The time is roughly midnight on any given Monday of the year. You stand amid 100 to 150 people, patiently awaiting a beer. Without fail, the patron next to you gripes, "Jeez, it's so dead tonight." And without fail, said patron speaks too soon. Come 1 a.m., folks are filing through the door as if it were a Friday night — or at least as if Tuesday morning carried no particular consequences where a hangover is concerned. Who are these people? Don't they have jobs?
Few would peg Monday night as the best time to host a recurring event. Nevertheless, Electric Western's Keep on Movin' dance parties have remained consistently packed for four consecutive years. This Monday, Keep on Movin' turns 4 with its 210th edition, making it one of Nashville's longest running nightlife staples and club night anomalies.
On a Monday night in September 2008, most of Keep on Movin's current regulars were more than likely safely tucked in bed awaiting their next school day. That's when Keep on Movin' co-conspirators Jacob Jones and Reno Bo of Electric Western — an "independent boutique recording company and collective" — then new to Nashville by way of NYC, had an incredibly simple idea that, oddly enough, hasn't changed one damn bit since the dance party's inception: play '50s and '60s rock 'n' soul records, serve alcohol, have fun. While a few guest DJs — Greg Cartwright, garage-rock guru and leader of rock outfits The Parting Gifts, The Oblivians and Reigning Sound, for instance, who spun records at a Keep on Movin' earlier this year — and drink specials have come and gone, the resident DJs and even their playlists have remained as static as the public's reaction is dynamic.
"I think we definitely filled a void when the party started," says Jones. "There was nothing else on a Monday that went late night at all, and there certainly wasn't anywhere in town where you could hear this kind of music all night in a bar you probably already hung out in."
When the Scene sent our anonymous concert-review faction, The Spin, to take a peek at this phenomenon during the first month of its run, Keep on Movin' was a strictly East Side hang featuring a who's who of friends and regulars. As popularity grows and word spreads further, the familiar faces have disappeared and reappeared. The beginning of a new college semester sees the crowd swapped out, as with a tide, while more and more folks of all walks cross the river to join the party.
When a swing dance club started meeting in the earlier part of the evening, the demographic busted wide open — from "Cadillacs to Keds," as Jones puts it. When GQ Magazine showed up to snap some photos of the event's more fashionable clientele — the photos were used in an April 2012 spread wherein Keep on Movin' was named the "most stylish party in America" — it didn't hurt things much either. In fact, Electric Western recently established a monthly event in Atlanta, and according to Jones, approximately 150 people showed up to its inaugural bash out of sheer hype-induced curiosity. A sign of Nashville's ever-swelling cultural buzz among national publications, perhaps. Or at least a sign that people like to drink and dance to old soul records.
While folks still more commonly refer to it as literally "The Monday Night Dance Party," the event's proper title couldn't be more apt — whether the hype continues to wax or begins to wane, the folks behind Keep on Movin' intend to keep the party movin' toward the better half of a decade.