“This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to play every genre I’ve ever played all in one night. I really am excited about that. I keep telling people the coolest thing about what I’m going to do here is that it’s going to be everything. And I don’t think I’ve ever had a gig where I could do that.”
Rob Sherwood is learning back on the plush red stairs of a room tucked away in the Halcyon Lodge; a glare reflects off his glasses as he angles his camera phone, one eye squinted with a furrowed brow that reminds anyone in his presence: he is a man of his craft. He snaps photos of the room he’ll be DJing in for Bal Ingenieux to send to Ben Sota, artistic director of the folk art acrobatic troupe Zany Umbrella Circus, who he plans to collaborate with for a mix of sound and visuals at the fundraiser.
Sitting feet away from pillars that connect ceiling to stairs, the space mirrors Sherwood’s stories of spinning at the hot spots like Aquilon that made him a legend of Cleveland nightlife. “There was a 19-piece big band, old people in tuxedos and hipsters dressed to the nines until the freight elevator doors opened and the kids poured in,” he says. “It was the coolest mix.” He speaks with the most affection about the alternative scene that was the Nine of Clubs but even when recounting one of his most decadent residencies, U4IA, he remarks, “It was a time everyone could do their own thing and not step on anyone’s toes. That was every club I did. It was just really inclusive; people came to look at freaky but not to pick on it, or make fun of it, or cause trouble.”
“THAT WAS EVERY CLUB I DID.. PEOPLE CAME TO LOOK AT FREAKY BUT NOT TO PICK ON IT, OR MAKE FUN OF IT, OR CAUSE TROUBLE. “
It’s in the midst of relaying his memories of throwing the city’s first raves and the excess, lavish and luxury that his face breaks into a coy half-smile and he says, “But the people who came to support me on a funky Tuesday night were ten times as cool as the people who came to the Saturday night party that was the big thing.” If the Kokoon Arts Club that Bal Ingenieux is inspired by marked a turn-of-the-century bohemian art community, Sherwood may have been their reincarnated hero of the new wave underground.
Sherwood left to pursue his career in New York and will tell you with a laugh that he came back to Cleveland on accident. “I went to New York and lived every single DJ dream I ever had,” he recalls, “All of my heroes were coming out of the studio at night saying, ‘I just cut a disc, I want you to play it’ – my heroes. Not just some guys, my DJ and producer heroes. Every club I ever dreamed of wanting to work at, I worked at.”
IF THE KOKOON ARTS CLUB THAT BAL INGENIEUX IS INSPIRED BY MARKED A TURN-OF-THE-CENTURY BOHEMIAN ART COMMUNITY, SHERWOOD MAY HAVE BEEN THEIR REINCARNATED HERO OF THE NEW WAVE UNDERGROUND.
Even for someone who made a name for himself in a culture based on breaking rules, in true DJ form Sherwood’s greatest excitement about Bal Ingenieux is having no restrictions, no rules or style guidelines to what he has to play. “This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to play every genre I’ve ever played all in one night. I really am excited about that. I keep telling people the coolest thing about what I’m going to do here is that it’s going to be everything. And I don’t think I’ve ever had a gig where I could do that.”
Rob Sherwood DJs Bal Ingenieux, May 4 at the Halcyon Lodge, from 9:30 P.M. until 1 A.M.
Ingenuity’s mission is to ignite the creative spark where the arts, science, and technology intersect. By animating Cleveland’s urban spaces with world-class, innovative experiences, Ingenuity provides a unique platform to explore the boundaries of art and technology.
To purchase tickets to Bal Ingenieux, IngenuityFest’s fundraiser on May 4, please visit ingenuitycleveland.com/maskedball/.