Hello, what's up, and welcome to the Lite + Brite newsletter.
One result of all this time at home is that I, Leila, am sick of the chairs in my apartment. They are all the worst. I spend way too much time in my desk chair, the kitchen chair is hard and bad, and when I try to use my bed as a chair I wind up falling asleep instead of working. So the other day I impulse-bought a reading chair.
Well, it wasn't really that impulsive. It had been in the back of my mind since this one time, many months ago, when I briefly sat in a chair in the teen section at the Austin Central Library. I was kicked out almost immediately, because adults aren't allowed to hang around the teen section, but I recall these few moments as being the greatest sitting-and-reading experience of my life.
I have never returned to this chair, because I don't want to get yelled at (though to be clear, the teen librarian did not yell at me the first time; she just very gently told me that this was supposed to be a teen-only space, which I respect). So in the intervening months, this chair has grown in my memory into being the absolute epitome of chairs. Now in lockdown, all I do is sit on my inferior chairs and think about that one time, last summer, when I knew true chair fulfillment.
Since the Austin Public Libraries are now closed, there's no way for me to confirm that this sitting experience was as glorious as I remember. So instead I used the library's Ask a Librarian feature to request information about their chairs. I'm pretty sure this service exists so that trained librarians with MLS degrees can advise on research, but fortunately the librarians were very generous and emailed me back immediately with the name of the chair. (It's called a Tongue Chair, FYI, if you want to follow me down this rabbit hole.)
Unfortunately, the Tongue Chair costs way more than I am willing to spend, especially considering how fast my cat would throw up on it. So instead I googled and ordered a replica Tongue Chair, which arrived in a giant box on Friday, and it is... not great.
I messaged the Ask a Librarian mailbox a second time, because I am a maniac, and again they responded promptly and kindly, but at the end of the day they are librarians, not furniture artisans, and there's only so much they can do. (I hope they have a Zoom happy hour where all the librarians gather to discuss the bizarre requests that come to Ask a Librarian and say things like, "I wonder why that girl thought we would be even remotely interested in her chair shopping" and "does she not know that we have Masters degrees in library science").
Is the real Tongue Chair actually as utopian as I remember it being? How am I supposed to return this giant box containing a rip-off Tongue Chair to Overstock? Should I give up on sitting down altogether? I am exhausted.
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It's Monday, which means that tonight is No Lights No Lycra, our weekly virtual dance party in the dark. From 8-9:30pm CT, DJ Brian Blackout will be on Twitch, broadcasting his signature mix of indie, electropop, synthpop, disco, dusty rock + R&B records, regular funk, future funk, synthwave, new wave, many other waves, and much more live from his living room. Put it as a recurring event on your calendar or RSVP to the facebook event to get reminders.
If you want more Brian Blackout in your life, he's now doing an online radio show on KPISS's "Channel 2" every Thursday night at 10pm CST. The show is called No Humans Allowed and it's dedicated to music for robots, cyborgs, androids, mandroids, cylons, skinjobs, etc. You can tune in live or stream last week's episode here where we did a deep dive into late night television. Scroll down to the bottom for a track listing.
What is No Lights No Lycra?
Austin's weekly judgment-free, substance-free, high-impact dance thing in the dark. It's a DJ night that's not at the club, a workout that's not at the gym, a personal meditation that's anything but silent. Read more about us in the Austin Chronicle.
In this series, we'll be getting to know some of the Austinites who produce our favorite local events. This week, we're talking to Gino Scaramuzza, one of Austin's finest italo-disco DJs, who has come to us by way of Buenos Aires.
Please note that Mr. Scaramuzza is not a native English speaker. His answers to these questions have been edited for grammar and syntax with his oversight. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Lite + Brite: Can you give us a brief intro to your Austin events?
