Inside Out — Diamond Life
On Thursday, June 10, enjoy happy hour in the museum's outdoor sculpture courtyard with tunes provided by Pittsburgh's party wizards, Diamond Life.
Bring your appetite, too! Regional food trucks and a bar created by Café Carnegie offering custom snacks, kid-friendly treats, local beers, delicious wines, and more will be on-site.
While you’re at Inside Out, participate in art-making activities for all ages.
Inside Out events are FREE, open to all ages, have limited capacity, and are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Make a day of it and reserve your timed tickets to visit the museum before or after you enjoy Inside Out!
DIAMOND LIFE "delivering sonic vibrations transmitting boundless energy"
Diamond Life DJs: DZ Party Time, Jesley Snipes
Interview with Lauren Goshinski, Inside Out co-producer
LG: Hi there! Tell me, what does living the Diamond Life mean to you?
DZ: It’s hard to name things. Jesse and I needed a name for this dance night, so I was looking through my tape collection and Sade’s “Diamond Life” stood out because whenever I’d play it for friends they’d always comment they were glad we were together and enjoying the vibe. I wanted to channel that feeling into a larger environment.
JL: I remember Dave saying once that, “Diamond Life is a state of mind”, and I was instantly moved by both the simplicity and beauty of that statement. It conjured the image of someone bopping down the street with a fresh pair of shades, blocking out the haters, without a care in the world. Authentic. Uncompromising. Imperfect, but dignified. THAT is living the Diamond Life.
LG: Before Covid hit, DL had a monthly residency at Spirit, in Lawrenceville. What were you bringing to the table musically that was unique to the city? Who is DL for?
DZ: At some point in my life I started feeling at home on dancefloors and wanted everyone else to feel it, too. I really enjoy sharing what I come across out in the world as a listener. Whatever’s hot on WAMO, a song a friend mentioned they’re obsessed with, something I heard on a Boiler Room mix, when something’s good we wanna hear it. I also listen to a lot of old disco / funk sets so I’ll pull songs from guys like Ron Hardy or WBMX’s “Farley Jackmaster Funk”. I also DJ pop music, because the moment when a group of people all recognize a beat or the vocals and react is a wonderful thing. There’s also some ‘00s nostalgia in there, we had a lot of fun back then right? DJing for me is all about the feeling you get inside when something sounds good. The truly amazing times are when the audience shares it back and it becomes a reciprocal loop. Sometimes I think I’m specifically DJing for the people enthusiastically grinding their front parts on eachother in the back of the room.
JL: Diamond Life is for EVERYBODY! We strive to create a warm and welcoming environment for anyone that wants to gather and celebrate music and life. Something that we realized from years of going to parties, and hanging out with friends, is that people’s taste in music is not one dimensional. Nothing is off limits: Indie, Electronic, Hip-hop, New Wave, Glam, Psych, R&B, Disco, Funk. We pride ourselves on the ability to seamlessly transition between a vast array of styles, while keeping the dance floor energy throbbing from beginning to end!
LG: DL was only a $5 cover, which helped make it accessible to folks seeking an affordable night out. What are some ways people can be mindful of the fact that DJs need to be paid like any other performing artist?
DZ: This is a great question, because I always wanted the most accessible space and did a lot of free parties for years. Our $5 door cover helps ensure DJs are paid something for their work, and is also a way to collaborate with local organizations. We’ve done fundraisers for the Women’s Law Project, PAAR, PGH Zine Fair, and Prevention Point Pittsburgh. This is a great way for us to give a little back and connect with people in a new way. A little financial stability helps the performers and the venue, and by extension all people working late nights in venues. A tip for any young performers out there: throw some cash to the bar staff at the end of the night and they’ll always take care of you.
JL: As a small token of appreciation to our faithful regulars, and a gesture of good-faith to the uninitiated, the first Diamond Life of every year is FREE! Every January, we host a dance party with no cover charge as a meager attempt to repay all of the love and support that we receive. This also creates a low-risk opportunity for individuals who have never experienced the splendor of Diamond Life to dip a toe in the water, and see what all the fuss is about.
LG: Drop some knowledge. What are the sources of your music inspiration?
Or, is there anything you wish people knew more about Pittsburgh music & nightlife?
