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Thursday, May 25, 2017

After 13 years, DJ Soul Sister closes out her weekly Saturday night dance party

Posted By on Thu, May 25, 2017 at 4:30 PM

click to enlarge DJ Soul Sister's weekly Hustle dance party at Hi-Ho Lounge ends May 27.
  • DJ Soul Sister's weekly Hustle dance party at Hi-Ho Lounge ends May 27.
After more than a decade of dance parties set to rare groove and addictive funk and soul pulled from a seemingly infinite stash of vinyl records, DJ Soul Sister's popular Saturday night dance party will no longer be held on a weekly basis.

"I might change my mind in a couple years, but right now, every Saturday is out," she says. "I'm not afraid of change and this is what it is."

Hustle — Melissa Weber's nearly 13-year-old Saturday night dance party — will hold its last weekly edition May 27 with guest DJ Mannie Fresh. It's also the show's 13th anniversary. "Now it's going to be serving two purposes," Weber says.

Hustle will return as a semi-regular event, beginning 11 p.m. Saturday, June 24 at The Orpheum Theater's below-ground space The Ice Pit. Weber also will preside over a monthly "Soulful Takeover" show beginning Friday, July 7 at One Eyed Jacks.
Hustle began as an infrequent event showcasing Weber's love for nearly-forgotten records, turning dance parties into deep-cut masterclasses. The show debuted at Leo's (now Sugar Park) then earned a weekly slot at Mimi's in the Marigny, where Weber balanced her turntables on a table near the upstairs bar surrounded by a packed makeshift dance floor. A single velvet rope (and, sometimes, her outstretched hand) kept the dancers at bay. "The needle hopped every time someone danced too hard," Weber says.

Weber moved Hustle to the Hi-Ho Lounge in 2013, just one week before the party's ninth anniversary at Mimi's, when the bar was among several venues embroiled in a debate over noise complaints and the infamous citywide "noise ordinance." With a larger dance floor, the show attracted larger crowds, often spilling out the doors and into the patio.

Before she brings her crates of records to spin on the stage at Hi-Ho, Weber will return to WWOZ-FM, where she hosts her weekly "Soul Power" show at 8 p.m. She's hosted the show for 20 years, picking up the midnight soul show slot from her predecessor Nita Ketner. Weber won't be giving up her radio gig any time soon.

"If anything that’s the easier thing I do," she says. "I just get to share music ... I once thought to myself, if I’m in my 60s and 70s and not doing weekly Saturdays anymore … at least I can still do 'OZ, or maybe petition to do it all night."

Weber will also host two Prince-related events in June. She hosts the second annual "Revolution: A Prince Celebration," kicking off Prince's birthday weekend at 10 p.m. Friday, June 2 at One Eyed Jacks with The DMSR Dancers and Conga Queen of New Orleans and more. Tickets are $20 in advance and a portion of proceeds benefits Big Class, a writing and literacy program for young students in New Orleans.

Prince Day at the Catahoula Hotel begins 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 7, in conjunction with the release of the Big Class Purple 'Zine, a collection of Prince-themed writing from Big Class students. Weber is joined by Helen Gillet (as DJ Helen Cheller), and there's also trivia and a screening of Purple Rain on the hotel roof.

"I’m not gonna give up the parties," she says. "I live for that and for having people dancing."

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