In a really weird and unfortunate note of irony, one of Pittsburgh’s best and longest-running dance parties happens to be named Pandemic.
Pandemic, which went spelunking deep into worldwide underground musical subcultures like Balkan brass, Colombian cumbia, Nigerian Afrobeat and Indian bhangra, hasn’t come back yet since the actual pandemic. (The dance party’s creator has switched gears to program the outdoor music series, Music on the Mon at the SouthSide Works.)
But if videos on TikTok are any indication, the pandemic hasn’t dented humans’ innate desire to dance.
However, the blissful, lost-in-the-music feeling of being at one with the crowd, all locked into the same groove, is taking a long time to return. That’s in part because nobody knows yet what shape the pandemic will take next. In fact, you should probably be extra careful when you go out.
Still, clubs are opening and many events are moving outdoors.
Organizers ask that you be vaccinated and encourage wearing a mask. Check with their websites and social media to find the latest recommendations.
If you feel the need to move your feet, here are some places ready for you:
In Bed By Ten
The idea was so ridiculously simple, yet brilliant. Many music fans have kids, or day jobs, and simply can’t party until dawn anymore. Why not put on a dance party for them (and make it good enough that others will be interested)? Matthew Buchholz found five different outdoor locations this summer, starting from 6 to 9 p.m on Friday, July 30, with In Bed By Ten ‘80s Night at the Allegheny Overlook — a new pop-up park Downtown on Fort Duquesne Boulevard — with DJ EZ Lou. It’s free, but $5 wristbands let you buy beer and wine from Brew Gentlemen. Proceeds benefit 412 Food Rescue.
The following Friday (Aug. 6), In Bed By Ten travels to Trace Brewing in Bloomfield with DJs MB and Formosa of Jellyfish, for a dance party benefiting True T PGH. On Aug. 13 the party moves to Two Frays Brewing in Garfield. The on Aug. 20, In Bed By Ten teams up with the Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer at Spring Hill Brewing. The last dance party will be held on Sept. 1 at SouthSide Works, before the 9 p.m. screening of “Flashdance.” Can it get more inspiring?
(Update: In Bed By Ten are postponing their currently scheduled events due to health concerns.)
Inside Out at Carnegie Museum of Art
Instead of a tent somewhere, why not dance outdoors in the inspiring environs of Carnegie Museum of Art’s beautiful (if minimalist) sculpture courtyard? On Thursday, July 29, it’s Hot Mass + Friends, Pittsburgh’s internationally-renowned, after-hours LGBTQ dance party. On Saturday, July 31, the site will host the genre-free, world-spanning jazz/funk of the Afro Yaqui Music Collective and DJ Femi. Aug. 7 is Texture Contemporary Ballet and DJ QRX. All events are free for all ages, and feature art-making activities, food trucks, and food and drink from the acclaimed Café Carnegie.
Title Town Soul & Funk Party
One of Pittsburgh’s most beloved dance nights, Title Town, puts the city where it belongs — at the top of the standings. The hand-picked vinyl 45s range from the rarest of the rare to stuff your mom grooved to in the ‘70s. Title Town relishes exploring regional scenes from different eras. The first Covid-era Title Town was at Spirit in July, and they’ll be back to spin wax at the Lawrenceville spot on August 7.
The queer dance party with borderless ambitions, Jellyfish blends Italo disco, new wave, house, synth-pop and the dance-y end of post-punk. Jellyfish specializes in curating a mesmerizing visual component with each DJ set by Ricky Moslen, Stephanie Tsong and Adam Shuck. Their next event is at P-Town Bar’s outdoor courtyard on Aug. 14, starting at 9 p.m.
Cobra was just starting to get some momentum as the new spot for dancing to adventurous music before the pandemic. Now, it’s starting to come back with nights like 50/50 on Aug. 7, featuring Norm Talley, one of the creators of Detroit’s deep house revolution (since 1982!) and Pittsburgh’s Edgar Um.
This DJ collective helped put Pittsburgh nightlife on the international map. Aaron Clark, Naeem, boo lean and a few others created something rare and distinctive and absolutely open to experimentation of all kinds — helping drag Pittsburgh’s dance into the future. Not yet back to its Strip District home, Hot Mass is popping up at Inside Out at the Carnegie Museum of Art and has been producing virtual events (sometimes called Not Mass) and online streams throughout the pandemic. On Aug. 6, catch Hot Mass outdoors at SouthSide Works.
Hey, indie rockers and music nerds like to dance, too. Another regular visitor to Spirit, TASTE offers platters of everything from Radiohead to MGMT, Sonic Youth to Grimes, M83 to Robyn, LCD Soundsystem to Janelle Monae. Yes, it’s like a deep dive into the record collection of someone with, well, good taste. The next TASTE is Aug. 20 at Spirit.