DJ Mark E. Quark recalls Len Paul, owner of Soma, telling him things such as “Play more industrial,” and “You’re playing too much of that techno shit.” Quark admits he pretty much ignored the suggestions, “As long as the dance floor was packed, I felt like I was doing a good job.” Saturday nights at Soma was Quark’s first residency, circa 1989.
Quark (Mark Hanson) recounts countless DJ adventures, including a rave on the streets of L.A. he played with Aphex Twin for the filming of a movie called Strange Days. With army tanks and 10,000 party people in attendance, they shot and reshot New Year’s countdowns to the end of the millennium (in 1994).
“It was a horrible movie. I ended up watching it and was, like, eww,” he says.
Quark speaks of the strange (no-dance) days that occurred in San Diego during the ’90s. He says promoters held after parties between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., and it was illegal to dance. The events were even policed to make sure nothing that could be construed as dancing took place. This spawned a local dance revolution of sorts, says Quark, “Kind of like the Occupy protest — it was the right-to-dance protest.”
One of these protest parties took place on the bay, aboard a party boat called Neptune’s Palace, which was attached to a floating castle you could get ferried to. Quark refers to the event as a “naked rave.” He says he deejayed the non-nude part of the barge, but confesses he did spend some time in the naked castle, although not in his birthday suit. The castle-barge combo had legal problems of its own and no longer exists.
In early 2012, adding to the list of local dance clubs he has been part of, including Playskool, G-Force, and Moonshake, Quark started a night called Skin Tight at the Whistle Stop in South Park. Co-organized by Ethan Hull, the monthly event involves elements of disco, although Quark warns that he tries to stay away from labeling.
“Disco music, to me, means something completely different. The type of disco that I’m interested in is exploring when disco became underground again, back in 1979.” He refers to a history where disco was consciously killed in Chicago, creating a different environment.
“I want to break records that have been favorites of mine...that I never really had a chance to play, and Skin Tight is a perfect avenue to do that.”