A couple weeks back, I was at the awesome Beachland Ballroom in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, when I was lured into the venue’s adjoining tavern by a throng so frenzied I thought Lady Gaga must have made an impromptu drop-by. Nope — it was New York City DJ Jonathan Toubin, whose Soul Clap & Dance-Off has grown from its humble Brooklyn-underground beginnings to a national phenomenon.
Armed with an exceptional collection of vintage soul and R&B 45s, Toubin has been crisscrossing the country, spinning tunes while dancers compete for the grand prize (in Nashville, $100). The scene in Cleveland was bonkers, as sweaty contestants — identified by numbers on their backs — writhed, squirmed, shimmied and bounced the night away, while onlookers cheered, laughed and gawked at the incredible display of flailing bodies. Think of it as Saturday Night Fever for hipsters — and more fun than you ever thought possible on Gallatin Road.