Cameron Birdsall and Jon Marzette, KU students and creators of the punk karaoke show Taking Back Mondays are the DJ duo behind the Bottleneck dance party, Assjamz. Cameron and Jon have been involved in the Lawrence music scene since 2012 with their emo/punk band, Sovereign States, but they never expected Assjamz to snowball into the success that it is now. I sat down with the DJs at Louise’s Downtown Bar to talk about their upcoming show.
So how did Assjamz come about? I know it initially didn’t have a name.
CB: Yep, it wasn’t called anything at first. About two years ago, one of the bartenders at the Bottleneck, Mike, had played some music in between the commercials when KU was in the Final Four, and everybody loved it. Mike told us nothing was planned at the Bottleneck for Cinco de Mayo so he asked if we wanted to play some music for whatever crowd came in.
JM: We aren’t DJs, but we said we’ll figure it out. That turned into the first Assjamz. We tweeted and Facebooked, letting people know we were playing music. There was a comfortable 40 people or so, but we drank the bar out of tequila.
I see #ASSJAMZ blowing up on Twitter whenever there is one coming up. Was social media important in getting off the ground?
JM: Absolutely. Twitter, Facebook and word of mouth. That’s it.
CB: And, originally, we didn’t even have our own night. It was usually only after a show that ended early, so you had to just see it on Twitter to find out because we didn’t even know.
JM: After a while, we just kept getting more people, but I think I know the turning point: There was a show where we got a text that there was going to be an Assjamz after some blues guitarist was done playing. We got there and it was a much older crowd. He still had like four songs left and all these young people started filing into the Bottleneck and eventually started chanting, “ASSJAMZ ASSJAMZ,” and the dude was still singing. It was kind of disrespectful.
CB: A bit of a dark mark, but we realized that we needed our own night, so we just took a slot on Saturdays.
So, does Assjamz get pretty sweaty?
JM: Oh yeah. I remember the sweatiest one last summer. Over half the crowd removed most of their clothes. The Bottleneck was dripping, and some of it wasn’t even their own sweat.
CB: Well…that’s the booty sweat.
JM: That’s true; it’s great. I’ve seen it now in real life, and it’s beautiful.
How do you choose the music?
JM: We’re people that like to dance first. We choose most of it from the time when we went to school dances to actually dance.
CB: I like to play the music we used to listen to at middle school mixers: things that were hits in 2004, lots of Nelly, Ying Yang Twins and all that. But if there’s an older crowd, you’ll see some Bell Biv Devoe.
Each Assjamz has a booty-dancing contest. How are you able to do that with such a large crowd?
JM: Well, now Assjamz is almost too big for it. At first, we were just like, “Yeah, come up on stage and twerk a little bit,” and there were usually only like five girls and two dudes.
CB: And bigger it got. It just became chaos on-stage.
You booked a New Year’s Eve edition of Assjamz at the Granada last year. What was your favorite part of that show?
CB: Definitely right up to midnight when we had people just rushing the stage for the countdown and going nuts, with the #ASSJAMZ video playing behind us and the confetti.
JM: Bottles everywhere.
CB: We actually both wept.
JM: It’s true. I’m pretty sure that’s the first time we’ve ever cried from being so happy. I mean, we’re musicians, but we’ve never headlined anything at the Granada, much less sold it out. So, at the end of all that work and preparation, we just cried. It was so great.
The next Assjamz is March 15. Are you expecting a Spring Break crowd?
CB: Yes! “The Ides of March.”
JM: It’ll be a good launch point for people to bounce from Assjamz to their vacation.
Get all the details here and let the ass-shaking commence:
Edited by Hannah Swank
Photography by Quinn Brabender
Graphic by Jon Marzette