Most folks know Tomas Ceddia as cohead, along with Joe Budious, of the events contingent called Aquabooty. A few more might be aware he's one of the cats who, along with Will Renuart, recently opened Electric Pickle in the space that was once Circa 28. But what many might not get is that Ceddia not only spins every Friday night at the Pickle, but also has been turntabling for the past two decades.
In fact, the powerhouse party thrower got his start on the steel wheels in grad school at a Toronto joint called King's Cross a full seven years before Aquabooty was even born. But the party that made him famous was finally born a decade ago in the Big Bad Apple, and after a half-decade stand there, he handed off the reins in order to expand the brand to Miami. And here is where he's been bringing it on ever since.
In 1999, though, there was still a bohemian side to South Beach, and Ceddia and company at once exemplified and represented a large part of that fast action. Last summer saw Aquabooty hold an exceedingly successful throwback series, Private Sessions, at the Raleigh, and he's still ever ready to inject the strip with some of that old-found glory. But now for Ceddia, it's almost always all about the mainland.
Tomas Ceddia: At the Fuck Art, Let's Dance party. With Osunlade. Friday, December 4. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Doors open at 10 p.m.; call for admission price. Ages 21+ with ID. 305-456-5613.
And by mainland we mean midtown Miami, site of the increasingly vibrant Electric Pickle, which just so happens to be within skateboarding distance of Ceddia's home. Midtown, of course, also is the spot where Wynwood segues into the Design District. And it's the confluence of creative minds here that best echoes Ceddia's sensibility.
It's a sensibility that begins and ends with what he calls "beat music," something "deeper and a little more visceral" than what's on the average club playlist. Ceddia, who was born in the Bronx and raised among "hippie types" in upstate New York, has pretty much eschewed his rocker roots (an uncle was in the Rascals). Instead he has perfected a spin that swings from rare groove to new disco and bounces through all danceable points along the way. "It's gotta have funk and it's gotta have soul," he says. And legions of clubgoers readily agree.
Hitting the Pickle on any given Friday night, you might hear Ceddia drop a Ghost Town edit from Dennis "Citizen" Kane (a frequent Pickle visitor). And then he might let slip something from, say, Billy Ocean or the Popular People's Front. Then again, you might hear a series of semi-recognizable grooves known only to a bootlegger. There was even a time when the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau recruited Ceddia to create a soundtrack for the Magic City. So you might stumble upon a song from his disc Sweet Dreams, one of Billboard's "Top Five Hotel Compilations of 2005." Whatever he's playing, though, you can be sure it's got a groove you can count on.
And while it's true Ceddia doesn't man the turntable at every single Aquabooty event, it's also true he spins enough of the parties to give Aquabooty its signature sound. Case in point will be this Friday night, when the Pickle hosts the seventh annual Fuck Art, Let's Dance party, now one of Art Basel's basic musts. As the hype sheet states, "Basel has become as much about partying for art's sake as it is about the actual art. [And] this is the party where all the cool kids, assorted underground weirdoes, and dance-floor aficionados flock."
Ceddia will be joined by "West Coast, UK transplant and cult left-field disco administrator" DJ Harvey (Sarcastic Disco, Map of Africa) in Room 1 and "Yoruba Records head honcho and high priest of spiritual house music" DJ/ producer Osunlade in Room 2. And if you've ever gotten a whiff of what goes down in midtown during one of these throwdowns, your schedule is already set.
Tomas Ceddia's top five:
1. "All the Way Down," Etta James
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2. "Who's Getting It Now," Chocolate Milk
3. "Cadillac," the Revenge
4. "My Baby Stays Out All Night," Popular People's Front
5. "Get on the Right Side of NYC," Todd Terje re-edit