Published 11:23 am Sunday, November 20, 2011

El Parral shakes to an electric earthquake

Rochelle Perleberg hoola-hoops on the dance floor Friday, Nov. 11, at El Parral during Sub Syndicate Presents Box Fan Fridays. - Jason Schoonover/

El Parral Ballroom came alive a little more than a week ago.

The bass crashed, the people danced, the place shook. Beats and whirs and grooves filled the atmosphere as DJs took the stage, mixing the tracks to keep people on the floor.

At the center of the club-like frenzy stood DJ Bartbarian, one of the Box Fan Friday’s crew putting together Electronic shows in Austin.

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Bartbarian, who residents know as Matt Bartholomew, is one of the dance night’s organizers, giving young adults in Austin something to do on Friday nights.

Matt Bartholomew, DJ Bartbarian, during Sub Syndicate Presents: Box Fan Fridays. - Jason Schoonover/

“I’ve been thinking about throwing parties in Austin for a while,” Bartholomew said.

An Austin resident who grew up here, Bartholomew is a professional DJ with a track record at some of Colorado’s hottest nightclubs, where the 23-year-old cut his teeth mixing. He moved to the Denver area with a friend after graduating from Austin High School. He spent four years finding work and learning how to work turntables mixing hip-hop into electronic music, what many people think of as Techno.

“You can pretty much remix anything into an electronic song,” Bartholomew said. “It’s pretty versatile music.”

Bartholomew loved electronic music in high school, jumping from genres like House — mellow, happier dance music — to Techno. While people who don’t normally listen to electronic music think of all the genres as Techno, electronic aficionados know the difference between Acid Trance, Happy Hardcore, Electroswing and Italo Dance.

“They all have their beats per minute, and different moods,” Bartholomew said.

Bartholomew already knew plenty about electronic music, but practice and time helped him earn weekly DJ gigs at Diamond After Dark and Vinyl Records, two of Denver’s more well-known nightclubs. It’s the emotion electronic music evokes that draws Bartholomew, and a growing number of Americans, to a style of music popular in other parts of the world.

“I like the darker, deeper side of electronic music, the powerful side, instilling emotion for people,” he said. “That’s probably what I love about it the most, when I’m making music. (I’m) trying to make music that makes you think, but at the same time it makes you dance.”

Strobe and laster lights shine over dancers during Sub Syndicate Presents: Box Fan Fridays at El Parral Friday, Nov. 11. - Jason Schoonover/

Bartholomew moved back to Austin last December for family reasons and decided to get back into DJing while he was here. While he and his friends would make music, they would also wonder what they could do to bring some fun to Austin. That’s where Box Fan came in.

Bartholomew said the Box Fan name comes from his friends horsing around one day, but the group is serious about bringing dance to Austin adults 18 and up. He and the rest of the Box Fan crew wanted to start a dance night here, but finding the right venue was tough: The Paramount Theatre was nice, but there wasn’t enough space for what they were thinking. That’s when someone suggested El Parral. With El Parral’s sound system, plenty of space and bars in the back and near the dance floor, the Box Fan crew saw a golden opportunity.

“It’s the best venue in Austin, hands down, as far as throwing a show where you want a couple hundred people,” Bartholomew said.

The Nov. 11 show went off with few complications, surpassing Bartholomew’s expectations.

About 225 to 250 people showed up throughout the night to hear Bartholomew spin Dubstep, Electro House, Breaks and more along with acts like Randy Stewart’s Tech House, Trance and Progressive House set and DJ Edgar’s Hip-Hop/Electro/Techno turn.

“I just wanted it to go smoothly, get a good crowd in there,” Bartholomew said.

The Box Fan schedule is a little helter-skelter, as the crew hopes to schedule more shows. Bartholomew will play at the Black Friday Dub show on Nov. 25 at El Parral and another Box Fan Friday show is set up Dec. 23, when Atlanta-based duo Mantis may show up. The shows will usually run from 8 or 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. and the Box Fan crew hope to bring in larger, more recognizable electronic acts. Bartholomew hopes Box Fan and his music company, Sub Syndicate, gets bigger and bigger. He hopes to one day concentrate on his DJing and producing records. Above all, he wants to share the music he loves with others.

“The more I can share the music I love with people while I’m here, the better,” he said.