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Sela McCray lived in New York City in the early Eighties. "I was a Billie Holiday head. Then one night my wild roommate brought me to a punk club. I was fascinated by the whole culture, so I became a punk ... one of the three black punks in New York," recalls McCray, who now goes by the name Sela V in the Miami music community. Sela spent her time at the legendary Mudd Club and CBGB: "I had my bleached blond hair and my Doc Martens, and I was proud." Eventually she put an ad in the Village Voice seeking musicians, and began her own punk band, Hands Through Glass. "I didn't have pins through my ears. That's a misconception. It was all about the music," she attests. The scene was frequented by artists, musicians, and actors. "I met John Belushi at the Mudd Club. It was like a month before he died," Sela says.
At the same time, Andre "Soul" Williams, a hip-hop and house music DJ , was frequenting many of the same spots. Punk, dance music, and hip-hop were still young and seemed to have no trouble sharing an audience. "Clubs in the Eighties in New York were phenomenal," Andre says. "You could let your inhibitions go."
Sela married and had two kids. She hung up her Doc Martens and moved to Miami with her husband, whose work brought them here. Sela's husband was an active DJ, and when they split up, the records stayed at her house, so she began learning to mix and scratch. Andre Soul left New York for promotional work and a job screening passengers at Miami International Airport.
Fast-forward to the new millennium. Sela was continuing to explore different musical genres. She decided to attend an African drum class, the instructor of which happened to be Andre Soul, who is a master of the African djembe drum. After class, the two began talking, and the idea for the monthly warehouse party Residence was born. DJ Peace and DJ Chilly who are friends of Sela and Andre's, and are now regular DJs at Residence loved the idea and teamed up with them to organize the monthly party.
"We wanted to start a nonpretentious party for people who love dance and music, without all the bullcrap," Andre says. Adds Sela: "There's all these problems at other clubs; you have to deal with the parking, then you can't even get past the door." Their aim is to bring back the type of party they fell in love with in New York in the Eighties with no VIP room, where sneakers and sweats are acceptable attire, where the mood is one of inclusiveness. After a brief stop at a cavernous building on the northern tip of the Design District, Residence moves this month to its new digs on NE Seventeenth Street, a spacious clubbing spot known colloquially as "The Budious Warehouse" for local promoter Joe Budious.
Tagging the event in its eighth incarnation this month "a classic dance and soulful house music party," Andre and Sela want Residence to be an alternative to the swanky clubs on the Beach and downtown. "The parking is free, and we're not gonna check to see if you're wearing designer stuff at the door. All that has nothing to do with having fun," Sela says.
"At a lot of these clubs, it's very much about name-dropping.... Everybody wants to be a shot-caller and big-baller, but there's no such thing as that when you're actually having fun," Andre says. "Our party is for mature-thinking people who know what they want out of life, who aren't followers."
The door policy is relaxed; in fact you can bring your own drinks. "We also have Silvia, who makes these amazing chicken wraps, and Coconut Will, who makes jewelry out of coconuts," Andre adds.