It’s arguably Brown’s most notorious party, an event so renowned that students will wait into the late hours of a Sunday evening weeks beforehand merely to experience it for themselves. Commonly touted by the Queer Alliance as a safe space, it has nonetheless attracted criticism from outside media and Brown students alike. But, in the end, what would SPG be without the music?
“At other parties, people are always requesting songs,” notes Ben Shack Sackler ’16, “but at SPG, people are there for the experience, and you try to give them that experience.” Known also by his DJ moniker Ethos Nebula, Sackler was one of three DJs who performed over the course of the evening, along with Nikos Melachrinos ’15 and Prescott Smith ’16. In total, the three performed for over three hours, providing tunes for the entire duration of the party. So what kind of music, exactly, was featured at this year’s SPG?
The answer varied between DJs, but all three noted that trap–a relatively new dance music genre with roots in hip-hop–was a common staple. “Mostly I played trap and electro house,” said Smith, while Melachrinos estimated that trap comprised something close to fifty percent of his set. “Everyone goes crazy when you throw in a trap drop every once in a while,” agreed Sackler. The performers also experimented with the reliably danceable sound of house music, playing a number of the genre’s subcategories: progressive house, deep house, tech house, and even disco house.
The staying power of SPG–the consistency with which it immediately sells out every year and the inevitable excitement surrounding the event itself –would suggest that audience members usually enjoy themselves. But what kind of an experience is it for the DJs? “I did it freshman year,” Melachrinos remembered. “It was the first time I’d ever DJed for an audience of 600 people, and controlling a crowd in that way is a unique experience, something every DJ should have a chance to have.” All three DJs pointed to the audience size (event organizers permitted only 400 partygoers this year) the large interior of the room, and the high-quality sound system as assets. But they also acknowledged that arguably more important than the party’s technical details tends to be the attitude with which attendees approach SPG. “It’s a lot of people who show up with every intention of having a good time and dancing their asses off… the more they have a good time, the more they’re into your DJing. It’s like a cycle,” says Smith.
All three agreed that, while performing at SPG is very much a unique experience, it also possesses several similarities with DJing standard university parties. With the unusual size of SPG, of course, comes sacrifice. “Sometimes when you’re playing to a larger crowd you have to compromise to what they want,” concedes Melachrinos. “It’s not the equivalent of a 2 a.m. set in a basement.” On the whole, however, the consensus among the DJs seemed to be that Brown students, whether within SPG or otherwise, are open-minded about dance music. As Sackler puts it: “Whenever I go to play a set or perform, I’m generally given a lot of artistic freedom.”
Check out some sets from the DJs below: