Similar to the interlaced fabric that the title encourages, MESH is a new queer party contributing to the creative network of Pittsburgh’s dance community. Deeply inspired by Hot Mass at home and other queer parties abroad, Chad Beisner and Michael Fischer established their event to provide another safe place for music and freedom of expression.
They met during the very beginning of their college years at film school. Fischer says, “We met in freshman orientation at Point Park University and I skipped out to go out to a club and dance and came back the next morning covered in glitter and a total mess, so he walked up to me and the rest is history.”
As Pittsburgh natives they both share a passion for music and an appreciation for places that encourage creativity. Fischer says he has “always had a deep love for music, dancing, and positive creative spaces in general! I grew up listening to all different types of music from disco to punk and my love for dance music derived from that.”
Beisner, who also DJs as ChadKid, started exploring dance music in high school. “I eventually bought a controller for my laptop and started DJing at my friends’ high school parties. At the time I wasn’t really exposed to techno music at all and was playing R&B edits and disco. When I first started to go out when I was in college, Hot Mass was one of the first places Micheal ever dragged me to. That place really sparked my interest in techno and more underground electronic music. Without them I don’t know what I even be doing right now.”
Pittsburgh’s local dance scene has been growing significantly over the past several years. Although ripe with events at Hot Mass, they still have a small scene comparatively to other cities. Too many promoters in these environments can cause a competitive atmosphere and a dilution of quality, but MESH is on more of a symbiotic mission.
“Our city as a whole has been growing like crazy lately. And after being in our amazing scene and community of queers and music heads we have here in Pittsburgh, I’ve been able to see it grow as well over the past couple years. Michael and I have been wanting to start our own party for a while now, and we’ve done a couple of smaller things in the past that went well,” Besiner says. “But now the city is at a point where we have room for more than one queer techno party without it seeming like competition, so we figured now would be the perfect time to step in. It’s been great to be able to book and showcase artists that I love and give them a space to show off their talents to the rest of this amazing city.”
Fischer adds that the creation of MESH is to provide another safe place for queer freedom and visibility. With Hot Mass and some local bars there are certainly spaces already established, he says, “but there can never be enough.”
It’s also important to note that their party differs from Hot Mass in many ways. MESH is not an after hours party, which has a prominent impact on the overall atmosphere. Besiner explains, “I think there’s a lot that’s fundamentally different about our party from Mass for sure. And not that Mass/Honcho is doing anything wrong, quite the opposite, but we just wanted to create a different kind of queer party. Our parties aren’t all nighters and there’s no spaces for sex. Not that those are bad things but they can definitely create a different kind of dance floor vibe at a party. After traveling some last summer and going to parties like In Training in Cleveland and Jarvi’s Acid Daddy parties in Chicago, I was inspired to create a party with a similar vibe to those.”
Liberation through dress, dance and sound that can be found at these parties and within Club Pittsburgh is also welcomed for those who attend MESH. “Hot Mass is like a second home for me, I’m so grateful that I can be part of this amazing community and be a part of amazing events. MESH is very much inspired by the community Hot Mass has created. Hot Mass is a space where anyone can be who they are,” Fischer says. “Trust me I’ve worn some crazy shit there and all I got was love. MESH is another one of those spaces where we want everyone to express their true selves and showcase artistry of all queer people no matter where they came from or where they are going. Like I said before, there can never be too many queer spaces.”
Often adorned in mesh fabric, Beisner and Fischer developed a signature look. They decided to title their party after their favorite breathable dancing material, only to find the poetic parallels revealed as the event transpired. “As we thought about it more the better and better it worked. Mesh is breathable and unisex fabric and we like to think of our party as breathable and unisex too. Comfortable and accessible to everyone from all areas of the queer spectrum,” Beisner says.
Queer parties play such an important role in the music scene on a global level. These parties collectively work to not only shape the scene at large but also have a major impact for local communities by providing a space of acceptance where there is freedom to just be yourself.
