The latest dance party to take over downtown Lawrence takes place at the Bottleneck about every month, and the name says it all: Assjamz. If you're trying to find pictures of the insanity that goes down or see if your friends are going (and they are), then you probably know it better as #ASSJAMZ.
Started in the summer of 2012 as a way to keep folks around after shows, Assjamz has become a force all its own. Bottleneck door guys Cameron Birdsall and Jon Marzette are the brains behind this booty-shaking madness, and we spoke with them about the duo's upcoming New Year's Eve bash at the Granada.
The Pitch: Assjamz is seriously the biggest dance party in Lawrence right now. How'd it start?
: Originally it didn't even have a name. In 2012, the Bottleneck approached us to just play some music over the PA for Cinco de Mayo since there wasn't a show going on. So we made an event and invited our friends and just had a nice fun time. The bar made some money, and we were asked to fill in gaps after shows that ended early. We would just plug in next to the sound board and hang out - very low-key. Eventually, they offered us a Saturday night that was empty in the schedule, and it was a hit, and since then it's just been growing and growing. It's truly very wild. We're just two guys who try to pick music that we hope everyone is going to love and want to shake their butts to, and people have responded to that in a huge way.
In the beginning it was just our friends who came, so around 15 people, then the next time it was 25, then 40, then 60, then 90, and it kept on snowballing until it's become what it is today. It regularly is one in and one out each time we put on the event and normally do it once a month at the Bottleneck.
There's no cover at the Bottleneck when you do your thing. Why is that?
: As door guys, we hear people coming to shows lament about cover all the time. People would seemingly rather spend their money at the bar instead of at the door, and we can understand that. Since Assjamz started as us just helping the bar out on slow days, we still hold this mentality that it's not really us, and more the event. Keeping it free keeps the opportunity open for those on a Saturday who might not have a buncha money to throw around and have fun. Makes it more accessible, I guess.
: The reason we do no cover is actually because that's how it started. It was free from the start and it's never really been about the money, but just about putting on a cool event. When there's no cover, more people like to come and just enjoy themselves and have a good time. The bar still makes great money, and the older crowd still gets great drink specials. There's been a grand total of two times when there was a cover for specific reasons, but people still ended up coming and having a good time. It's really all about the experience and the fun.
Is there an Assjamz asthetic, or something you guys aim for when throwing it?
: Personally, I want it to feel like a really big house party. Everyone is dancing, everyone is meeting new people, and the music being played is stuff that everyone knows all the words to. Someone should be able to come to their first #ASSJAMZ and feel right at home. Like ... literally, at their home. We want the people dancing like they're practicing in the mirror. Doing crazy stuff, fun stuff, all inhibitions thrown to the wind. If I had to boil it down to something short, it'd be like a house party and a rap music video fused with each other to create something where everyone is welcome to be wild and have fun. It's all about the fun.
: Now that Assjamz has developed, I've always designed the fliers for the event, and each one always has its own theme for the evening. From Halloween to back-to-school to wearing pink to beach parties, etc. Each one is different in theme, but overall people can expect there to be a huge amount of people packed in the venue and everyone dancing onstage and on the floor. People know what to expect in general with the amount of booty shaking and dancing, but the theme is always the wrench in the cog and changes things up.
What stuff do you guys have planned for New Year's?
: We want to try and get all the good stuff at the Granada for New Year's: confetti, decorations, a slick video being projected behind us courtesy of Quinn Brabender, crazy light stuff, a photo booth, people taking pictures the whole night actually. Just a super-fun night with everything anyone would want at a NYE party. I also am trying to get Ryan Seacrest to come, but I have a feeling he's going to be busy that night. Fingers crossed!
: For New Year's Eve, we wanted to bring out a lot of special things for this one. We're planning on having a few more surprises that I'm just gonna say you have to be there to witness, for sure. People can expect that there will be dancing - of course - but there will be some more special things to expect, for sure.
Will Assjamz always stay at the Bottleneck, or might it make its way somewhere larger - other than the Granada for New Year's Eve, obviously?
: I don't see us moving Assjamz anywhere other than the Bottleneck. It's the perfect size for the vibe we have, I think. It's small enough to feel intimate, and, like, I can see everyone and holler at everyone over the mic, and yet it can still fit a few hundred people. I worry that a dance party like ours can suffer easily from moving locations. People might not like X venue or whatever, and it's already been at Bottleneck for almost two years, so why fix what isn't broken? Also, it's kinda home base for me at least. I work there and drink there, and it's nice to know the people working the bar that we do Assjamz at.
: We've actually stepped out and did a stint with the Bear Club guys at Taproom one time in the earlier months, which is was really fun. But Bottleneck is definitely home to Assjamz and, other than this special occasion for New Year's Eve, I'd say it'll probably stay at Bottleneck for a long while unless there was another special occasion.
#Assjamz New Year's Eve Edition at the Granada, Tuesday, December 31, 9 p.m., $5. Details here.