Party Planner: Restart House Music at Brothers Drake

Erica Thompson
DJs Christina “Ororo” Coles and Brian “Dingo8” Salyer

Though house music was born in Chicago's dance clubs, Columbus native Christina Coles discovered the genre thousands of miles from the Midwest. Stationed in Germany in the '90s, the Army veteran frequented the clubs on and off base.

“Every once in a while, the DJ would throw house on for two records or so,” Coles said in a mid-July interview. “I'd be out there dancing my ass off, just killing it. And that's what I became known for in the clubs over there.”

Years later, when Coles left the Army, she had a difficult time adjusting to civilian life in the U.S. “It wasn't so much that I was missing the Army,” she said. “I was missing Germany because of the music.”

She also longed for the camaraderie and acceptance. “Over there you're just wearing your military gear, so people see you for who you are,” she continued. “Here, it was more of, how do you look? … And so I was just uncomfortable with the boxes that I was getting put into.”

But Coles' fortunes changed when her brother took her to the now-closed Red Zone nightclub Downtown. She heard her beloved genre and found her place in the music scene as DJ Ororo, founding Restart House Music in the early 2000s with Nathan Rouke, aka DJ Sparrow.

“We were trying to get our foot in the door at other places and it just wasn't happening,” she said. “[And] at the time, progressive house music was being played, and I'm not really a fan of progressive house. I said, ‘We need to just restart house music.'”

Over the years, Restart cycled through venues and added DJs — Mike Niles and Brian Salyer (Dingo8) — before landing a monthly night at Brothers Drake. The next event takes place Friday, July 27.

“House music, it fits everything,” said Salyer, who played bass in bands before embracing electronic music. “It can be in a nice jazz bar, or it can be in a dirty, grungy warehouse. … It's like water. It just fits any mood.”

It also attracts a diverse group of people; Coles said she has seen everyone from “gangsters” to “roller derby girls,” as well as regular breakers at Restart events.

“Most of our people have been with us for years,” Coles said. “One of the dancers just had hip surgery. I'm pretty sure somebody's about to have another knee surgery.”

Coles and Salyer also give new DJs a chance to play at Restart. “You're gonna play for us at 10 p.m.,” Coles said. “If you can rock us, then we know that you will be able to rock our crowd. … Then the next time you come out you get the [later] spot.”

And though many young DJs are playing genres like techno and trance, house is preferred. “To us, it's always in season,” Coles said.

Brothers Drake

10 p.m. Friday, July 27

26 E. Fifth Ave., Short North