“I think queer focus and visibility is important in any scene. Often times trans, non-binary, and just queer people in general are pushed out of scenes which sucks because there are so many amazing artists that can’t showcase their work. One of the main goals of MESH is to showcase these amazing artists.” – MICHAEL FISCHER
Beisner adds, “Queers throw the best parties! I think all the queer people I know in our music scene are doing the most interesting things. And a good queer party will draw in people who might not be too into the music and turn them into someone obsessing over it. I know several people that Honcho has done that for, including myself. I’m sure all these other amazing parties have done the same for many others.”
MESH launched on April 28 at Cattivo, a bar and venue in Lawrenceville. Beisner provided opening duties prior to headliner Shane Christian, who DJs as Kiernan Laveaux. Not only is she an advocate for queer and trans rights, and co-creator of Cleveland’s In Training parties, but she is a growing name in the techno community, especially after her performance during this year’s Club Toilet and Industry Brunch parties in Detroit.
They both share responsibilities for the event. Beisner focuses on booking and wrangling the music and lighting equipment while Fischer handles budgeting, venue and space decoration. When the night of the event arrives their friends collaborate to lend helping hands. “It does overlap and we work together to find great spaces and artists. We are also lucky enough to have amazing friends that jump at the opportunity to help set up, work the door, and much more. It would be impossible without them,” Fischer says.
Barring the space being just a little too big, the evening was a success. Fischer says, “Our event at Cattivo was great! The turnout was lovely. The only downside was that the space was huge! It’s hard to fill a room that big. The staff at Cattivo was very accommodating and great! They welcomed us techno weirdos with open arms. Shane’s set was amazing! She is such a talented DJ and it was such a honor to have her play our first party!” Beisner agrees that their first event went smoothly and free of any problems. Venue hunting is tough in Pittsburgh, especially when looking for an underground spot that is also the perfect energy for a queer friendly environment. Fischer continues, “Finding a space is difficult no matter where you are, I find. Pittsburgh has very strict liquor laws and that can be a bit of a challenge especially with after hours parties. For now, having a non-after hours party is great. People are often intimidated by after hours so while we build a following, this is perfect. We would love to find a space to settle in monthly but for now we are still on the search!”
“We want to build a very strong sense of community and a good vibe of queer friends dressing up and having a good drunken time on the dance floor together to music they love. That’s what we are hoping to bring to Pittsburgh with this party.” – CHAD BEISNER
Beisner agrees on the difficulty found while scouting locations. “It has definitely been the hardest part of organizing this party. All the existing gay/queer spaces are not fit for any kind of party like this, and some of the spaces that are aren’t necessarily the safest places for queer people … We aren’t opposed to staying in one place, but definitely are always on the lookout for new and interesting places. We wanna keep it fresh and expose people to new spaces in the city as well. Also we really wanna do a poolside day party, so if anyone has any leads on that please contact us,” he says with a laugh.
Finding The Glitter Box Theater for their next installation of MESH is a dream come true space, they say. Hailing from Chicago on June 30 will be Jarvi, and opening will be a live set from local duo A&L. Beisner says, “This time the space is gonna be perfect I think. Glitterbox is this multi-use queer art space that just opened recently, it’s the perfect size for us and it will be great to have it in an actual queer owned space instead of a bar. We are bringing in Mike Masai’s amazing sound system that is gonna fill this space perfectly. And on top of everything this space is BYOB so it will be easy and cheap for everyone to get drunk and get dancing.”
Jarvi is a non-binary artist prominently known in Chicago’s underground queer house and techno scene. Among the Naughty Bad Fun Collective crew they can be found putting on parties at Smartbar for Planet Chicago, and also on their own endeavor hosting Acid Daddy’s Haus of Diesel at Berlin Nightclub. Opening the evening will be Pittsburgh’s A&L, a live collaborative performance of raw techno from Alexis Icon and Andre.
“We are so excited for Jarvi! The Glitterbox Theater is more of an art space while Cattivo was a bar. The set-up of Glitterbox is a little more our style and it’s BYOB which is always great,” Fischer adds. “As usual people can expect dancing, techno and lots of mesh.”