Gino Scaramuzza:I produce authentic situationist plays with an italo-disco soundtrack. These works are usually set in dance parties; they always star Gino Scaramuzza, Disc Jockey; and they usually feature a myriad of other local and international DJs, dancers, actors, and actresses. All of the music is from vinyl records—there is never any incorporation of computers or digital equipment. For the last three years, I have organized the annual "Halloween Disco Terror" at Sahara Lounge, in addition to countless other pop-up disco parties at Carousel Lounge, El Tenampa Bar, Dozen Street, Club Corona Bar, and Cheer Up Charlies.
L+B: For how long have you been organizing events here in Austin?
Gino Scaramuzza: I came to Texas for the first time in 2017. It's been a disco situation ever since!
L+B: Can you explain what, exactly, italo-disco is?
Gino Scaramuzza: That's a small question with a complicated answer. I was surprised when I came to the US how few people knew what it was. I would say that italo is electronic dance music from Italy and surrounding countries, from the early 80's, sung almost entirely in English. The sound has a huge variety. It can range from arpeggiated-synth-cosmic-robotic to more traditional four-on-the-floor disco sounds.
L+B: What is it about italo disco parties that especially appeals to you?
Gino Scaramuzza: I was born and raised in Palermo, Buenos Aires, in Argentina. Italo-disco was the music we danced to in the early 80s. At the time, there was a brutal military dictatorship in Argentina that, among more serious human rights abuses, censored lots of rock and disco. Records like Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" were illegal and considered subversive to society. In order to avoid government censors (and licensing fees), pirate records sprung up everywhere. The majority of these pirate records were italo disco music. Owning these records and dancing to this music was like giving a middle finger to The Man, and it was a way teleport away from the insanity of the time. If you're interested in understanding the sound, I would encourage you to look into Gapul Records, one of the more important Argentine pirate labels.
L+B: What’s the most memorable or unexpected thing that’s ever happened at an event you produced?
Gino Scaramuzza: There are countless tails of disco debauchery over the years, but one of the most memorable would have to be the very first play I ever produced in the US—at El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas. I played an electrifying three-hour set, outside in the middle of the desert, and the audience was a mix of Mexicans, cowboys, and hippies. As I was wrapping up, the owner of the Lost Horse Saloon (one of the only bars in Marfa) invited me to play another set. Before I knew it, my turntables and I were in the back of a stranger's pickup truck, speeding down the highway to the saloon. At the end of another three-hour set at the bar, the bartender closed down, shuffled the last customers out, and a handful of people stayed for another few hours, while I played records with the lights out so as not to attract the sheriff. My first show in the US, first in Texas—a clandestine disco party in a west Texas saloon hiding from the sheriff at 3AM. Totally unforgettable!
L+B: What makes your parties unique?
Gino Scaramuzza: The music, of course! Over many trips back and forth to Argentina, I have brought over 1,500 vinyl records to Austin. Apart from the 1980's Argentine-sound, every event is designed specifically to create a reawakening of authentic desire in every participant. Many audience members have told me that the show has a surreal quality, or that they feel they are participating in an elaborate prank designed just for them. Neither of these are exactly right, but a disassociated sense is definitely a side-effect of finding yourself in a situation in which life and art are authentically unified.
L+B: Do you organize events in both Austin and Buenos Aires? How would you compare the two scenes?
Gino Scaramuzza: Barring global pandemic, I travel to Buenos Aires for at least 2 months out of every year, usually July and August (TOO damn hot in Texas!). I always organize shows when I go back home—the public demands it! (A random Austin connection: in Buenos Aires, I collaborated with native Austinite Grant Dull, founder of ZZK Records. Austin should be very proud of him—he's done great work!)
Nothing that I have seen in the United States really compares to the Buenos Aires disco scene. As in Berlin and Barcelona, good parties in Buenos Aires start at one o'clock in the morning and might end 12 hours later with hundreds of people dancing together. Austin is the "live music capital of the world," and it doesn't make sense to expect, or falsely put, any of my own DJ parameters over this. DJ parties, and situationist plays, work better and have more history in a place like Buenos Aires. That's okay with me because I know there is still an audience that needs to hear my music and have an authentic experience here in Austin. It's always my deepest pleasure to provide it for them.
