BTD Episode 03: Carl Cox Performance Canceled After Police Illegally Search Ravers
Each week, EDM.com sits down with Disco Donnie, the legendary promoter, as he walks us through the most jaw-dropping stories of his career. As a veteran of the EDM rave scene, the dance party Don has worked with the best in the industry and seen the worst. Join us this week as he nonchalantly describes the time he had to stop Carl Cox from taking the stage because of police injustice and a club's questionable racial ethics.
Dance music has a propensity for holding its arms wide open to newcomers and veterans alike, and it is this welcoming atmosphere that keeps the beats pulsating from one generation to the next. Despite the community’s embracive demeanor, some view dance music as foreign and an adversary to their moral fiber. The techno and house legend Carl Cox was a victim of such antagonistic sentiment when he was booked to play outside of New Orleans at the turn of the Millennium. What transcribed those many years ago suggests that, as the dance music community evolves, the perceptions stemming from outside the bubble haven't changed in recent decades.
In the Fall of 2000, Steve Levy’s Moonshine Records traversed the United States on their annual continental tour that was appropriately named Moonshine Over America. Early October found the bus brushing against the Gulf Coast with a stop outside of New Orleans. Disco Donnie booked the tour and was confronted with a challenge in finding a venue around NOLA after issues arose at The State Palace Theater, his usual party locale.
Donnie landed on a spot outside the peripheral of New Orleans proper that claimed to be happy to host the show. It was a huge honky-tonk named Pure Country. Preliminary discussions with the club owner assured that the venue had a strong relationship with the Sheriff and any preconceived complications would be subdued.
Prior to the onset of the show, Donnie noticed the abhorrent gloaming of a Confederate flag on the wall. “We never cover up that flag,” asserted the venue owner when Donnie requested its masking. Carl Cox brushed off the archaic symbol and claimed he was just interested in playing his set. Despite Carl’s patience for the venue, once the show began, the staff did not reciprocate the amicable tone that was previously established.
The police set up roadblocks leading to the venue and were handing out more tickets than Paris Hilton would have needed to fill the room at her Coachella party. Once inside the venue, police were uninvitedly searching the patrons' pockets from behind while they were pulling out money to buy a drink at the bar. “It was a total violation of civil rights,” recalled Donnie. “If I had been a little bit older and a little bit smarter, I would have challenged them.”
In the end, the hostile climate of the dance floor prevented the show from going on as planned. “When it came time for Carl to play,” Donnie stated in a regretting tone, “I was like, ‘dude don’t worry about it.’ I said just stay on the bus. There’s a freaking war zone out there.”
EDM's acceptance by law enforcement has always been a challenge, and it is unfortunate that the conversation's climate hasn't cooled since this specific incident. If you are ever a victim of illegal search and seizure as a result of your appearance, make sure to share your story wide and far.