Back in his native Chicago, DJ Petey had witnessed the birth of house music, found work as a DJ, and attended Grateful Dead concerts. From those experiences, he wanted to understand the connection between Deadhead culture and the rave phenomenon that took hold of the U.S. in the 1990s.
“I realized that something was going on with a repetitive beat, shamanistic thinking, and the emerging culture,” he says.
Petey moved to the Los Angeles area and, in 1994, went to his first Moontribe party. It was the first anniversary of the electronic music collective known for its full moon gatherings in the desert, and Petey was enamored.
“It looked like a Grateful Dead parking lot with better sound,” he recalls of the party that took place on a dry lake bed as the moon rose in the midst of daylight. “You’re on a dry lake bed and you look to one side and you see the moon all big and round and you look to the other side and see the sun all big and round. You look in front of you and you see this sound system with all these beautiful people dancing and you think things are pretty cool.”
Petey became a regular at the gatherings, offering his assistance in setting up equipment and driving trucks to the meeting sites until the crew “finally” let him DJ.
“The first time I ever played at a Moontribe gathering outside in the desert, my record started to melt and it was the weirdest thing I had ever seen in my life,” he says. “[The record] just starts to flop a little bit and it’s the strangest looking thing. It’s as if it were to turn into a piece of cloth material.” Were it not for a friend who shaded the vinyl with the turntables’ covers throughout the duration of his performance, Petey’s set might have been ruined. But, even the fear of melting vinyl couldn’t keep the DJ away from Moontribe. He has been part of the collective for ages now and, for the past six and a half years, has been the promoter of Moontribe’s $2 Tuesdays party in Santa Monica.
The weekly gathering began on June 27, 2001 at the now-defunct Santa Monica nightclub Sugar and eventually moved to Mor Bar, which the party called home for four years. After Mor Bar shut its doors last fall, Petey and company relocated to Zanzibar. Despite the move, the club’s theme – a wide mix of electronic styles played by “quality possessors of quality music” – remains the same.
“It’s about having a place to meet up with your friends in between desert gatherings,” Petey explains. “People come from all over the world and know that they can find us on Tuesdays.”
Joining DJ Petey and his fellow Moontribe DJs this month will be Paul Robb of the band Information Society on January 22, and internationally renowned DJ Simply Jeff on January 29.