Modern Love bringing Pressure Drop into present

Modern Love bringing Pressure Drop into present

When Des Moines’ wildly popular, all-vinyl dance party Pressure Drop ceased its monthly recurrences at the Beechwood Lounge last year, it left a hole in downtown’s nightlife scene.

The regular Saturday nights of young people packed like sardines in the bar’s basement, sweating to soul and funk records spun by DJ Eight Ten (real name: Jeffrey Eaton), stopped. Eaton packed his 45s and moved to Kansas City. He performed more sparingly in his home state.

RELATED: 18 photos: August’s Pressure Drop

Then, this spring, the DJ resurrected his monthly dance party — this time at the Des Moines Social Club — as Modern Love. It’s still a night of all-vinyl tunes but with a, well, more modern flair. The golden sounds of the 1960s and ’70s gave way to electronic jams with equal dance-ability, but a different venue and feel.

Burned out after years of spinning the same vintage sounds, Modern Love focuses on music released mostly in the last two years, Eaton said. The modern feel allows experimentation: He’s incorporating a guitar pedal and siren effects in sets. The songs, 99 percent at least, still play off vinyl.

The second-ever Modern Love was Saturday at 9:30 p.m. in the basement of the Social Club’s Kum & Go Theater. The expansive, bare basement — slated to host a permanent bar tenant, eventually — features few furnishings other than tables, an ATM and a makeshift bar staffed by friends of Social Club staffers.

RELATED: Hear another side of DJ Eight Ten with Modern Life is War

The cost to get into Modern Love, like Pressure Drop, is free. And while the drink prices at the Beechwood Lounge are by no means expensive, it’s tough to beat those at the Social Club’s temporary bar: $5 wines, $4 mixed drinks and $3 P.B.R. tallboys, perhaps served by the singer of your favorite local band.

Eaton opted to change venues for Modern Love, he said, partly because he wanted bigger space — photographer and frequent Juice contributor Michael Watson has room to run a photo booth there now — but also because he wanted to contribute to the cultural hub the Social Club is striving to be.

“The type of people coming to (Modern Love) are creative people who feel like they’re part of the fabric of Des Moines,” Eaton said. He hopes the party can be a meeting point for artists and entrepreneurs. “Like a dinner party, but with dancing.”

So much of dancing involves a shedding of self-consciousness, an ability to feel like you can groove freely without all eyes being on you. Low lights and booze help, but so does a dense crowd of other dancers to get lost in. In that respect, the smaller size of the Beechwood helped Eaton’s dance parties feel a bit more volatile: A lot of people, plus a tiny space equals big energy.

“The cool thing about the basement at the Beechwood is, wherever you were standing you were on the dance floor,” Eaton said. “In a bigger room, people have the option to be a wallflower. But I think that’s a good challenge.”

The crowd spreads out more at Modern Love than it did at Pressure Drop and takes a little longer to find its groove. Few were dancing by 10:30, opting mostly for small talk and nursing drinks over Eaton’s records. By about 11 p.m., though, feet were moving.

“Sometimes it takes a little while for us to hit our stride,” Eaton said that night over the P.A. from his turntables at the center of the room, “but I think we’re there.”

Catch the next Modern Love July 11.

About the Author

covers young professionals for The Des Moines Register. Josh can be reached at or on Twitter via @joshhafner.

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