Eventually, the last track will play and the lights will come up and after everyone has gone home, Beisner and Fischer will be planning another event. Although anyone who throws parties does so for their own unique drive, there is always a common reason to do so: community.
Fischer says he throws parties because it allows him to “see my friends and community come together and just have an amazing time is enough cause to do it. Seeing people dance and show off their music, fashion, art, makeup, etc. is so amazing to me. I really just love to have a good time!”
Beisner adds, “Ultimately I just wanna throw a party where everyone can have a good time, feel safe, get exposed to some new music, and simultaneously create a space where my favorite DJs can play in my city. I wanted to expand on our already amazing scene here and create a place to dance that is welcoming to everyone. To look out at the crowd during a party and seeing everyone have a good time and dancing is the reason I do it. Putting an event together is more stressful than you imagine before you do it, but the end result is always worth it. We will also be donating proceeds to different organizations as often as we can. We donated all our proceeds from our first party to Planned Parenthood of Western PA. It’s nice to be able to make this party give back to the community.”
Keep a close eye on MESH as they continue to develop and grow in Pittsburgh.
CLEVELAND – IN TRAINING is pleased to announce that we are partnering with our good friends HONCHO to bring you:
“A Leather-Encouraged Evening Together”
10p – 6a / $15 / Location TBA / Must RSVP to attend
An all-night semi-private party for friends and revelers to dance, unwind and release!
For years, Pittsburgh’s premiere LGBT dance night HONCHO has staked their reputation on the unmatched caliber of their flesh-soaked, sweat-drenched undergrounds at infamous bathhouse & dancefloor HOT MASS. We have spent a long time courting them for a playdate in Cleveland and are thrilled that they’ll be gracing (and greasing) our presence. To make this event extra-special, we will be throwing it in a space that allows us to party until the cold shame of morning!
Featuring music from 10 pm to 6 am from HONCHO & IN TRAINING DJs:
Father Of Two
In order to keep our gathering intimate and safe from prying eyes, we encourage all the attendees to email us to RSVP at:
YOU MUST INCLUDE YOUR NAME to be on the list! If you would prefer to give a name other than the one on a form of Identification, please let us know and we will accommodate your request. Attendees on the RSVP list will receive the address via reply.
Our venue is a large, modern space near the city center, easily-accessible by rideshare. There will be ample well-lit parking and venue security attuned to the needs of our attendees.
This event will cost $15, a portion of which will be donated to The Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence, a long-running national LGBTQ organization that uses drag performances to fundraise for HIV/AIDS programs.
Feel free to email or message us with any questions / comments at ITxHONCHO@gmail.com
Let us sweat together!
PITTSBURGH – Hot Mass & Cold Cuts pres. A Night With Beautiful Swimmers. The duo will play a seven hour set, all night long.
<< 21+ w/ ID // $15 // password announced day of >>
ROCHESTER – Signal > Noise celebrates their birthday with three beasts: Pittsburgh’s Aaron Clark and Shawn Rudiman and Chicago’s Sassmouth.
Perhaps no one else is as responsible for putting Pittsburgh on the map recently like AARON CLARK. If you’ve been plugged into the scene over the past several years, you’ve undoubtedly caught wind of the throbbing, sweaty techno revival happening there, at one of the events Aaron helps curate and promote with his crew Humanaut (recently celebrating their 10th-year anniversary!) and the notorious queer collective of which he’s an integral part, Honcho. What you may not know is the dancefloor weapon that Aaron Clark is when he gets behind the decks. Dynamic, subterranean beats mixed with maturity and surgical precision is what Aaron brings to whatever sound system he rocks, be it Berghain in Berlin or Rochester’s Signal>Noise.
