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It’s hard to be unhappy when Kool and the Gang’s “Open Sesame” is on. There are a lot of factors to Do You Wanna Boogie, which is thrown perennially at South Bowl, that make for the best of moods. It’s a rooftop party. There are always drink specials. There’s no cover, despite people telling the DJs there should be. It runs from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., so yeah, it’s sunset disco. DJs Francisco Collazo and Del drop funk, soul and R&B in the mix too.
Collazo and Del started Do You Wanna Boogie in 2008. Collazo, a Wilmington native, moved to Philly to DJ. It wasn’t far; he knew the city from attending raves as a teen, and the raves influenced his career choice. He co-founded Sundae, the longest running Sunday dance party in the city, according to Complex. This Father’s Day, the two will host a mash-up party at City Tap House: Do You Wanna Boogie on Sundae, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Do You Wanna Boogie was launched in Miami at the Winter Music Conference. Collazo and Del did dates in other cities, took the party to Mexico even, but didn’t do an edition in Philly until last year. The party doesn’t have a set week or day. It’s one of those things where you watch Facebook for it. “People say we should try to do it weekly or monthly. But we like to keep it special.” says Del.
Collazo loves playing disco in part because of the history. “That’s where dance music came from. The DJs, the nightclubs. They were the forefathers of EDM, the underground house scene, or even the warehouse scene. That’s where the culture started,” he says. “You always got to know where you came from to know where you’re going.”
Del deejayed for the first time in 1978. His brother Jimmy Del Femine, who was recently honored at the Legends of Vinyl Awards, was a pioneering club lighting engineer. One of the DJs at a party Del Femine was working backed out.
“Back then there wasn’t 1,000 DJs,” says Del. “My brother called me at home. And this was a time— my brother was 15 years older— where people weren’t out. So even though we had an understanding where I knew he was gay, we never talked about it.” He packed his albums and made way to the venue. That night, Del had his DJ debut at a white gay club.
Being Jimmy Del Femine’s little brother, when he was starting out, other DJs would let him up into the booth. They’d pass him extra promo records; he’d sit down and “with a little piece of paper and pencil in my sock, I’d record mixes.” Del beams recounting the memories. Working with his brother, getting to see the rise of house music, techno and early hip hop. He started working in the healthcare industry, moving away from Philly, but still deejaying every now and again. Over the last 15 years, he’s been getting deeper into playing, transitioning from being a development director at Johnson and Johnson to a full-time DJ.
On Sunday, the weather was overcast and at times drizzling. That made things slow in the beginning. But the dance floor began to fill up as the evening progressed.
The crowd is typically all ages. In the span of the party, you can catch the hustle, voguing old way, two steps, bops and break dance. I smile a lot at this party. There’s something very sweet about seeing a baby boomer couple dancing together, giving a twirl, while younger folks groove in their own way.
Most of the hours at Do You Wanna Boogie at South Bowl are sunny and lovely. Our photographer for the evening used a disposable camera, as the sun began to go down. The pictures came back with a dark cast to them. We’re running them because they capture the spirit.