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Arts & Entertainment

Best Internationally Renowned Traveling Queer Party and DJ Collective 

Honey Soundsystem

Wednesday, May 6 2015

Putting a good party together is hard work. A party worth attending requires a solid vision, an excellent soundsystem, talented, relevant guests, and a committed, passionate crowd. Even if a promoter manages to cobble all these things together, though, it's the long run where things get difficult: Throwing parties week after week, month after month, year after year takes quite a toll — mentally, physically, and fiscally. But for the promoters and DJs who manage to stick it out, it's in the long run where things get interesting. Honey Soundsystem has been throwing parties since 2006; originally a duo consisting of Jacob Sperber and Ken Woodard, it quickly expanded to a foursome, now comprising Jacob Sperber (aka Jackie House), Jason Kendig, Josh Cheon, and Robert Yang (aka Bézier). Honey Soundsystem began as an attempt to fill a hole (pun honestly not intended) in the mid-'00s gay scene of San Francisco, in which mainstream dance music ruled the roost and underground house, techno, and disco were woefully underrepresented. In 2008, Honey launched its weekly Sunday night residency at The Holy Cow, an otherwise very-heterosexual club on Folsom Street. For five years (that's roughly 250 parties, but who's counting?) it hosted a who's who of underground electronic music, regularly bringing out world-renowned DJs to play its cozy weekly party. After its weekly party ended in 2013, Honey Soundsystem took it up a notch, throwing parties less frequently but on a much larger scale. Its parties now occupy some of San Francisco's largest dancefloors (Public Works, Mighty, and Gray Area's newly reopened theater have all hosted Honey Soundsystem events) and regularly feature visual extravaganzas, as Honey collaborates with local artists to create full-scale lighting installations that look like nothing else in San Francisco. But what really makes Honey Soundsystem more than "just a party" is the talent and work each individual member of the collective puts back into the scene. Josh Cheon also runs Dark Entries Records, a record label with a global fanbase dedicated primarily to reissuing lost post-punk, Italo disco, and synthpop gems; as Bézier, Robert Yang creates icy, emotional, undulating synth music that, while sounding like it was plucked straight from 1978, still sounds noticeably fresh; Jason Kendig is probably the most accomplished DJ of the group, with a career stretching back decades, into Detroit; and last but not least, Jacob Sperber's sassy DJ alter ego, Jackie House, must be seen to be believed. And they're taking the show on the road: Besides each individual member being booked at various clubs and parties around the world, Honey Soundsystem is hosting a six-date residency at Chicago's Smart Bar, which launched this year, in which it pays homage to "the queer history of the dancefloor," reclaiming the club floor as a space for gay men by gay men. In the final analysis, though, there's no need to wax lyrical about how fine Honey Soundsystem parties are; simply go to the next one yourself, enjoy the warm, welcoming crowd, and lose yourself to the throb of timeless dance music.

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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