Chicago’s Sam Kern, aka SASSMOUTH is the jet-setting queen bee of the American underground techno/house scene. Her reassuring presence and constant hard work on so many fronts has helped energize, catalyze and unify the U.S. scene. Sam’s passion for dance music and its lifestyle is unquestionable. She runs the always-on-point God Particle record label, is a resident DJ at Chicago’s Smartbar and San Francisco’s As You Like It, and with the Naughty Bad Fun Collective, is responsible for one of the most beloved events during Movement weekend in Detroit every year, Industry Brunch. Besides all this, Sam is an absolutely incredible DJ, and a simply wonderful human being whom we cherish and are thrilled to have back in Rochester, which is somehow still standing after her last appearance here in 2014
Pittsburgh’s SHAWN RUDIMAN is part-man, part-animal, and part-machine (he can also be quite the party animal, but that’s another story). Shawn annihilated the Signal>Noise dancefloor upon his last visit with the explosive 100% hardware live performance that he is renowned for worldwide. Many in-the-know techno-heads everywhere regard his as the best live techno PA on the planet, and we at Signal>Noise unanimously agree. Shawn has been a staple in the world techno community for almost two decades, playing at clubs, raves and festivals like Tresor and Movement Detroit regularly. You simply haven’t witnessed the pure, unadulterated fury of techno until you’ve witnessed Shawn Rudiman and his machines raging at full blast. on a killer sound system.
<<< DJ LINEUP >>>
[Honcho | Humanaut PGH]
[God Particle | Smartbar CHI]
[Detroit Techno Millitia | God Particle | 7th City]
<<< PARTY ESSENTIALS >>>
Saturday > January 28
45 Euclid > Rochester > NY
[10PM – 4AM]
Sweaty bodies, a wall of lights and a sound system that pulls you in and won’t let go. If you have experienced Hot Mass, you understand. Aaron Clark, co-founder of the Pittsburgh party, is in charge of co-curating resident nights Honcho and Humanaut at the after hours spot.
While growing up in Ohio, Clark wasn’t very active in the music scene. Mostly a bedroom DJ he says “I was still coming out of the closet and trying to pull away from my church. Once I turned 18 I started to hit the parties happening at Red Zone in Columbus and Moda in Cleveland.” Shortly thereafter he moved to Pittsburgh for university, unfortunately right when the city’s rave scene was in a lull.
When it comes to Clark’s background as a DJ, he says “I sort of tripped into it.” He would hear electronic tracks in the background of commercials and scour the internet to identify them, which would turn out to be “stupid stuff like Chemical Brothers. This was Napster days, so I’d download that stuff, but then realize that people made remixes of these things, which led me to more underground producers. It was kind of a rabbit hole situation,” he says. “I know a lot of people don’t believe in folks coming in from the commercial side of dance and landing in a good place musically, but it happens.” In high school he was introduced to his friend’s boyfriend, Rob, who had a full DJ setup and PA. This piqued Clark’s interest and pulled him to the performance side of electronic music which he says “really helped me start separating quality from bullshit.”
Before Hot Mass became one of the most prominent parties for today’s scene Clark spent about eight years throwing large scale events. While seeking a place to throw small after parties for their main events they stumbled upon Club Pittsburgh, a private men’s bath house located in the city’s historic Strip District. The space is relatively small, with small dark spaces for private encounters.
He reminisced about the beginning stages of their parties in the bath house. “When we first checked it out, we weren’t even sure how to use it. The space was super weird, not laid out in any sensical way for dancing, lots of hallways and cruisey rooms (as part of the bath house) but we could go late. So we took it, and had Kirk Degiorgio play a second set after his first one. It went off! I think we pulled the plug on a full dance floor that morning around 8 a.m.? Up to that point we would struggle to hold a crowd until 4 a.m. max. We were all really blown away by the crazy energy that room had, so we kept going with it.”
John McMarlin, manager of Club Pittsburgh, proposed that the after party events become a weekly which ultimately brought Hot Mass to fruition. Clark says, “That sounded insane to us, as everyone knows how impossible it is to keep a weekly party going. It’s torture. The idea was that maybe we could pull it off if we had four separate crews as part of the larger collective, and we all took a different week so we didn’t burn out.”
