When the sound of EDM bulldozed its way across America at the dawn of this strange decade, older heads worried that the youth were waving their glow sticks to something loud, bogus and ahistorical. But maybe that story has a happy ending. Plenty of 20-somethings who grew up dancing to the unrelenting bwomp-bwomp of EDM now appear to be searching for their roots — at least, according to Nick Garcia, 27, and Ken Lazee, 43, the duo behind Werk Ethic, a quarterly dance night dedicated to the classic house and techno sounds of the ’80s and ’90s.
“That genuine interest from the younger crowd? It’s really cool to see,” Lazee says. “I feel like our audience is hearing a lot of this music for the first time . . . or maybe the 50th time.”
That’s because Werk Ethic also draws clubland veterans who shook their tail feathers to these tunes the first time around, which means you can see dance music’s generation gap being bridged out on the dance floor in real time. Something similar might be happening up in the DJ booth, too.
“Ken lived through that era, and he has all of these experiences with these records,” Garcia says. “But I was in diapers, so everything I know about this music is from spending too much time on YouTube and Discogs.”
Of course, for any committed DJ, there’s no such thing as “too much time” spent digging for records. With two decades of vinyl to get lost in, Garcia says he and Lazee observe only one rule: “We don’t play anything past December 31, ’99.”
Dance night: Wednesday at 10 p.m. at U Street Music Hall. Free before midnight; $5 after.