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5 Spot's Motown Mondays: "Everyone wants to be here."


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (RHIANNON GILBERT)  --  It’s a Monday night at the 5 Spot in East Nashville. The little barroom is packed with people mingling and dancing to the upbeat sound of artists like The Jackson Five, Chubby Checker and The Supremes.

This is a dance party called “Motown Mondays,” hosted by Reno Bo and Jacob Jones, the DJ duo known as Electric Western. Their aim with Motown Mondays is to give folks a place where they can bust a move to doo wop, garage rock, girl groups and rock ‘n’ roll hits from the 50s and 60s.

“There’s no other party like this in town,” Bo said. “And we’re finding that there aren’t many parties like this anywhere, really.” 

Electric Western is working to change that. Over the past eight years, the duo has gained traction. Now they regularly do Motown events in Atlanta, as well as bookings and music festivals all over the country.

“The music is so timeless, and so joyous. It just spans generations,” Bo said. “You’ll see 21-year-old kids out here dancing with 60-year-old people on the same dance floor.”

If you’re wondering what kind of dance scene keeps people out ‘til midnight on a Monday, the answer is swing. Dancing couple Amelia Boner and Ricky De La Cruz have been attending Motown Mondays for about two years now.

“Everyone dances with everyone,” Boner said. “You don’t have to have a partner, and people are open to teach you the basics.”

Not only are regulars eager to teach beginners, but free parking is nearby and there is no charge to get in the doors, so it’s easy for anyone to come try it out.

“The dance community in Nashville is very welcoming,” De La Cruz explained. “If you’re a beginner, this is a great place to come… It gets really crowded, but that’s just because everyone wants to be here.”

“It’s so hard to leave by the end of the night because I feel like the music just keeps getting better and better,” Boner said. “It becomes more Motown … Even if we didn’t grow up in that era, it’s well-known enough to our generation that people still get down to it without doing any kind of formal partner dance.”

While the dance scene draws people out to socialize, Bo believes that Electric Western also has a platform for Motown listenership with Americana fans. He and Jones are looking forward to the continuation of their new show on WMOT so they can play with more Motown-era hits outside of just the “danceable” beats.

“This music is Americana Music,” Bo said. “Most of it was born in the south – Memphis, New Orleans, Mississippi – and then it spread, organically, to Chicago, New York, L.A. and then eventually overseas. A lot of the stuff we play, I think influenced rock ‘n’ roll bands later, like The Beatles and The Stones…and of course you can’t overstate how influential those bands are to American bands.”

Motown may have had its day around 50 years ago, but it appears that Electric Western and the patrons of Motown Mondays won’t allow this genre to start collecting dust in Music City anytime soon.

To catch Electric Western Radio on WMOT, tune in on Fridays at 7 p.m. For more information, visit electricwesternrecords.com.