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Let George do it

I have to admit, I wasn’t ever a big fan of Culture Club. During
their heyday, I was getting into the Police and the Clash, and I didn’t
have time for a guy in makeup singing about how he was going to tumble 4 me.
Nope, I was all about theories of synchronicity and guns in a place called
Brixton.

Now Joe Strummer has passed into the great beyond and Sting is about as
relevant as the castle he lives in. Boy George, on the other hand, has
cheated heroin addiction and a killer fall from the pop charts to emerge as a
superstar DJ on the world stage while still running in the face of mainstream
culture. It’s one of the most remarkable career transformations, and
you can see the results for yourself when he spins at the Standard tonight
(Thursday).

It’s a life that has spawned not one but two autobiographies. The
first, Take It Like a Man, detailed George’s youth in Britain, moving
to London at the age of 15 and making clubland his home. The forthcoming
second tome, Straight, tackles his post-Culture Club reinvention and rise to
prominence as a DJ during the dance boom of the 1990s. And let’s not
forget Taboo, the stage musical about the New Romantic movement of the 1980s
that George became an instrumental part of. Hey, do you see Paul Oakenfold
pulling this kind of stuff off?

The DJ booth has always been a home for the former George O’Dowd. In
1979, he hooked up with another would-be pop star, Jeremy Healy, and started
playing records for the kids. Then he met another DJ, Michael Craig, and a
drummer named Jon Moss, who formed the nucleus of Culture Club. Listen to
much of the band’s material, and it was in sync with the rhythms of
British dancefloors at the time—the beat never strayed far from what
Boy George was doing.

But toward the end of the band, he was battling an addiction to heroin,
which he eventually kicked in 1987, the same year he scored his first
chart-topping solo single, “Everything I Own.” The DJ career fell
into place soon after, and the liberty of the profession continues to appeal
to his counterculture nature. As he says in his profile on Trust the DJ.com,
“I love the freedom I have as a DJ, especially now that pop music is so
generic. If someone gives me a tune they’ve knocked up in their
bedroom, I can play it and no one can stop me. I don’t scan the dance
chart to see what’s big and I don’t play for the crowd because
these days the crowd mostly wants to hear what they know. I want to excite
the crowd but I also want to feel excited about what I’m
playing.”

Could Boy George save the world of pop music once again? Well, he does
have ideas, and his own electropop group, the Twin, to work with. In a recent
interview with Scruff, a U.K.-based clubbing newsletter, the DJ expressed
displeasure with the direction of today’s disposable culture and called
for a return to clubbing elitism and pretension. “A lack of snobbery is
what has allowed pop music to become so pedestrian and generic,” he
said. Tickets for the show are available at Ticketmaster, Foosh, Colourblind
and Underground.

Also breezing through town this weekend is Toronto house phenomenon
Hatiras, who’s hitting the booth at Y Afterhours on Saturday night. Of
course, Hatiras is the creator of the Juno Award-winning single “Spaced
Invader,” one of the most memorable house anthems of the last decade.
With a turbo-charged, never-ending climbing whine flying atop a relentless
funky rhythm, “Spaced Invader” was an inspired moment in clubbing
history, but it was only the beginning. Since then, he’s released a
full-length album, Arrival, which featured collaborations with friends like
Bad Boy Bill, and pushed his space-age disco sound further with the mixed
compilation Electronic Luv.

Finally, those of you who are heading down to Connected v.7 in Calgary on
May 1 but lack a ride may want to consider the Boogie Bus that some local
sorts have put together. The deal is pretty simple, by the sound of
it—for only $20, you get driven there and back by a professional bus
driver, and everyone is welcome because the party is all-ages. However, you
must have photo ID of some sort and a ticket to the party. Space is really
limited, so jump on this now. For more details, drop by the new Foosh
street-level location on Whyte Avenue or send an e-mail to funkgrrl@shaw.ca.
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