Today is Dre Day and everybody is celebrating – the birth of Andre Romelle Young, one of the greatest forces in modern day music and culture. But don’t get this twisted, this isn’t some sort of joke or gag. This is a real holiday and at this point people go all in with it. I spoke briefly with two of the founding members of America’s fastest growing holiday, Wes Winship and Mike Davis of design firm Burlesque of North America .
So how did the idea for Dre Day come about?
MD : Well we all used to be up in the Life Sucks Die offices and in that atmosphere there were always a lot of jokes being thrown about. Around that time (2002) Andrew Broder who was from the group Fog put out his latest 12″ on Ninja Tune called “What a Day Day.” We started talking about the general spirit of that and then someone made the remark “What A DRE DAY.” That set off a discussion of just what if Dre Day was a national holiday? WIthin 5 minutes the blueprints were laid out of what it would be like, and we started making plans for the first ever event.
We had the first discussion in 2002, and the first ever Dre Day was on February 18th 2003. It was held in Minneapolis at 7th St Entry, part of the First Avenue building which is known for it’s prominent role in Prince’s “Purple Rain.” Everyone was celebrating to Dre’s music and we had Dillinger Four play the first show. They did their own music but also some Dr. Dre inspired covers. We also debuted the 20 Sack Pyramid game, which included contestants such as Slug from Atmosphere. We never had any idea of it being more that a personal joke between friends in Minneapolis, celebrating this guy who is such an important figure for our generation.
So when was it that you started to see it spread outside of your own circle of friends?
The first year we put the sticker pack out and they started to get around a bit. Within a couple of Years, Turntable Lab picked up on it and started selling the stickers off their site, and that sped the movement up around the world. People started getting back to us about seeing stickers on a lamp post in Seattle, or the back of a motorcycle in Paris. It was all over. Then Project Matt who is from Minneapolis but had relocated to New York decided to launch the NY satellite which was in 2008. The first was at 205 Club, followed by Music Hall of Williamsburg and now this year at Tammany Hall. Soon after Chicago joined and now there’s official Dre Day events in Philly, Portland, Tampa, Vancouver, Austin, Nashville, and there’s other as well that we have nothing to do with. I just heard about one being held in Missoula, MT. It’s crazy but makes sense, cause you have this guy who has made such an impact on our generation, and he’s a great equalizing force. And to think about how he’s stayed relevant for so long, it’s amazing.
What does Dre Day mean to you?
WW : The it’s the whole idea of holidays, it can be really be anything, but also all these holidays are mostly based on ancient things, and we think that there should be one that is more in line more with something current. But it’s still about celebration. You know, culture keeps moving forward, there’s new shit all the time. So it’s the idea of a holiday that celebrates new culture. Growing up that stuff, the music of Dr. Dre, it strikes a chord with our generation just as much as religion in a sense. People all over the world can get with it.
Where do you see it going from here?
I just want to see it keep growing. I like that there’s parties happing in cities that we have noting to do with. The word gets out and spreads. That’s pretty awesome. The thing is if we can just get it popping to another level, I don’t know. Maybe if Google changes the front page graphic on February 18th then we’ll know we’ve made it. Us guys at Burlesque we’re trying to get our EGOT on. So if if Dr. Dre can get a Tony maybe we can see how that will work with all of us.
So there you have it folks, direct from the brain trust that put this whole thing together. So with that being said, let’s all celebrate tonight, wherever you are. And if you’re in New York, Dre Day 2011 NYC is being held at Tammany Hall where we will be getting down. I will be spinning alongside Egg Foo Young, Nick Hook, Jimmy 2 Times and Project Matt. Yeah… HELL YEAH.
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