The Roots of the Phoenix Underground (1987-1994)


by Ron Fernández

Before EDM… Before Techno… Before Trance… Before Raves…

There was the Underground.

In the center of it all was one man who spearheaded it with a global perspective.

Blaz Gallegos

Phoenix’s Underground (Five years before the Rave scene) would come to rival the scenes in New York and Los Angeles.  Pulsating with fresh beats and visual decor, the Underground events thrust revolutionary art to the forefront and introduced the straight world to the gay world. From then on, the two worlds would be inseparable.

Were as the Rave scene followed other cities Blaz had one mission in mind

“To create something so different that others from around the world would have to come to Phoenix to experience it”.  At its peak Blaz’s events did achieve this notoriety.

Setting down with Blaz you quickly find that the Underground was more than merely a loud sound system and mindless visual stimuli. In-fact each event had its own unique theme. The “Room’ events (Red, Green, Private) were impaired by director  Krzysztof Kieślowski. The letter series such as “C” was a social commentary “Compliantly Contrast” a look into life and death, war and religion. CHUPA where he and Mark Del Garza fused the Latino East LA house music scene with the party monster / bondage scene of West Hollywood.

In the late 1980’s, downtown Phoenix was a violent, economically depressed region, block after block of boarded-up buildings. Yet the real development was about to begin. With portable generators and electrical ingenuity warehouses (Some still in use by manufacturers and others that were completely abandoned.) were transformed into Art galleries and all-night dance events.

With names such as  Gallery X, Groove, the Room, Funktion, Chupa, and Fro-N-Down a very simple business card with a date and address was your only invite.

“If you were Hip enough to know, you were cool enough to go” Blaz Gallegos

Along with its permanent influence on the global underground scene Phoenix’s underground also brought out the best of the DJ world from Sandra Collins, Z-Trip, Eddie Amador, Markus Schulz, to DJ champion Albert Lineses.

Along with the logistical challenge of turning an empty abandon warehouse into a functional event, drama lurked in the dark corners of the scene, From fending off the homophobic police with eccentric over the top flaming gays acting as flamboyant music video producers to having mob style sit downs with club owners (who were losing customers to the vibrant, unpredictable Underground.) Blaz Gallegos had many obstacles to tend with.

To kind of at heart the scene got too wild and too weird. It went too far. Live sex acts crept in during the wee hours. Decadence held court.

With its own popularity and the help from the Club owners (Even from live radio broadcast) the frazzled Phoenix police force jockeyed to shut it all down.

The clock was ticking. Soon the tame and (the “Just like LA mentality”)  after-hours and the rave scene would take center stage, while the inimitable artistry of the impromptu nightlife disappeared. Like a supernova, the scene would burn ever so brightly before being snuffed out.

But for one shining moment, before everything looked and sounded the same in pop culture, the legendary Phoenix Underground charted a new course for Art, music, and social diversity.

This is a look at the roots of the scene… And a shout-out to where it all came from.

Copyrights – in part or full by Allen Nalasco 2010 contact for embed request