Revisit bygone ATX hip-hop hot spot, the Red Fez, with pop up party at the W

For a good stretch of the early aughts, Matt Luckie’s loosely Arabian nights-themed hookah/cocktail bar, the Red Fez, was the place to be for Austin hip-hop fans. On Sunday nights, DJ Kurupt a.k.a Sid Sharda helmed the wheels for one of the hottest dance parties in town. Each week, a diverse and well-dressed crowd showed up to see and be seen and bump and grind the night away.

For one night only, you can relive the magic and madness, as the W Austin’s Rewind presents a Red Fez pop up party on Friday, August 4.

DJ Kurupt will return to the decks alongside DJ Manny and the evening will also feature a set from world music outfit Atash. The event is free, but fancy (and pricey) bottle service is available.

We hit up Kurupt to reminisce about the old days and give us the lowdown on next week’s party.

DJ Kurupt at the Red Fez. Courtesy of Florinda Bryant.

Austin360: When did you launch the Sunday night hip-hop party at the Red Fez and how long did it run?

DJ Kurupt: I launched the event June 3rd, 2001, it lasted exactly 11 years until June 3rd, 2012 when Red Fez shut down.

How long did it take the party to pop off? Was it hot right from the jump or did it take a while to build buzz?

The buzz wasn’t instant, I had a few college friends that would show up every week and bring friends.  It took about 6 months for people to start showing up that weren’t my friends.  By month 12, there was a line around the old Antone’s every Sunday.

Why did it work so well? What was it about that spot at that particular moment in time that made people want to be there?

It was really a combination of things.  I’d like to think it was the music, but it was more than that.  It was a night of such a diverse group of people, people enjoyed that dynamic.  Hip-hop at the time (and to a large degree now) were only in certain venues, with certain pocket groups.  It was the first time that I’ve seen in Austin where all types of people could come and enjoy the music.  Also, the decor of Red Fez, and largely the layout with the stage being dead center of the venue helped a lot as well.  It was intimate.

Courtesy of Sid Sharda

What are the top five songs that were regularly in your playlist?

JAY-Z – “Interlude (P.S.A)”
UGK – “Choppin’ Blades”
Sister Nancy – “Bam Bam”
Clipse – “Grindin'”
Nas – “Made You Look”

Any celeb sightings or memorable moments that stand out to you?

I rarely knew when celebs were going to pop up unless they contacted me directly, or I got word from their management.  Any time there was a live show in the city that fell on a Sunday, I made a point to reach out to anyone connected to get the artist or celeb in there (it helped that there were no other Sunday day/night parties at the time).  Everyone from John Legend to Benicio Del Toro, the Wilson brothers (Luke & Owen), Antoine Walker (Boston Celtics), Chamillionaire, Paul Wall, Bun B, Busta Rhymes and too many others to name.  A favorite memory of mine was when Bushwick Bill of the Geto Boys popped up, stood on my dj booth and did his verse to “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”.  Epic!

What should people expect for the pop up event? Will it have a throwback vibe?

Recently W Austin launched a 90’s night, taking place every Friday, that plays on the nostalgia of the era. This Red Fez pop-up is a one-night-only theme for the hotel’s 90’s night and absolutely will have a throwback vibe – and we’re doing our best to pay homage to that time here in Austin and make people feel like they’ve been transported back to Red Fez.  Plenty of surprises are in store, you’ll just have to be there!


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