Competing at 331 ⁄ 3 rpm for charity
For three years, Gabe Vaughn — co-owner of the North Loop vinyl oasis Breakaway Records — has straddled two worlds. Since 2007 he has spun records with Soul Happening — formerly Waxploitation, a collective of Austin DJs who serve up the best in ’60s and ’70s funk, inciting sweaty grooves and riotous dance parties for more than 10 years. And he also queues up records as a DJ for and founder of the Second Sunday Sock Hop, a monthly dance party at the East Austin hipster stronghold the Shangri-La, showcasing the best of ’50s R&B.
All that time, Vaughn has stood at the nexus of Austin’s two finest — and competing — soul-spinning DJ outfits and watched as barbs have been thrown and challenges issued. But today, the long-standing rivalry come to a head with the two groups facing off in an oldfashioned DJ battle at the Mohawk, as the Soul Happening and Second Sunday Sock Hop DJs host a benefit for the Greater New Orleans Foundation and the Gulf Restoration Network.
“Because both groups have a knack for unearthing the rarest and most danceworthy vinyl ever cut, and because both can steer huge masses into self-induced, sweat-drenched exhaustion, they naturally hate each other’s guts,” reads the event’s Facebook announcement. “… Monstrous egos have repeatedly clashed, even almost to the point of blatant violence.”
OK, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration, Vaughn explains, but the inevitable showdown has been a long time brewing.
“Some trash definitely gets talked, but we’re all just kind of milking it. We’re all buddies,” says Vaughn. “But we have talked for a long time about doing a battle. It’s been on the back burner for DJs from two Austin outfits will go turntable-a-turntable at the Mohawk to benefit Greater New Orleans Foundation and the Gulf Restoration Network. two years or so, because we wanted to wait to do it at a time when it could be bigger than anything either of the groups had done. So when the benefit angle came up, this seemed like the chance to pool our resources and make it huge.”
Rick Daddy, host of the KOOP radio show Excavation Nation, will be master of cer- emonies at the event, which will include multiple rounds with different requirements. Audience participation ultimately will select the victor — and not through the unscientific method of which side can cheer the loudest. Vaughn instead plans to lay down tape on the floor of the Mohawk and have audiences quite literally choose a side.
Of course, because Vaughn will be the sole participant who will spin for both sides, he’s the only DJ guaranteed a victory regardless of which competitor wins.
“That’s true, but it also means I have a guaranteed losing slot, too,” says Vaughn with a laugh. “I’ll be doing both winning and losing. Which seems pretty appropriate.”