The long-running dance party ends Sept. 7
It's the end of an era. On Thursday, Sept. 7, Skully's Music-Diner will host the last “Ladies 80s” dance party, which has arguably been a Columbus institution since its debut in November 2001. DJ Chuck Fay spun the old classics for the first thirteen years of the event, but almost quit on his first night when venue owner Earl “Skully” Webb left early and forgot to pay him.
“I was somewhat of a temperamental kind of guy back then and threw somewhat of a hissy fit and started yelling at the bartender,” Fay said during a late-August interview at the Short North venue. “I said I was never coming back [but] clearly we made up. … We just kind of found our groove and it just took off. It was ridiculous. For a good eight or nine years you couldn't move in here on a Thursday night.”
But the crowd got thinner — “We were getting 800, 900 people every single Thursday [and] dropping to 500 people and 400 people,” Webb said — younger and nostalgic for a later decade. That's why Skully's will launch a new dance party, “Nuthin' but 90s,” on Sept. 14 with Fay again at the helm.
Of course, “Ladies 80s” has been in transition for a while now (currently billed as “Ladies 80s & More”), incorporating about 50 percent '90s classics. At first, Fay would have to alternate '80s and '90s acts every other song to get the older crowd acclimated. “We never gave them a chance to come up and complain because they'd have to run back downstairs because they heard an '80s song,” Webb said.
But once the new event debuts, Fay will likely hear criticism about his playlist, which he contended with back in the early days. Though he played a lot of alternative bands — the Cure, Depeche Mode, New Order, Nitzer Ebb — some complained he veered too far from his old sets at campus bar Mean Mr. Mustard's, while others yearned for more Top 40 hits.
“Two bands that were requested quite frequently over the years but we never played were Bon Jovi and Journey,” Fay said. “We didn't ever go down the road of introducing pop-rock or even hard rock.”
But he did expand the rotation to include the most requested song: Madonna's “Like a Prayer.”
“I don't envision exploring a lot of the deeper alternative stuff on [‘Nuthin but 90s'],” Fay said. He did mention he'd try out artists like Ace of Base, Haddaway, Naughty By Nature, Digital Underground, Blur and Oasis. “There'll [also] probably be some potential for some of that early '90s grunge like Nirvana,” he added.
There will also be potential for new, outrageous regulars.
“There was this one guy, he drove this car that had stuff glued all over it and he would come in [wearing] a pink tutu and a purple polka dot top one week and spike his hair,” Fay said. “There's always been characters that came in and were part of the show, whether they realized it or not.”