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Cover 07/03/2013

Dance dance revolution

An oral history of how the Chemical Brothers, all-night raves, and a massive club scene made Orlando's EDM scene legendary

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Eddie Pappa aka DJ Icey

Photo: Photo by @kimballcollins, License: N/A

Photo by @kimballcollins


Cliff Tangredi aka Cliff T started DJ’ing in 1990 and was a resident at the Edge from 1992 to 1996 alongside DJ Icey. He has performed nationwide, as well as in Peru and Colombia, sharing stages with Tiesto, BT, Seb Fontaine, Sasha and Digweed. He’s currently a resident at
Sky Sixty.

Eli Tobias has been a downtown scene fixture since the late ’80s, working at defining Orlando clubs like the Edge, the Club at Firestone, Kit Kat Club, Go Lounge, Yab Yum, Renaissance and Cyberzone. Tobias’ scene involvement eventually culminated in the opening of his own bar, Thee Grotto, in 2002, where he continues to keep the golden-era flame.

Peter Wohelski was a DJ and alternative music director at Tampa community radio station WMNF (88.5 FM) from 1986 to 1991. He lived in London from 1991 to 1992, returned to Tampa and started Trip Magazeen, frequenting raves and parties in Tampa and Orlando. From 1995 to 1998, he was director of A&R for Astralwerks Records (Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Future Sound of London and many more). Currently, he’s a label manager for Beatport, based in Denver, Colo.

These are the major pioneers, and below is their story. For a longer, more detailed version, visit orlandoweekly.com.

A Scene Develops

FORTIER: AAHZ started it all, really. It was the hub of the boom [from] ’88 and ’89 to 1992 [and when it] re-opened in ’93. We heard about a club in Orlando that played all house music and was open all night to morning. This was AAHZ. From first entering, I was hooked and started digging more into the music and collecting records. I moved to Orlando and was still going to AAHZ religiously each Saturday night. As I got more into buying records and making tapes, the tapes started circulating around and that put my name and tapes in people’s hands. [AAHZ] stood alone, really, until the Edge opened [in] 1992.

CLIFF T: Back then, it was just underground dance music. Techno, house, whatever you want to call it. Most people didn’t even have an idea of what to call it, but they loved it. People came together for the music at clubs through the mixtapes that were copied over and over because there was no way to hear this music other than to go out. I didn’t get into DJ’ing clubs until about ’92 to ’93, but when I finally did, I knew it would change my life forever. It’s all I wanted to do.

WOHELSKI: Sonically, Orlando was hugely influenced by the U.K. hardcore, Italian piano house and Miami bass sounds – big, progressive piano samples, sped-up breakbeats, car stereo-driven low-end theory like bass, freestyle and electro. Alternatively, in Tampa, there was a tougher edge because of the scene’s early industrial influences – proper Detroit techno and Chicago acid house, rougher proto drum & bass breakbeats, and later German trance on labels like Harthouse and EyeQ, all of which influenced the likes of the Hallucination/Rabbit in the Moon crew. There were a lot of miles put on the I-4 corridor between Tampa and Orlando by clubbers back then.

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