Hot Mass as a whole is comprised by four parts: Honcho, Humanaut, Detour and Cold Cuts. Each Saturday of the month is accounted for. Honcho is held the first Saturday followed by Humanaut on the second. The city’s record label collective Detour showcases the third Saturday and new to the roster is Cold Cuts, an event which curates an affinity for disco and hoagies on week four. I inquired how each of these facets play a significant role not only within their space but also to the scene at large. “This is a tough one to answer. I think all four crews touch different sounds of dance. Humanaut heads straight to techno, Honcho loops in the gays and does all genres, Detour is heavy on live sets as they’re so production-minded due to their label, and Cold Cuts is just a great fucking time. It’s positivity music,” Clark says. “You kinda touch all corners, and funnel everyone into one club together, making it easier for people to figure out what they like and dig deeper. Ideally, we are always giving up-and-comers a shot on the decks as well. It’s something I personally want to push further in 2017.”
The four crews work together to maintain the integrity of the space and progress the continuity of energy and quality talent.
“We’d all vote on the larger rules of the club, keep the door cover consistent, and operate under a unified brand – Hot Mass,” he continues. “We wanted the general public in Pittsburgh to think ‘it’s always a good time there’ and not get hung up on who was promoting the party. Amazingly enough, it worked. And over the past four years we’ve just tried to improve the place one piece at a time as we got the money, knocking out walls, moving the dance floor, new sound.”
But what exactly is it that makes this Pennsylvania party so special? The size of the space is small bringing an inherent intimacy to any party. Sexuality here is open and free and there is an undeniable consistent energy when you make it until 7 a.m. and those lights turn on. “It still feels crazy that we have this beautiful thing. I think being attached to the bath house (Club Pittsburgh) is incredibly important. Right out of the gate, it’s a gay space. That helps with crowd quality immensely and is really an inseparable part of it all. Once you have that base layer, you add the layers of good friends, techno heads, and out-of-towners coming through each week,” he says.
Honcho was established in 2012 while Humanaut was founded in 2005 and run by the collective efforts of Clark, Paul Fleetwood, Paul “Relative Q” Zyla, Benjamin Kessler and Tony Fairchild. Through both Honcho and Humanaut the floor of Hot Mass has seen talent from the likes of Bill Converse, Derek Plaslaiko, Shawn Rudiman, The Black Madonna, Claude Young, Ectomorph, Bicep, DJ Minx, Sassmouth, and so many more. Last summer Clark assisted hosting a Honcho Summer Campout in the West Virginia woods and sometimes you can catch a set by Honcho, which is comprised (give or take) by Clark, George d’Adhemar, and Clark Price.
“[Hot Mass] is one of the only places in town where different peoples bubbles crash into each other. Pittsburgh is not known for being a diverse place, which can feel suffocating at times. Hot Mass is a bit of an antidote to that.” – AARON CLARK
The dance floor at Hot Mass is one of which that allows freedom, tests your limits, breaks borders and pushes boundaries. There is no pretension, and with Club Pittsburgh’s environment these parties bring everyone together by serving to both the gay and straight community. Clark believes that these attributes of a party are “important because these moments don’t happen enough. As we’ve all seen, everyone is content to live in their own personal bubble these days. Gay people need to party with straight people, and vice versa.” He explains that this outcome won’t happen at a typical gay club which serves mostly as a place to get drunk. “I think the important part here is that there’s something for everyone to bond over other than a bar – the music.”
When he’s not bringing in talent or throwing down sets himself, Clark can be found working as a Cultural Engineer at the Ace Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. Through this position he wears many hats working with community relationships, marketing, event programming and social media. “I was attracted to it because I had respected the Ace brand for years, and I wanted to force myself outside of my comfort zone of just throwing techno parties.” Through this avenue they are collaborating with The Andy Warhol Museum, hosting independent markets and panel discussions, as well as pop-up dinners. Although a small component of what he does at Ace, Clark incorporates small music events at the hotel, with an occasional Hot Mass day party outside.
