to the explosive genre they’ve created.

by VICE Thump
Jan 10 2015, 3:05am


Photo by Sara Wass

Last night, a plush club in the middle of Williamsburg's nightlife row became the unlikely site for a celebration of Newark's exploding club scene. Following a screening of THUMP's SUB.Culture documentary on the rapidly-growing movement, Jersey Club, the film's stars—DJ Sliink, Uniiqu3, DJ Tameil, DJ Tim Dolla, R3LL and Tr!ck$—rolled into Verboten's main room, throwing down energetic sets that doubled as user's guides to the explosive genre they've created and pushed forward. 

More so than any other club night in recent memory, this party felt like a joyful family reunion, as friends crammed the backstage area exchanging hugs, taking selfies and swilling champagne. Ballroom DJ Mike Q ditched the podium, instead prowling the dancefloor snapping photos. Venus X, one of the queens of New York's underground, danced behind the DJ booth next to Kay Drizz. DJ Sliink roamed around with a bottle of champagne in hand, a gold crown pitched precariously on his head. Even a security guard from the club was overheard saying, "I'm born and raised in Newark, baby, and if they play 'Swing That Shit'"—one of Tim Dolla's seminal Jersey Club hits—"I might have to dip out to the dancefloor!" 

Meanwhile, ballroom and vogue dancers filled the floor. Jersey Club's frenetic pacing and barrage of vocal samples sometimes culled from sources as unexpected as Limp Bizkit and the Spice Girls are like catnip for dancers, who formed tight circles as they duked it out over hair flips and gravity-defying back arches. 

At one point in the evening, Tri!ck$, one of the younger DJs in the crew, grabbed the mic and shouted out the birthplace of this movement. "If you're from Jersey, I want to hear you say yeeeaaahhh!" More than half of the club resounded with an enthusiastic roar. 

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This fierce territorial allegiance isn't a fluke, but rather a response to the evolution of Jersey Club from a local movement to an international phenomenon. While DJ Sliink, Uniiqu3, DJ Tameil, and DJ Tim Dolla are legends in their own right, there is no doubt that as the sound has gone global, it has also been appropriated and watered down by DJs with little connection to the original scene. In the final section of THUMP's documentary, which delves into this issue, DJ Sliink put it like this: "We've been doing it for so long, and now other people are getting paid of it. It's not fair."

"You should always try to reach out and connect. If you got inspired off them, you could connect with the people who inspired you to do such music," added Uniiqu3.

Some European stars like Sam Tiba, Cashmere Cat, and Trippy Turtle have been early adopters of the Jersey Club sound, recognizing how well its energetic bounce is suited to both club sets and festival stages. But even though these DJs have paid their dues by connecting with the scene's originators and mentoring younger New Jersey artists, the same cannot be said of some imitators who have latched onto the sound's trendiness without fully understanding its culture. 

Still, Thursday night's party was a celebration of this culture, and the outpouring of creativity that has allowed this scene to flourish. As the genre's ubiquitous bed squeak sample—cut from the track "Some Cut" by Atlanta rap group Trillville—filled the club, it didn't matter if we were in Brooklyn or Newark. The spirit of Jersey Club was thriving. 

Watch all three parts of THUMP's SUB.Culture Jersey Club documentary, and check out Sara Wass' photos from the party in the gallery below. 

All photos by Sara Wass