Party promoters Chris Cloud and Matthew Jacobs hit the 1990s sweet spot in dance nights aimed at millennials.
Thirty years after Prince urged us to party like it was 1999, Matthew Jacobs and Chris Cloud are doing the same. But where the Purple One’s 1982 hit was a prescient party anthem, Jacobs and Cloud are looking backward.
In 2011, the thirtysomethings launched Forever Young — a monthly dance night at the James Ballentine VFW Post in Uptown, aimed at evoking ’90s high school house parties.
“You are unbridled when you’re that age,” said Jacobs, nestled in a VFW corner booth. “I’m 33 years old. I don’t go to parties and act like I was when I was [younger].”
“But people do at Forever Young,” his dreadlocked partner interjected.
Their throwback bashes have become favorites for dancing-deprived Uptowners, despite (or perhaps because of) their unlikely digs. The Lyn-Lake dive bar long has been a melting pot for hipsters, bros and old-timers, but VFWs are better known for bingo and karaoke than booty-grinding dance parties.
Jacobs and Cloud fathered Forever Young in the lower-level event space after Jacobs drunkenly talked his way into a weekly DJ night — his Tuesday Night Music Club. “[At first] it was like, ‘Wow, people actually want to come to a party at the VFW in the basement,’ ” recalled Cloud, a Mpls.TV co-founder. “All right then.”
After a year and a half of nostalgic soirees with themes that ranged from school dance to slumber party, the two kickball buds are pulling the plug on Forever Young as a monthly dance night. But the co-captains of revelry are going out with a bang, throwing their second adult prom at First Avenue on Friday (if only you could letter in partying). Last year’s prom drew about 800 to the mainroom, they said. The 21-plus event is an opportunity to relive or redo this rite of passage with (legal) drinking and no finger-wagging chaperones.
Catering to millennials’ sentimental sides, Forever Young soundtracks are like “Total Request Live” box sets. Top 40 relics are culled from 1996 to 2006, including classic cuts from Britney, JT and Nelly. Jacobs and Cloud said these trips down memory lane invigorate people on the dance floor waiting to wild out to their favorite jam. “People love the music they grew up with,” Jacobs said. “You don’t really fall in love with music the same way that you do when you’re younger.”
Cloud said he and Jacobs don’t always see eye to eye on all things Forever Young, with a planning committee often playing tiebreaker. But one thing they agree on is that no track goes over as well Ginuwine’s croaking, euphemistic hit “Pony.”
“It’s like the magic song, because no matter what you do wrong you just play ‘Pony’ and everybody’s OK,” Jacobs said. “It’s so weird.”
As the sun sets on their monthly parties, the twosome are busy hatching other events under the Forever Young banner. Currently, they’re planning an installation at next month’s Northern Spark and thinking about a late-summer yacht party (presumably “Big Pimpin’ ” would be on repeat).
Cloud and Jacobs aren’t entirely singing “Bye Bye Bye” to the VFW and are not ruling out future fetes in its event space. One day we might even see an “American Wedding”-style reunion party there. Still, Cloud said he hopes people will one day reminisce about these, well, reminiscent dance parties.
Can we get a “Good Riddance [Time of Your Life]” montage?
Winner vs. Dogg
Certain to appeal to competitive controller-clutchers, Insert Coins is offering one skilled “Madden 13” player the chance to go cleat to digital cleat with weed-culture kingpin Snoop Dogg (or his Rasta reincarnate Snoop Lion?). The gamers’ nightclub is hosting a “Madden 13” tournament Saturday ($25 entry or $10 cover, noon-10 p.m.) with the winner taking on Tha Doggfather, who’s performing at Soundset this weekend, at a Sunday after-party hosted by the iconic rapper. MN Fats and DJ D Mil perform at the Up in Smoke after-party.
9 p.m., Sun., $25-$50, 21-plus, 315 1st Av. N., Mpls., 612-564-4016, www.insertcoinsmpls.com
Surly Brewing announced this week that it has made a distribution deal with St. Paul-based Johnson Brothers. The hop heroes have gone the self-distro route since opening in 2006. But with Surly’s bold beers now supplied to more than 500 bars and liquor stores and an expansion on the horizon, it seems an appropriate time to partner with a distributor. Last month, head brewer Todd Haug said Surly’s new Prospect Park brewery should be brew-ready by June 2014.