On Saturday, Downtown Binghamton bar and hookah lounge Cafe Oasis will explore the diverse history of electronic music as it hosts the first iteration of “HOTBOX.”
“HOTBOX 001” is described by its producers as a series of live music parties showcasing the underground dance music scene in the greater Binghamton area. The show will run from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. and will feature three Binghamton University student DJs: Laurie Azoulai, a senior majoring in integrative neuroscience, under the DJ name “Ora Z,” Roni Pitkowsky, a senior majoring in electrical engineering, under the DJ name “DJ Tigerbalm” and Alena Rodriguez, a senior majoring in linguistics, under the DJ name “Bofa.” They will join Binghamton resident Jordan Masciarelli, under DJ name “Jordanmasc,” as the lineup for a night of original electronic tunes.
Returning students will recognize similarities between “HOTBOX 001” and WHRW 90.5 FM’s “Cafe O’Spacis,” a night of student-run electric dance music (EDM) DJ sets also held at Cafe Oasis. Although both events feature electronic music, Azoulai and Pitkowsky, who are both members of the radio station, said the origins of “HOTBOX” lie in Creativity Plus, an artistic collective of students who were interested in music and entrepreneurship. For years, the students worked with local community leaders to raise money for the Broome County Urban League, throwing parties at Cafe Oasis and Spotlight where they would play electronic music and donate their proceeds.
When the members of Creativity Plus graduated in spring 2017, they passed the group on to their like-minded friends, the founders of “HOTBOX.”
“Before, they played a wide range of electronic music,” Azoulai said. “[For ‘HOTBOX’], we’ve narrowed it down to a more specific kind of house and techno music. People think all electronic music is EDM. It’s not EDM, it’s all the things that come before.”
Electronic music originated in disco and funk and received contributions from queer Hispanic communities in New York City, as well as African American communities in Detroit. Pitkowsky noted electronic music’s rich complexity.
“It’s not as recent as EDM — there’s a rich history in this music,” Pitkowsky said.
Azoulai and Pitkowsky hope they can present their electronic concerts as an alternative to both fraternity parties and the Downtown bar scene.
“In smaller American cities, there’s a whole subculture of people who are into this kind of scene,” Pitkowsky said. “There’s stuff here, but you have to dig for it. We want to recreate club nights and bring electronic club culture to students in Binghamton. There’s been an emotional weight to seeing the scene grow, and we helped grow it.”
The two hope that “HOTBOX 001” will be the first of many hotbox events to come, and they aim to plan larger events at different venues in the future.
However, if you want to be involved in a show, you may want to refresh your skills.
“We don’t want to sound exclusionary, but we have a very specific sound and vision in mind,” Azoulai said. “Come talk and get to know us — let’s see if you vibe with our style and complement our music.”
The live music of “HOTBOX 001” will take place at Cafe Oasis on 142 Washington St. this Saturday. Entry is $5 at the door, and you must be 18 or older to attend.