When people say “house music,” they’re talking about one of two things. Either they’re referring to the largely underground, groove-heavy electronic music subgenre infused with R&B, funk, world music and disco … or a catch-all description for any song with a 4/4 dance beat, especially those on the pop charts. And when a Vegas club claims to champion house music, you can bet it means the latter and not the former.
This differential became apparent on Saturday, June 2, at Marquee Dayclub. The popular pool spot had scheduled and advertised an afternoon exclusively featuring authentic house music DJs, co-headlined by west coast house favorites Miguel Migs and Mark Farina. But when it was time for Farina’s set, he was asked to leave the decks.
So what happened? “It was the end of the afternoon and management made a decision to reschedule him for another day,” said a rep from Marquee. However, Farina said on his Twitter account that his crewmember was told the dayclub’s manager “was getting complaints from their table service crowd.” And, according to an attendee, Farina was replaced by another DJ who began playing more commercial house.
This is hardly a common occurrence for a dance music veteran and pioneer — or even at Marquee, where we’ve heard and enjoyed real house music in the past. The spot famously opened with electronic dance music on both weekend nights — a rarity for non-afterhours spots on the Strip — and openly touted its house credentials. But it’s also not the first time a respected national DJ has been bumped from the decks by club management. DJ Jazzy Jeff was pulled from the Surrender booth in 2010, reportedly due to his musical selections, and in 2001, the former Club Ra benched house duo Deep Dish after an athlete VIP demanded to hear hip-hop.
Marquee, which led all national dance spots in earnings last year, doesn’t make the majority of its dough at the box office or its bars — that $70 million largely comes from its bottle service sales and the rental of its cabanas, both typically costing a visiting party in the thousands. While it may still be a universal faux paux for Joe Clubber to walk up to a DJ and request a song, I’ve heard multiple times about VIPs waving their big wallets around, trying to treat a club like their jukebox — and sometimes, they get their way. Even Deadmau5 has his price, as the electro/prog house titan reportedly netted $100,000 for dropping Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On a Prayer” at XS last year, upon a VIP’s request.
If Farina’s assertion is true, the incident couldn’t have happened at a worse time for Marquee: It’s one of the host venues for Electric Daisy Carnival week, which starts Tuesday and is threatening to overtake Miami’s Winter Music Conference as the big go-to dance music confab in the U.S. Now’s not the time to have your musical integrity called into question. Farina may have been reserved and resigned about his ouster, but if underground house legend Danny Tenaglia — who once berated sound techs at the former C2K in front of a packed club — is so much as looked the wrong way by the bottle service clubbers he so loathes during his June 11 gig at Marquee’s pool, expect a lot more noise and headlines.