Weekly "freeform electronic music night" in Ypsi fosters new talent in welcoming environment

This story is part of a series about arts and culture in Washtenaw County. It is made possible by the Ann Arbor Art Center, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, Destination Ann Arbor, Larry and Lucie Nisson, and the University Musical Society.

Every Thursday night at 734 Brewing Company in Ypsilanti, up-and-coming DJs, VJs, and electronic musicians are invited to spin records and share their talents at an event called The Fallout Shelter.

Jamison Lundy and Danny Villa host The Fallout Shelter, which Lundy describes as "a freeform electronic music night." Lundy, who first founded the event about three years ago, says, "the Fallout Shelter is a place where you can just protect yourself from the fallout of the rest of the world, your workday, your week, and keep all that radiation off you, and dance it off."
Lundy says his original idea was to host one or two fundraisers in support of the Michigan Chapter of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA). He himself suffers from sickle cell disease and says he's "passionate" about raising awareness of the condition.
But the show proved so popular that it quickly turned into a weekly series.
"At first it was just me, and I would DJ for about four hours, non-stop," Lundy says.
Then a bartender mentioned to Lundy that she was interested in learning to DJ. He taught her to spin, and she became the next DJ to perform.
"It just started snowballing," Lundy says. "I thought it was going to be a one- or two-off thing and it turned into a three-year passion project."
Villa says his own involvement in The Fallout Shelter felt entirely natural and inevitable.
"Anytime I hear of something that's going on somewhere with electronic music, I just [have] to poke my nose in there and be like, 'Who's doing what?'" he says.
At his first visit to The Fallout Shelter, Villa says, "What was cool was the fact that it was open forum. It wasn’t just house music. It wasn’t just techno. It was freeform … [and] it was open to anybody who wanted to spin."
At that point, Lundy was trying to do everything himself: DJing, VJing, and working the room, trying to recruit others who might be interested in performing. At 734, Lundy is known for personally greeting every visitor.
"It was a lot to deal with at once," he admits.
But that exuberance is part of what inspired Villa to get involved.
"I tell [Lundy] all the time now — I love the fact that…he remembered my face when I came in the next week [for the second time,]" Villa says.

The Fallout Shelter.
Lundy and Villa are proud of not only the series' success, but also the electronic music community they’ve been fostering in Ypsilanti. Villa says they hope to build a bigger electronic music scene in Ypsi so locals don't have to go to Ann Arbor or Detroit.
"Ann Arbor's [already] got a lot of places you can go," Lundy adds. "I think Ypsilanti can be another hub for electronic music and I think we're getting pretty close to that."
In addition to their weekly shows, Lundy and Villa now host an anniversary show every year. (This year’s anniversary show will take place Sept. 5-7.) At last year’s anniversary party, they hosted DJs from Berlin and Dublin.
"That right there was a big deal to me — to have international talent recognize Ypsi enough to be like, ‘Yeah, we'll come play,’" Lundy says.
Lundy and Villa also still host fundraisers to raise awareness for sickle cell disease. They estimate that last year’s sickle cell fundraiser garnered almost $3,000 for the SCDAA.
Lundy and Villa urge interested DJs, VJs, and musicians to come make their presence known at The Fallout Shelter.
"You come in and you meet us and you hang out with us — we’ll put you on the lineup," Villa says.
"You don't have to know the secret handshake to play," Lundy adds.

The Fallout Shelter, they insist, is the perfect spot for up-and-comers honing their craft.
"Even if you're relatively new, we’ll get you up there … and it's okay to mess up and no one's gonna be like, ‘Oh, that dude train-wrecked,’" Lundy adds.
Villa has his own way of phrasing this: "I’m not gonna tell you when you suck, but I will tell you when you’re getting better."
Lundy and Villa stress that The Fallout Shelter is a very welcoming community for both performers and audiences.
"We do not put up with people being jerks, [and] we do not put up with any kind of discrimination," Lundy says. 
As it happens, last year’s anniversary party was mistakenly double-booked with a meet-up for furries – a subculture built around interest in anthropomorphic animals, often involving dressing up in animal suits.
"We thought, ‘Oh man, they’re going to hate this music,’" Lundy says.
But the night was a success: DJ Agent 99 started playing disco, Lundy says, and "next thing you know, we have a bunch of Fallout people and people in furry costumes dancing."

The Fallout Shelter.
Some of the furries still come by every Thursday night to enjoy the scene, he adds.

"One of them is going to be DJing in a couple weeks," Villa says.
The Fallout Shelter runs from 7:30 p.m.-midnight every Thursday at 734 Brewing Company, 15 E. Cross St. in Ypsilanti. 734 Brewing accepts a $5 suggested donation at the door, "but we don’t turn anybody away," Lundy says. For more information, follow The Fallout Shelter's Facebook page.

Natalia Holtzman is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. Her work has appeared in publications such as the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Literary Hub, The Millions, and others.

Photos courtesy of Danny Villa.
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