Dayton’s Garden Station hot spot for EDM
By Wu W.A.N.G.
New to Dayton and looking for the underground, electronic dance music scene? Currently, local DJs, along with promoters and fans of the music, host a weekly event on Sunday at Garden Station, located at 504 E. Fourth Street in Dayton.
The unique open-air green space/park features functioning organic gardens, art scattered throughout and thankfully, port-a-johns. The event, affectionately known as Sunday Funday, is simply a fun day at the park with fun people. Bring a dollar to donate, a beverage or two, food, kids and dogs, but leave the attitude at home. You won’t need it.
Garden Station, formerly a train yard, has been taken over by amazing garden plots that reveal fresh vegetables growing, tiny, kid-size tables perfect for tiny friends, protruding sculptures and small water pools. Walking towards the far end of the park, bass-heavy beats urge me toward the music, but there’s no resisting the opportunity to ponder the meaning of various sculptures along the path and to smell the scent of fresh grass… Or, maybe that was just me.
News flash: The party don’t stop
On this day, one of the hottest in Dayton, I dropped in to get the “lowdown” on this gathering of music fans. What SF is, it lies somewhere between hippy picnic in the park and budding electronic music-driven grassroots activism. A core group has stepped up to ensure that the music is up and running on schedule, and that isn’t always easy. Heavy sound equipment is generously donated by supporting friends who are trusting enough to allow expensive turntables and laptops to be setup outside, subject to Dayton’s random weather. The turntables need to be rigged and speakers strategically placed, in order to achieve maximum sound quality. Word spread through the local DJ network, that Sunday Funday was the place to get a set, if you have the skills. DJs here might share the stage with more well-known guys or girls, who rock the club circuit in close cities like Cincinnati, Columbus and extended locales like Detroit, Chicago or Philadelphia. “EDM is blowing up right now in the music industry,” said Tony DeSaro, one of the key promoters as well as an up-and-coming DJ himself. “We want to introduce more people to the tracks that are less accessible to the masses of music listeners. We plan on having some big names come through to play at Garden Station this Fall, so stay tuned.”
EDM in synch with community
So, just who is coming out for Sunday Funday? “Anyone can come and have a great time and sample my grill skills,” Stephanie Sweet muses. “If you need something to eat, we got you,” she adds while smiling. Stephanie reminds me that she is “serious about using fresh ingredients in order to make good food.”
After just finishing a plate of summer salad along with a grilled burger, I narrowly avoided a stream of ice-cold water pulsing from a water gun, being held by Katy Day. She’s in mischievous mode, chasing kids around the park and struggling not to display the brightest smile. Day, the Sunday Funday coordinator/promoter and all-around party girl, appears to be in her element when it comes to getting things done, with the help of friends. When asked about Sunday Funday’s beginnings she reveals, “It started as a group of friends getting together to cook out, we brought sound gear to a park in Miamisburg, and more of our friends would come out to hear good music or watch their friends DJ. Then the obvious question was asked, ‘Why were we setting up in Miamisburg, when we lived in Dayton?’” Day says. “So, when a crew member discovered that Garden Station was willing to work with us, it made sense that we shoot higher, and the park is so central to downtown Dayton.”
I did mention the extreme heat, right?
Katy and I decided to escape the heat by sitting in the comfort of her car with working AC. We sat having cigs and chatting when Todd Sweet, Dayton-based DJ, sound and gear support and resident SF DJ, walks up to the car window on my side. Rolling down the window like a mobster, I turn to ask him why he thought SF at Garden Station is “catching on” for EDM heads in Dayton. “Sunday Funday is basically the place to be around ‘kind-minded’ people that love music, need to dance and want to enjoy the last day of the weekend,” Sweet said. He explained how doing this event each week ended up being more like work -for no wages. “It’s tough, paying insurance out of our own pockets, buying food, grill items. We only ask for a ‘suggested’ dollar donation, and we don’t expect it to cover what we provide,” Sweet said. “Thankfully, we get this Bohemian community’s support, we get power at the park and we don’t have to lug a generator around,” Sweet muses. It’s finally getting dark out, most of the little kids have dragged their parents away from the park, so now the scene gets more adult-friendly.