Q & A with local music aficionados Adam Scoppa, Ann Glaviano, and Chris Johnson, of Heatwave: Columbus.
[Full Interview: ]
Q & A with local music aficionados Adam Scoppa, Ann Glaviano, and Chris Johnson, of Heatwave: Columbus
What made you want to put Heatwave together?
ADAM: The three of us got together in a very serendipitous way. I always have had a soft spot for oldies, Motown, and garage rock and started collecting this music on vinyl. I used to spin records between bands at Skully's and noticed that when I put on Martha and the Vandellas or the Animals, for example, people started dancing almost inadvertently. It's always great to hear that music through a loud PA and I thought people would want a dance party geared towards that. I suggested the idea to friends for a long time and everyone said they would be interested in going to something like that. I just needed an extra kick in the ass to get it together, and then I randomly met Ann, who had a grand scheme of her own.
ANN: Back home in New Orleans I've got a couple friends who have been DJing an event called "Mod Dance Party" once a month for the past 11 years. It is a total sweatbath and a great time. When I moved here in September 2010 I thought surely there would be a dance party like this already going in Columbus. But though there were similar events, there was nothing that scratched my particular itch to dance to the late-50s-to-early-70s tunes that my friends played at MDP. On a Friday night in June 2011 I came back from a visit to NOLA - I was extremely homesick - and I sort of shook my fist at the sky and said, "I'll start my own dance party." But I didn't have much vinyl, and I didn't have gear, and I had absolutely no experience DJing. I texted my friend Chris Johnson, who I knew was into early punk and garage rock and was a vinyl freak - collected first pressings and such - and I told him I had a proposition for him. We met the next night at a show and I told him my idea and he said he was in. The following night I went to Bodega for TeamTim trivia for the first time. I was meeting a friend, but she was running late; there was only one empty barstool, and the dude I sat next to was like, we can be a team if you want. This was Adam Scoppa. We're chatting, and I asked him what he did, and he said he was a drummer for this Motown-inspired band (Burglar). And I'm like, what a coincidence! I'm starting a Motown dance party! And he more or less grabbed me by the shoulders and said, "You're really freaking me out right now. It's been my dream for two years to start a dance party like that." And I said, "Do you have vinyl?" And he said yes. And I said, "Do you want in?" And he said yes. And he said, "Can we call it Heatwave?" And I said sure. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and the great triumvirate was formed. (Also, we won trivia that night. It was a good night.)
CHRIS: I guess it’s because we had a superglue fight once and got stuck together. No, seriously, I think it’s funny that I’m even doing Heatwave. I mean, I have records, I think seven total, but I never envisioned carting them out to play at a dance party. I know now people like the stuff we play, but honestly before this I always thought that I was living in a weird time warp of the 1960s, drooling over a Hollies record, or looking for rare pressings of Stones albums, or banging my drums to the songs on the Nuggets box sets, which I was sure nobody else cared about.
Were you looking to start the next great dance party in Columbus, or were you just trying to spin classic vinyl?
ADAM: I was originally thinking it would be a niche thing and we were planning to have it at a much smaller bar. We aimed to blast the tunes we wanted to hear and hoped we could attract a few regulars whenever we threw the party. Eventually it would build into something, I thought, but it would take some time.
ANN: The boys didn't really know what to expect, I guess, but this dance party in New Orleans [‘Mod Dance Party’ – see full interview] is absolutely packed every month, so that was what I was aiming for. I figured it would take a while to build up, though, and I knew in terms of the venue I wanted something that wasn't too big. We were originally looking at much smaller venues than Ace of Cups, mainly because we didn't think we would be able to fill a bigger space, and who wants to dance in the middle of an empty room? Dancing should be cozy. We made a massive list of the stuff we wanted to play - basically "If We Don't Have This Song At Our Dance Party, We Will Be Sad" - so to that extent we're motivated by playing the songs we love. But the final verdict on what we play is based on whether or not it makes us want to dance.
CHRIS: I really just wanted to play my John Denver greatest hits record and hit on all the girls who are into The Fleet Foxes. Adam and Ann instead persuaded me to play the other things I had. I think it’s real keen, spiffy, and neat that it worked out that way. I mean, people seem to still think I’m cool… right?
Ace of Cups was getting to capacity after the second Heatwave, did you expect this kind of immediate success?
ADAM: When plans with the other bar fell through, the newly opened Ace of Cups took a chance on hosting it. I had in no way expected that kind of turnout, and when the January party was at capacity it still blew my mind. I wanted it to feel like it’s someone’s birthday party, or maybe a particularly awesome wedding reception, with smiles across the board. I think that’s what we’ve achieved and I’m glad.
ANN: I will say that for the first dance party, we had a decent-sized crowd and eventually they all started dancing, and the boys were like, "This exceeded our wildest expectations." And I said, "This actually was my expectation - like, best-case scenario." But capacity on the second night - that exceeded my wildest expectations. A line out the door? That is crazy. I've started overhearing people I don't know talking about it, which is also crazy. I have a theory that this kind of dance party works because even people who feel awkward about dancing - the people who, when feeling obligated to dance, do the Twist ironically - even those people can feel confident dancing at Heatwave. I mean, you're supposed to do the Twist. We're playing songs that exhort you to do the Twist. So it makes sense that people come out and dance. But the number of people who are so enthusiastic about it - that's definitely been overwhelming and gratifying.
CHRIS: Honestly, yes and no. I didn’t expect to have immediate success, but I knew with the music that we were preparing to play it was a definite possibility. I remember going to Ace of Cups prior to the first Heatwave to scope it out and I asked Aleks, “What IS capacity, ya know, just in case?” He said, “Um, yeah, don’t worry about that. It won’t happen.”
Do you have any favorite memorable moments from any of the past Heatwaves?
ADAM: The one that sticks out for me is when I played an "encore" song at the second party. People were chanting for more and as I put on the record, everyone erupted in applause simply for the hiss of static at the beginning. I thought that was really cool.
ANN: The second Heatwave, we were closing out the set, and I decided on "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone" and Adam decided on "Nobody But Me" - and we were both so pleased that we actually shook hands. So we play the songs, and the crowd's happy and dancing, and as "Nobody But Me" is spinning, Adam tells me to look over at the bar - and the bartenders are going wild. Like, hands in the air, dancing their asses off. And we start cracking up. Like, even the bartenders are dancing hard? Awesome.
CHRIS: Hearing and spinning “I’ve Got Levitation” by the 13th Floor Elevators during the last Heatwave. It’s probably one of my favorite songs, ever.
Anything else you want to say to the people?
ADAM: I just want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who turns out - and waits outside in the cold – to shares my favorite songs with me. Our party is your party.
ANN: I thought Columbus was a pretty cool town before Heatwave started. But considering that I am perpetually homesick for New Orleans, I am so grateful for the opportunity to play this music that I love - much of which is New Orleans R&B - and to see a roomful of people dancing to it really makes Columbus feel more like home. I'm especially grateful for my friends in the English graduate department at OSU, who've been showing up to Heatwave since the first night. They're amazingly generous and supportive. Plus they let me teach them the Madison. That's not just supportive - that's downright indulgent.
CHRIS: When you don’t come to Heatwave, an angel loses its wings.
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Adam Scoppa, Ann Glaviano, and Chris Johnson
Ace of Cups
For more info check out: https://www.facebook.com/heatwavecolumbus