Michelle Chinichian and Jay Wiggins have spent the past four-and-a-half years having loads of fun. Since May 2013, the two Phoenix DJs have been doing so at their monthly dance events, Tongue Tied.
According to Wiggins, who performs as DJ Funkfinger, the focus of the dance parties, which offered a different theme each month, was to have a blast.
"That's been our goal the whole time. Throw a night, no pretension, no drama, just have a great time," he says.
They did so with gusto. For the last four years and change, the duo put on parties that were colorful, kooky, filled with fun, and a little bit wild at the Linger Longer Lounge and the now-defunct Apollo's Lounge before that.
Each month, Tongue Tied had a distinct theme, typically of an amusing, playful, or vibrant bent. There have been events inspired by the Olympics, video games, hair metal, Daft Punk, geeky pursuits, zombies, cats, and even Lisa Frank’s art. As you might expect, costumes were a regular part of Tongue Tied parties.
"We always wanted everyone to have a good time," says Chinichian, who performs as DJ Roya.
And to dance to the indie, alternative, pop, and R&B sounds both retro and modern that Chinichian and Wiggins would lay down.
Both DJs have been a part of the Phoenix dance music scene for even longer (Chinichian, for instance, used to spin at the old Obscura party several years back) and wanted to do a party with an "anything goes" mentality when it came to the soundtrack.
"We really have a wide-ranging taste in music, and Jay really wanted to do a night where we could play anything," Chinichian says. "We both had been doing traditional hipster parties and thought, 'What are we going to do that's different?'"
That meant pretty much playing anything they wanted at Tongue Tied. And they pretty much did the same when it came to Tongue Tied's themes each month over the past four-and-a-half years.
But every party inevitably comes to an end. On Saturday, November 4, Chinichian and Wiggins will hold the final edition of Tongue Tied with one final blowout inspired by Dia de Los Muertos called the "Dance of the Dead."
In honor of the occasion, Chinichian and Wiggins sat down with Phoenix New Times recently to share some of their favorite Tongue Tied parties from the last few years.
New Year's Eve at Crescent Ballroom
December 31, 2014
Chinichian: Sean [Watson] asked if we wanted to DJ, and I asked if we could call it the Tongue Tied tent, so he had the inside party and we had the whole outside party, which was just incredible. They shut down Second Avenue. It was like 2,000 people, and it snowed. It was crazy.
Wiggins: It was freezing. They had a heater but it did nothing. It was 30 degrees and it was definitely snowing, which actually helped people come outside, because it was snowing in Phoenix, everybody's gotta check that out
Chinichian: I remember thinking, "This is going to be a long, miserable night." But as soon as people came, they came with such great attitudes. It just like warmed up the whole atmosphere.
Wiggins: I didn't thaw out for like two days afterwards.
DTPHX Zombie Ball
October 16, 2015
Chinichian: That was like our largest budgeted production ever. [Downtown Phoenix Inc.] partnered with us and were cool with whatever we wanted. So, I always wanted to do a group "Thriller" dance at midnight, so they hired a choreographer.
It was supposed to be an after-party for the Zombie Walk but then they wanted it to be a warm-up event to create a weeklong celebration. There were stilt-walkers, people walking around on glass, aerialists ... it was just cool.
Phoenix Comicon Party
June 7, 2014
Chinichian: I loved it when Michael Whyman came to our Comicon party in 2014. He's like this lightsaber guru guy and he came out and did a lightsaber battle and Jay played this techno remix of the "Imperial March." [Laughs] It was so great.
Wiggins: And I was adding in lightsaber sound effects while he was doing it.
Mardi Gras Ball
March 1, 2014
Chinichian: We had Dry River Yacht Club kind of bomb the audience with "When the Saints Go Marching In" and lead the audience in a Mardi Gras parade, which was like a conga line.
Wiggins: That was amazing.
Chinichian: We had this court jester and a drag queen that was throwing beads from the DJ booth. That was fun.
Pajama Pizza Party
October 4, 2014
Chinichian: We got $700 worth of pizza donated by Spinato's, and it was literally crowd-surfing the dance floor. There was pizza everywhere. Pizza in the photo booth as props. Pizza on the back patio at Apollo's. Pizza everywhere.
Wiggins: It was a midnight pizza delivery. Everybody's like drunk and goes nuts for pizza.
Chinichian: The next day, I had to take down the decorations and there was like pizza all over the parking lot. It was gross. We had so much fucking pizza. It was so fun.
Bitchin' Big Hair Band Party
February 8, 2015
Wiggins: This guy Dave Driscoll used to come and dance at our parties. He was known as the "Dave Driscoll Dance Machine."
Chinichian: He was our interpretive dance and would interpret the songs we played.
Wiggins: He was just amazing.
Chinichian: Every Dave Driscoll moment was incredible for us, especially at the Bitchin' Big Hair Band Party we did that was about metal. He was air-guitaring on top of amps and speakers. He was such a joy.
DJ Roya's Magical Unicorn & Rainbow Birthday Party
January 4, 2014
Chinichian: It was my birthday and I wanted to have this Lisa Frank party with unicorns and rainbows and everything. The first time you do something, you don't know if it's going to be a success. Like, "Are we going to make asses of ourselves? Is this going to be a flop or are people going to really embrace it?"
It was hard to find all this Lisa Frank stuff because it was all discontinued. But I found these puzzles and coloring books at the dollar store. And to see goth people coloring and doing these puzzles and stuff. It was just a great moment.
Wiggins: It was really colorful.
Chinichian: We got there kind of early and were setting up and this big, plushy masked monkey walks in. And I thought [my friends] hired somebody for my birthday, which is the best present event, but it was a patron. I just couldn't believe it.
Under the Sea Homecoming
September 6, 2014
Chinichian: This party looked incredible. Like, lighting-wise, it was all these blues and greens and we had all these floating blow-up animals hanging from the ceiling. And, then, we had a sponsorship with Yandy and the whole staff came as sexy lobsters, sexy sharks, and sexy sailors.
Wiggins: With Yandy, any costume they do is sexy.
Chinichian: It was also a homecoming theme, so like homecoming dresses and sexy sea life people. So that was fun.
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Let's Get Physical! Dance Party
March 7, 2015
Chinichian: I always get a DVD to play at each party, so for the "Let's Get Physical" party, I got these Richard Simmons '80s aerobics videos. And when Jay and I were DJing and all of sudden he goes, "Michelle, look at the dance floor," and then he goes, "Look at the screens." And the whole audience were synchronizing their movement to the videos. [Laughs]
Wiggins: They were following Richard Simmons' moves on screen. We couldn't see that at first because we couldn't see the screens.
Chinichian: So we're playing Daft Punk and Hot Chip and we see people doing all these moves in sync with each other. They were basically doing the '80s aerobics all night with these songs that didn't match up with the moves.