Richmond-based DJ collective Body Talk has been funking up the local disco scene for almost five years. This weekend, their newest Skyyline event is kicking off at The HofGarden’s rooftop with guest DJs from Baltimore’s 4 Hours of Funk.
Body Talk’s funk parties bring the 80s dance party to RVA every last Saturday of the month at Continental Divide. The Skyyline party is set to fill the mid-month gap every second Saturday at The HofGarden throughout the summer and likely into early October.
“Part of what we love about this music is that even if you’re not familiar with it, it gives you a good feeling,” resident DJ Sean Lovelace said. “So what better to complement that than a rooftop party?”
Lovelace joined the crew in 2013 alongside resident DJs Mike Murphy, Mordecai and Tru Blu. All of Body Talk’s DJ’s have been at it for over a decade, and their first party in December of 2012 was put on by DJ Mike Murphy and DJ Mordecai.
“We’re all huge fans of that kind of music where it went from being four-on-the-floor disco stuff to a little more loose, a little more funky and with lots of synthesizers,” Lovelace said. “We might play some early hip hop like Sugarhill Gang or Grandmaster Flash, and sneak some golden era hip hop in there. It’s all in that wheelhouse, the feel-good 80’s funky stuff.”
Body Talk emerged among other DJ crews that have popped up across the country over the last decade. Baltimore’s 4 Hours of Funk just celebrated their 8th anniversary, and have DJ’s Graham and Fleg making the trip down to RVA for this weekend’s Skyyline show. With funk, soul, boogie and disco, the Baltimore shows play on a similar wavelength to Body Talk.
“It’s a party that focuses on an era of music that a lot of people have a lot of different names for,” Lovelace said. “Some people call it post-disco, some people call it boogie, but it’s all from that post-1979 period after the disco demolition when folks hit their saturation point. Disco became a dirty word, but dance music and club culture hadn’t started yet.”
The crew was partly influenced by parties along the west coast, Lovelace said, and draws inspiration from crews like San Francisco’s Sweater Funk. Body Talk has also seen guest DJs like the MOdERN CLASS crew from D.C. and Studebaker Hawk from Massachusetts.
“We’ve had everyone from local and regional to the shakers and movers in what’s called the modern funk movement,” Lovelace said. “So that’s kind of where we’re at, Richmond gets skipped over a lot of times for certain music genres. Part of my thing with Body Talk is not to just throw a good party for the locals, but also to be a blimp on that radar, so when west coast crews want to come to the east coast we can make sure they have a place to land in Richmond.”
For their Richmond shows, Lovelace wants folks to remember the parties are organized to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible.
“It should go without saying, but it’s a helpful reminder that we want everybody to feel safe and have a good time,” he said. “The DJs that I look back to from the 70s and 80s, that’s what they were about, bringing everyone together and letting them work out their differences on the dance floor.”
When they’re not playing shows for Body Talk, Lovelace and DJ Mike Murphy can be found volunteering at Richmond’s WRIR 97.3 Independent Radio. Catch Lovelace’s show Cosmic Slop Sundays from 11pm-1am and Murphy’s Mellow Madness on Sunday afternoons from 1-3pm.
The full list of Body Talk’s guest artists include DJ’s Andrew Morgan, Ben Johnson, Benjamin & Cermakk, Bus Crates 16 Bit Ensemble, Computea Games, Fulani, Mr. Felty, DJ Provoke, Studebaker Hawk, Trev-ski, and live set artists Brian Ellis and Shirt Schwarz.
Catch Body Talk, along with 4 Hours of Funk at their Skyyline event at The HofGarden, located at 2818 W. Broad St., Sat., July 8. 8 pm-12 am. Free.