L+B: What are some of your favorite Austin events to attend that you don’t produce, or favorite venues to work with?
L+B: How can people support you during this time when we can’t go to events?
Gino Scaramuzza: Readers can offer support by stepping outside, raising their arms to the sky, and transmitting positive disco-mojo into the ionosphere. I am a luddite; I have an almost complete absence of involvement on social media or the internet. Over the years fans have started websites, Facebook, Instagram, and Soundcloud pages for me, but never with my approval or participation. I have always relied on face-to-face communication and constant artistic output to forge new relationships, in person.
L+B: While we’re all stuck at home, are there any streaming events from Austin creators that you’d recommend?
Gino Scaramuzza: The only "streaming event" I have listened to is the AMAZING radio show "No Humans Allowed" on KPISS's channel 2, every Thursday night, at 10pm. Now THAT'S a DJ who knows a lot about italo disco!
[Editor's note: Given that Brian is the DJ for "No Humans Allowed," we think both that Gino is telling us what we want to hear, and also that we agree.]
NLNL 061 Playlist
Here's what we played at last week's living room edition of No Lights No Lycra. If you missed our streaming session last Monday, you can listen to the playlist on YouTube here and join us for this week's party here.
Clouds Across the Moon - the RAH Band
Twist Your Arm (Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas Remix) - Ten Fé
Here Comes the Hotstepper - Ini Kamoze
Borderline - Tame Impala
Sexy MF - Prince
Clean Up Woman - Betty Wright
Real Love (club mix) - Mary J Blige
Keep a Knockin’ - Little Richard
Ma Baker - Boney M
Rich Girls (Hemingway Remix) - the Virgins
The Robots - Kraftwerk
No Memory (Luke Million Remix) - Scarlet Fantastic
White Horse - Laid Back
Funky Flushin’ - Tatsuro Yamashita
I’m Gonna Get You - Bizarre Inc.
Pow Pow Pow (Fabiolous Barker Edit) - Capricorn
What She Wants (She Said Disco Remix) - Wham!
Opposites Attract (DFP Edit) - Paula Abdul
What I Got Is What You Need (Ziggy Phunk Edit) - Unique
Work for Love - Ministry
Psychic City (Rory Phillips Remix) - Yacht
Get Innocuous - LCD Soundsystem
Man in the Middle - Flash & the Pan
Welcome to the Working Week - Elvis Costello
Surrender - Cheap Trick
The Unguarded Moment - the Church
All at Once - Home
No Humans Allowed 06
No Humans Allowed is Brian Blackout's weekly robot-themed radio show on KPISS.fm, which you can listen to on KPISS channel 2 at 10pm CT / 11pm ET on Thursdays.
Last week, we explored the theme of late night television, which led us to all kinds of interesting places. Naturally you've got your schlocky straight-to-VHS film soundtracks and the records inspired by them, but also VGM, chopped and screwed, songs about staying up all night, robot holocaust trailers, totally tubular hosts, and over the top 1-900 operators. Stream it here.
John Carpenter - The President Is Gone (Combo Re-Edit)
Duff Disco - Over to the Left
Korg - Past Memory
Yuzo Koshiro - The Streets of Rage
Gil Scott-Heron - Re-Ron
Fabio Frizzi & Giorgio Tucci - Zombie
Jackpot - Night Flight
Nite Lite - Baby Don’t You Know (Giordani Edit)
Midnight Star - Midas Touch (CFCF Remix)
Alisha - All Night Passion
DMX Krew - Seedy Films
Trans-X - Living on Video
A Number of Names - Sharevari
Andras Fox - Pontoon
Epson - Night Time II
Who are we?
We make this newsletter. We put on No Lights No Lycra each week. We do some other stuff here and there. We love going out to creative events in Austin, and we want you to join us. Visit us at http://liteandbriteatx.com/