The Rub Turns 10: Memories From A Decade-Long Party
The Brooklyn collective of DJ Ayres, DJ Eleven, and Cosmo Baker celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their now-legendary rap party The Rub this weekend. While their monthly rager moved from the now-shuttered Park Slope club Southpaw to Gowanus' much larger Bell House, the party remains a house-party-away-from-home for many New Yorkers, with the three DJs and their guests serving up hip-hop classics old and new alongside dancehall, R&B, funk, and stints of disco/house in an environment that encourages dancing over everything else.
Ian Meyer The Rub.
The Rub has always been something much larger than just another dance party, and my first time there, back in its Southpaw days, is something I'll always remember (I've gotten emotional about it once before). At the risk of sounding clichéd, the night left me with the distinct feeling that this party was representative of the growing underground and DJ community, which was a more inclusive, more interesting, more demographically diverse group than I had ever seen before. Not only were Ayres, Eleven, and Cosmo some of the best DJs Brooklyn had to offer, they trusted the talents of their friends and the open-mindedness of their audience enough to build a relationship based on mutual love and friendship as much as it was on pure entertainment.
In honor of the Rub being around for a decade (the party in its honor is tomorrow night at The Bell House), SOTC asked some of its friends to share their memories.
Nick Catchdubs, Fool's Gold
The Rub is one of my all-time favorite parties to play as a guest and to attend as a regular, dancing-ass civilian. As DJs, The Rub braintrust are among the most knowledgeable and crafty selectors I know. But with great power comes great responsibility. The reason the party has been so fun for so long is because The Rub DJs have always put their crowd firstthey can flex obscure records and wicky-wickys with the best of them, but on that one Saturday every month the only mission is to rock the party by any means necessary. They still change with the times and constantly find ways to surprise and evolve musically, but always remember to drop the bass out so the crowd can yell "biiiitch" in call-and-response with Too $hort. That's why The Rub will still be jamming when it's time to write another one of these in ten more years, and I'll still be spilling my drink when Juvenile comes on.
Pete Emes, Smalltown DJs
I'm a Canadian from Canada, so I'm not sure I'm qualified to comment on The Rub because as an outsider it feels like such a Brooklyn institutionlike it belongs to the city. When we first came to play at Southpaw in 2006, we had been told that dance parties in New York were no fun, and this was exactly the opposite. It actually reminded me of home immediately, which is so weird. The people were a bit rougher than your average overly polite Canadians, and the punk-rock spirit of this rap party stood out. Cosmo Baker, Ayres & Eleven are three guys who I would consider some of my best friends, even though I only see them a few times a year. We've toured together several times and done a ton of ridiculous shit over the years. They are phenomenal dudes and great DJs, and I don't want to state the obvious, but there's nothing like being there when they are DJing a night at The Rub.
Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, Writer (SPIN, Billboard, Village Voice)
Cosmo, Ayres, and Eleven soundtracked more strange make-outs than most of their participants probably remember. In '05 and '06, when this weird little internet community was just beginning to congeal (thanks to blogs and the Hollerboard), it felt like you knew every single person at The Rub, or at least knew someone who knew them. By the end of the summer, you'd have Frenched them. Beery singalongs to those years' jamsTI's "Whatchu Know," Three 6 Mafia's "Stay Fly," Smitty's "Diamonds on My Neck"not the most romantic mood on paper, but somehow The Rub DJs were like hairy Dr. Ruths. They knew that somehow, a song that made the whole room scream would inevitably lead to young, drunk puppy love. How did they know it? We were so innocent. The Rub's stayed so vital over ten years because they DJ like you're family, and you are. I met some of my best, lifelong friends because of these dudes (shout out Will Creeley!) and I'm happy to call them the same. If I made out with you in 2005, love you babe don't ever change.
Dave Nada, Nadastrom
I remember the first time I got the invitation to play The Rub. I was so honored and insanely excited to play. It was in 2007, around the same time I released my first ever Baltimore Club EP on T&A Records [a record label run by DJ Ayres and Tittsworth]. My sets were 99% Baltimore Club and booty house and, as I recall, the main room of The Rub was all hip-hop then. I was super nervous and my hands were shaking; I knew I had to come correct, since I was trying something different. Sure enough, the place went nuts when I started and I fed off the energy of the crowd. I had one of the best nights of my life. I think I even headbanged into one of the turntables during my set because I was losing my mind! Haha. Playing The Rub continues to be a career highlight for me and it's been an honor to have Ayres, Cosmo, and Eleven in my life as friends!