Psychedelic beams of light penetrate a fog-filled room and scatter off of a mirror ball down onto the dance floor. The crowd of gyrating bodies instinctively twists to the electronic pulse of the speakers as the turntables spin in their hypnotic trance. “A lot of it comes down to beat matching and keeping them together, “ explains DJ Rob Monroy with a satisfied grin. “If the beats are falling apart the people will get distracted.” Monroy knows what he’s talking about. Performing since 1994, he’s one of the longest spinning DJs in Santa Cruz with a plethora of dance parties under his belt—including Raindance events with his friend DJ Lil John. Monroy was also the resident DJ for Back to Basics night at the Blue Lagoon, which had a respectable seven-year run in Santa Cruz. But despite his love for electronic music, his origins as a DJ began in an unlikely place. “I’m a Dead Head,” he says. “Grateful Dead shows were the first place I felt comfortable dancing ecstatically.” As the years went on and drugs began to crumble the positive community aspects of Dead shows, Monroy began finding ambiguous fliers for “DJ gatherings” at undisclosed locations. “It was all very mysterious at first,” he recalls of those early raves. “I would walk up to the DJ and see him pressing buttons. I couldn’t figure it out until I tried it myself.” Now a turntable veteran, his newest project is Labor of Love, a weekly Tuesday night party thrown at the Blue Lagoon with DJs Consciousness and Seek. “We are three friends who are able to spin records that we like,” states Monroy. “The name says it all, it’s a labor of love.” Their blend of ancestral beats for the computer age span the history of electronic music, mixing several genres while still falling under the House umbrella. Approaching its one year anniversary, Labor of Love has been a refuge for dancers trying to find something other than dubstep or Top 40 hip-hop. “There’s not a lot of clubs in Santa Cruz to choose from that play electronic dance music,” states Monroy as he cracks another infamous smile. “But lately I see that changing for the better.”
INFO: 10 p.m.–1:30 a.m. Tuesdays. Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz. 423-7117.