By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Paco Paco might've been a drive-thru likker store back in the day. Something about the slanted roof, pointy lit-up sign, and the way the squat structure juts out to the south of Earll Drive on 16th Street with a little driveway off to the side. Whatever its original use, it's a gay Latino spot now, and normally closed on Tuesdays. Still, here I am on a Tuesday night, doing an interview with Phoenix metro's most influential rock DJ outside the front door of the joint, counting the cop cars as they roll past, and the squalies as they file by for the soon-to-be bi-monthly dance par-tay Plus One.
No scenester worth his or her vintage tee will dispute the above assertion of DJ Denny Le Nimh's clout. Often referred to as DJ Nimh, or plain "Denny" by P-town clubbers, the 29-year-old's the Yoda of rock DJs in tha PHX, the guy who took a gritty dive called Boom (now the far less gritty Karamba) and made it the place to see and be seen on Friday nights. This was two-plus years ago when electroclash was the rage, and Hot Pink! was a dark, trashy den of smoke-laden sluttiness with a frenzied Fischerspooner-esque soundtack. Denny's name was on the tongue of every hot 20-year-old bimbette with enough sense to score her own fake ID. And since HP's always had 18-and-over after-hours, even just-past-puberty jailbait with candied lip gloss and too much makeup regarded Denny as a DJ god.
By the time I hit town, Denny was already taking the show on the road, eventually DJ-ing at a spot called Scenic on New York's Lower East Side, the site of Gotham's first Hot Pink!. He's kept his thumb in the Phoenix pie through HP residents like Dirty Dave, by jetting into the Zona monthly to do sets, and by setting up special appearances by legends like Marky Ramone this past February 3. The worm's turned in the past coupla years, though. Electroclash has pretty much electro-crashed and burned, leaving dance-rock, Brit-pop, and neo-New Wave to fill the void amongst the same Hot Pinkish faction. Karamba's drinks are a helluva lot more expensive, too, and sadly there seems to be less dry-humping and saliva-swapping in the club's shadowy recesses, maybe because there are precious few shadowy recesses left in the renovated danceteria.
On the NYC tip, Scenic recently swapped ownership, according to Denny. Hot Pink! will be reopening on April 7 at another Lower East Side spot called The Annex. In the interim, the workaholic mix maestro has a Hot Pink! poppin' off at Tommy Lee's Rokbar in Miami for the Winter Music Conference. There are even plans for a Hot Pink! in Stockholm, for cryin' out loud! So if Hot Pink's fuchsia-tinted star has dimmed slightly around here, it's understandable that the wax wizard can, er, waxphilosophical about it.
"Anything you do in Phoenix, if you do it for a long period of time, it's gonna go through phases," explains Denny, lookin' chill in his black leather jacket. "There are only so many people who patronize these type of events. So some people will be over it. At the same time, you're going to be getting people who just turned 18 or 21 and are just getting into it.
"As far as Phoenix Hot Pink!, it's kinda in a transitional stage," he continues. "Some people are like, 'Why don't you just end it, or change the name?' But I want it to be a staple, a brand, something that's open to anybody who wants to have a good time. So if you have friends in from out of town, and they ask, 'What's there to do in Phoenix?' there's always Hot Pink!"
I'd give the boy props if he needed them. When most folks migrate to the Big Snapple they suddenly get water on the brain when it comes to their hometowns. They'll diss 'em, even deny that they're from there. But Denny has opened up a musical conduit between the two metropolises, exposing PHX track-shufflers to New York, and helping them score gigs there, while using the connex he's garnered in Manny-hanny and other cities to funnel in some different flava to Fenix. Take tonight's Plus One, which features not only Denny, Dirty Dave, and Frank the Rabbit on the decks, but a baby-faced newjack from Hollyweird named DJ Paparazzi.
Denny's not the only needle-dropper with contacts beyond Maricopa County, and not the only one importing cool shit. Moreover, he prolly wouldn't be doing it if there were zero ducats in it for him. But by carving out a dance-rock niche in a PHX awash with hip-hop, techno, Latin and house, he's paved the way for other popular rock and dance-rock nights, like Palo Verde's Tee Roy and Donkey Show and the Rogue's Shake!.
"So why Plus One?" I query, as I look around, anticipating the Jettster to show her pretty puss at any moment.
"That came from people always e-mailing me and asking, 'I really wanna go to your party, can I get on the list plus one?'" Denny explains. "It kinda works because every time I do it, I offer people guest list spots. Just send me an e-mail, tell me who you're bringing, and you skip the cover. Why do it at Paco Paco? I figured I'd try a different venue. This spot still has that dive bar feel to it, but it also has a dance floor."