DZ: There’s so much, I get a little overwhelmed sometimes. My YouTube favorites list is 2,000+ long. Music is one of those things where there’s always more - no matter how much you think you know, there’s always something amazing around the corner. All my favorite dance parties growing up were the queer nights. Everyone felt comfortable enjoying themselves and they were my earliest archetype for a good time on the dance floor. Larry Levan was the first professional DJ I heard who really inspired me. He died in 1992 way before my time, but his song selection, timing, and general positive attitude really made sense to me. Grace Jones is another one who just has this amazing aesthetic - knowing what looks and sounds good is a skill. Arthur Russell’s disco singles are what singlehandedly got me into the genre. Dinosaur L, Loose Joints, and all his other bands and solo work - the guy knew something because his music still sounds fresh today. I also love listening to radio shows, WBMX from Chicago in the 80s is a goldmine, The Dwayne Train on WFMU is a weekly listen. Pittsburgh parties like Bro Club (RIP) were ALWAYS a good time. This is the first place I heard Big Freedia and have a vivid memory of almost dying from dancing too hard. Same thing for SAPPHO, they’ve been going for over a decade and I always love what they’re playing.
JL: How does one calculate inspiration? Let me count the ways: Title Town, Jellyfish, Afroheat, LazerCrunk, Dance Crush, TASTE, all of the wizards over at Hot Mass, Pittsburgh DJs and dance parties of days gone by, all of the ridiculously talented live bands (of which there are far too many to name here)... this is just the tip of the iceberg. We have an embarrassment of riches in Pittsburgh, and we consider ourselves very fortunate to even be mentioned in the same breath with so many phenomenally brilliant artists. We are inspired by each and every one of them, every single day!
LG: How can people help music & nightlife in Pittsburgh recover from Covid, and come back better? Anything on the horizon folks should attend or support?
DZ: I think Covid can be a big reset button for nightlife, a lot of venues have closed or are reconfiguring themselves. This is an opportunity to correct problems and rebuild something better, it’s possible. I do see a lot of places that made it through are making changes, switching to more outdoor events, and other outdoor parties around the city. You’ve got to go away to come back, so let’s not take things for granted. For something on the horizon I’d say look no further than CMOA’s summer series, A+ lineups top to bottom.
JL: The best way to support local music and nightlife is to just come back to events as soon as you’re ready. Diamond Life’s monthly residency will resume THIS MONTH. So, as of Friday, June 25, we will be back at Spirit Lodge waiting for you with open arms.
LG: For you, why is music & nightlife an essential part of culture at large?
DZ: To me music and nightlife are one way people meet or get to know each other. These kinds of interactions have immense value. A city needs a place for people to go out and enjoy themselves. When I moved back to Pittsburgh in 2008, some of the first things that made me want to stay here were the shows and dance nights at places like The Shadow Lounge and Brillobox. I thought, “OK, it can be a lot of fun to catch a great show and then walk home.”
JL: Music, Nightlife, and Culture are inextricably linked… like a three-headed hydra!! All appendages can function independently, yet together, they serve a greater purpose. To permanently remove any of the individual components would cause irreparable harm to those that remain. 2020 is proof of this. Music didn’t stop getting created, but without nightlife, culture suffered tremendously. Without culture, music eventually dies. When symbiosis is disrupted, the fragile ecosystem is thrown into disarray, and we are all worse off as a result. However, the social calendar is slowly starting to fill back up. Homeostasis is returning. Nature is healing.
LG: TRACK ID. Name a track you’re rinsing right now, that we might hear at CMOA.
DZ: Greg Phillinganes - Behind the Mask (Planet, 1985)
JL: The Avalanches - Because I’m Me (XL Recordings, 2016)
LG: Describe a Diamond Life night or your sound in 5 words or less :)
DZ: Unlimited Capacity For Love
JL: Sonic vibrations transmitting boundless energy
About the Artists:
Diamond Life is an inclusive dance party for you and your friends hosted by Pittsburgh party wizards, DZ Party Time and Jesley Snipes.
About Inside Out:
Inside Out is Carnegie Museum of Art’s new outdoor summer event series celebrating and supporting Pittsburgh’s rich cultural landscape. Running from June 5 through September 4 on Thursdays from 4-8 p.m. and Saturdays from 12-5 p.m., the museum is partnering with over 28 regional artists and small arts organizations to transform the museum’s outdoor Sculpture Courtyard into the season’s go-to destination with a robust schedule of pop-up performances, DJs, art-making activities, local food trucks and beverages, kid-friendly treats, and more. See the full schedule of events here.