No matter what Clark does, both day and night, his love and drive for music will run deep and with passion. “Music is one of the only things that can overtake my emotions completely. I remember one time at a Bunker show in NYC, Magic Mountain High was playing live. My partner and I had just gotten to the club, completely sober. We’re standing on the dance floor and we just started crying. The music was so beautiful, it was involuntary. That’s really cool. There’s a lot of beautiful stuff in the world, but music consistently does crazy things like this, over and over again.”
Catch Aaron Clark make his Western New York debut on Saturday for the two year anniversary party of Rochester’s Signal > Noise.
The year was 1989 in post-industrial Northeastern Pennsylvania when Shawn Rudiman and Ed Vargo created Total Harmonic Distortion, Rudiman’s first introduction to making electronic music. The two artists became self-taught creating a band that became a solid influence in the world of Electronic Body Music, a varied Belgium-born genre that takes influences from electro, punk and post-industrial.
Currently based in Pittsburgh, Penn., Rudiman is fervently creating and exploring the techno world. Why techno?
“Music is the best escape, therapist, and consoler I’ve ever known. Techno is forever the future, alternate reality and unwritten parallel universe that will always have a hold on me. It’s home.” – SHAWN RUDIMAN
During the 1990s he developed an affinity for vintage hardware and is now known for his solo work performing live analog sets. His rig consists of: Roland TR-8, Access Virus A, Alesis MMT-8, Korg Electribe Sampler 2, Arturia MicroBrute, Future Retro 777, Future Retro SWYNX, FMR RNC Compressor, and the Boss DD-7. This hearty collection of gear allows him to take things anywhere stylistically, he says. When he is not performing with them, Rudiman is maintaining, fixing and modifying vintage synthesizers.
“Analog is as valid as any other form of synthesis really. To me … it’s just where I fell into. I’m no purist. I’m more a road warrior or rogue samurai looking for the most comfortable sword or weapon. I can’t expose one form of synthesis over any other, since they all have purpose and times to shine,” he says.
This free-flowing way of performing for Rudiman means breaking through structure and playing off-the-cuff, allowing emotional adaption during a live set.
“I started out 17 years ago now, playing sets that were very formatted, and rehearsed. It’s crushing to me. And massively limiting. I can’t play a set more than once. It’s boring. I don’t want to be bored. I never want to have to play that way with techno. To me, techno is always on the edge of failure — that thin razor edge. That’s what gives it feeling, not perfectly rehearsed or choreographed. It’s raw, wild, and possibly a car wreck. But also enthralling, gripping and demanding your attention. It’s responsive and operates on the crowd’s output, as well as my own feelings.”
He now has releases on 11th Hour Recordings, Bleepsequence, Cache Records, Detroit Techno Militia, Integrated Recordings, and Minimalsoul Recordings. Additionally, he established the store and label HyperVinyl Records with Trevor Combee, leading to a friendship with the notable Detroit techno musician Anthony “Shake” Shakir.
Along with Jwan Allen and Adam Ratana, Rudiman runs Technoir Audio out of Pittsburgh, Penn. He has toured internationally playing in places like Detroit, New York City, Berlin (like the Berghain and Tresor) and other areas of Europe; his most recent performance was held earlier this month at the Great American Techno Festival in Denver, Colo.
“Honestly some of my favorites aren’t the big or famous clubs. This past year playing Movement at the festival itself was one though. It was a life goal for me. Another was a gig in Glasgow, Scotland about 10 years ago. Just great people and crazy, wild times. Those are the ones that you cant put a value on, for me,” he says.
Rudiman will be performing alongside Sam Kern, aka Sassmouth, this Saturday, Oct. 17 in Rochester, N.Y. for the next Signal > Noise installation. Not only are the two friends but they have worked together professionally with a recent release by Rudiman under Kern’s label, god particle.
“Sam’s one of my favourite humans. It was complete chance we met really. I can’t say enough good things about her. She’s family. She’s easy to work with, to me, and we see fairly eye to eye. She picked those songs from a pile I sent her; she chose wisely. Working live with her on the decks and me on my crap is easy — she can feel flow and knows how to make it happen. She reads the crowd. So we work well as a duo going back and forth. We are on the same page so it makes it easy,” he says.