Fever returns with reunion party

Old electronic music party spins again at Paradox

Scene: Clubs, Bars, Nightlife

August 05, 2004|By Lisa Wiseman | Lisa Wiseman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In the early 1990s, Baltimore's underground electronic music scene was just beginning to emerge.

While most people spent Friday and Saturday night swilling beer in Fells Point, head-banging at Hammerjacks or dancing to pop music in mainstream clubs, a small but dedicated group was grooving all night to the pounding beat of techno. Among the many warehouse parties and events going on around town for these pioneers of the rave scene, one Thursday night bi-weekly party stood out among the others as the place to be. It was called Fever.

Fever ran at the Paradox nightclub on Russell Street from December 1992 to May 2001 and became one of the longest-running events of its kind in the United States. Tonight, Fever holds a reunion party for its faithful fans.

"We wanted to do something really big in Baltimore and turn people's heads," said Scott Henry, 41, who along with fellow DJ Charles Fields, aka Feelgood, founded Fever. Both founding DJs will be spinning at the reunion party tonight along with DJs Buster and Chris Bulla, who owns Modern Music record store on Eastern Avenue in Greektown. One of Henry's fondest memories of Fever was the outdoor courtyard where you could watch the trains pass by with horns blasting.

Unlike most bars and clubs that cater to a specific crowd, Fever attracted the most un-homogenous group around. It was a place where gay and straight, drag queens and beauty queens, frat boys and home boys came together on the dance floor. "It was such a weird mix of people," Henry said. "You could sit there and people-watch all night."

Fever attracted, literally, thousands of people; many would drive hours to get there and then stand in line under a highway overpass for more hours to get into the club. But Fever was more than a rave or a place to dance. It was a phenomenon.

"I was introduced to a world of absolutely beautiful people, amazing lighting and music, and a vibe that had honestly taken my breath away," said Roy Brown, 28, of his first visit to Fever in the summer of 1995 to see the group Dubtribe. "The memory of that night will always stay with me," he said.

"This party in my mind personified what was at the time a newly budding electronic music scene in Baltimore and has been the keystone in developing the mature and properly educated masses that we have in Baltimore today," said Samson Stout, 26.

"Fever was great music, of course, but for me it was always mostly about its magical atmosphere. Once inside, it was like being cocooned in the coziest, friendliest, happiest vibe imaginable," said Mary Morris, 52, who plans to attend the reunion. "At the last Fever, I think it was Feelgood who dropped Sister Sledge's `We Are Family,' which perfectly summed up the whole experience. Afterwards, Fever became this enchanted place in the part of my brain reserved for the most special memories."

Not only did Fever help catapult the DJ careers of Scott Henry and Charles Fields, both of whom are now nationally recognized, but it also brought in big names in electronic music such as Paul Van Dyk, Carl Cox, Sven Vath and Dieselboy. It also gave local DJs a chance to get more exposure.

"Without Fever I wouldn't be DJing all of the places that I have DJ'd," said Erwin L Hill, aka Cornflake, 33.

"It helped mold the scene and the culture," said Jason Belote, aka DJ Sun. "People were excited by the scene. ... We wanted to give it a boost and make things happen."

For many people, Fever was an escape from reality, even if it was just for a few hours.

"People dressed up for it. They planned out their costume in advance," Henry said.

"It's what my calendar revolved around," said Eric Watson, 25. "It was the place I could forget about trouble and stress and let loose. Who you were between 9-5 wasn't who you were at Fever. At Fever you were part of something important, something which made trouble and stress seem like a waste of time."

For more club events, see Page 28.

Fever Reunion Party

Where: The Paradox, 1310 Russell St.

When: Tonight; doors open at 10

Ages: 18 and up (must have proof of age)

Other: BYOB -- No glass bottles or coolers. All liquor, beer and wine must be checked at the bar.

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