By: Juan R Govea
Flipping through records of various artists past and present, 41-year-old veteran DJ Jason Guereca, peruses through vinyl at Lola’s Saloon’s record rummage in Fort Worth, TX. Forgotten talent mixed with music everyone should own, Guereca eyes the keepers and shelves back already owned albums. While searching, Guereca finds a white label bootleg of Blur’s “Song 2,” which he helped fund and produce.
The self-retired DJ along with a generation of DJ’s and fans of old school dance music share experiences and memories of the hazy limelight of downtown Fort Worth.
Once owner and operator of R-Type records and resident DJ at late club venues in Fort Worth during the mid 2000’s such as: 8.0’s, Saffire Lounge, Duce and Vivid. Guereca, along with many club kids, ravers and some of Fort Worth’s best talent are credited for catalyzing the now popular Electric Dance Music (EDM) movement that has grown to popularity. A genre, which artists’ roots such as Calvin Harris helped rise to stardom, during the mid ’90s to mid 2000’s.
Fellow veteran DJ’s of past and present, friends and co-workers of the now vacant R-Type Records: Mark Joslyn, Mike Bentley, Bryan Coonrod, Eric Scholwinski and Nicole Bridges a resident DJ from Fort Worth who Guereca says was a good defender of the store from competing vinyl sellers from Dallas. R-Type patrons along with several other wave breakers in Fort Worth were all part of a musical movement that struck the nightlife of Fort Worth, Arlington and Dallas. Sharing gig spots and taking to ear the next big vinyl record everyone wanted to own, R-type had become the hub for local DJ’s and dance music promoters in Fort Worth.
A well-known figure during the club scene and fellow R-Type patron, Mark Joslyn, began working at a few major nightclubs and updated club kids on new music coming out at Oak Lawn records in Dallas; his second job at the time and the premier dance music store in the country for 5-to-6 years.
At 6 years old Joslyn started collecting 45’s. With the help of his family and father growing up in a town near Detroit, Joslyn grew up with a musical funk and synth inspiration. A sound that he says generated and influenced the dance music and rave scene to today’s EDM. “Every type of music evolves from something else and the styles go into different directions,” Joslyn says.
As the scene progressed, Joslyn states that producers in California that had an Aqua Boogie sound and label started to spring up in local venues bringing artists like DJ Icey to the area whom still visits the local nightlife.
Mike Bentley, former co-worker, shared the stage with his fellow mates and nightlife providers from R-Type. Bentley started his musical career in 1999, becoming part of a local production company that promoted the rave scene at Austin Music Hall and several of Fort Worth’s best underground dance music events.
Bentley shared the DJ booth at local spots like Ridglea Theater on Camp Bowie and Bryant Irvine. While several of his gigs were local, Bentley played musical events in Europe and South American and credits several artists and R-Type friends to the production of the dance music culture. Artists and producers such as Disco agents, Chinese Records and Granite & Funk were probably Fort Worth’s major players along with Groove-e Company. Combined, Fort Worth DJ’s innovated the popular culture and became global artists like Rob Vaughn and Burufunk; DJ’s who still play Dallas’ venues today, Bentley says.
As the scene grew, events like The Post Office party off I-35, which according to Bentley was one of the best rave parties ever thrown in Fort Worth, which helped provide a nightlife to Fort Worth’s streets that has not been seen since.
Several artists like Guereca and Bentley agree funk and a bit of Hip-Hop helped blossom the dance music scene. Hip-Hop being a big game changer in Fort Worth clubs early on, and many DJ’s catered to the audience, but Guereca states there were many tracks of House dance music that was overlooked in the downtown nightclubs. Club owners didn’t seem to care for Guereca’s taste in the genre, which he tried to introduce to listeners before the sound became popular, Guereca says.
As the audience of dance music grew, nightclubs began taking recognition in what dance music DJ’s were playing. Events like the Post Office Party and major musical events began to sprout up, the Electric Daisy Carnival/Festival and Dallas’ Meltdown, to name a few.
Taking its place as a genre of House, Breakbeats, Trans, Scratch and Drum and Base. Local artists always kept a lookout for the next big sound. Guereca and Bentley state there was always the challenge of finding the best vinyl record that would turn heads to the dance floor. Guereca says that there were several instances where he would look over the shoulder of Rob Vaughn and other big name DJs, while taking note of the vinyl track that sparked life to the dance floor, trainspotting.
As of now there are not many venues in Fort Worth that support or recognize the old school dance music genres. DJ’s affiliated with dance music have moved to Dallas where the scene is still noticed. While Guereca and the old school dance music DJ’s of Fort Worth’s nightlife have lied dormant the DJ’s still play special events.
“With social media, it makes it harder to see who’s legit.” Bentley says, “Back then there was a ground game of people handing out fliers for the next club and rave events; it was a very vibe and diverse scene not only in fort worth but in Mexico, Europe and Colombia.”
Bentley and Joslyn agree that with the rise of social media and the amount of music available with a Google search are the reasons why the EDM sound has become so popular, while keeping professional vinyl DJ’s of the dance music genres (House, Breakbeat, etc.) overlooked by club owners.
Bryan Coonrod aka DJ Bryan C a resident DJ at Gas Monkey Live and Bar and Grill, played at Fort Worth Venues such as Vivid and Red Goose Saloon on Houston St. during his early years as a dance music DJ. Coonrod states that while the dance music scene seems to have become obsolete in Fort Worth there are venues such as Lola’s Saloon that cater his record rummage sale. Coonrod and those who provide old and new genres of music at the Saloon are an outlet to listeners whom may have never heard or know of the dance music scene and are more familiar with the current EDM.
“The old saying is, people from Dallas would never go to Fort Worth and the people in Fort Worth would rather go to Dallas,” Coonrod says. “As for today it still seems being a DJ in Fort Worth is a foreign thing when trying to get a bar or club to let you spin.”