First Friday isn’t the only noteworthy double-digit birthday this week. On the very same day, another downtown institution hits the big 1-0, one that played Pied Piper to Fremont East similar to the way First Friday did for the Arts District.
“The Get Back” remains the signature afterparty for First Friday, a cross-cultural phenomenon that not only bridged the hip-hop and indie-rock cultures in Vegas, but initially drew post-artwalk revelers to an area most considered too blighted to visit. “’The [Get Back’] was the first exposure for a significant amount of people to downtown nightlife early on,” says founder and resident DJ John Doe.
But even though “The Get Back” and First Friday share a birthday, they weren’t birthed from the same conception. Doe threw a one-off in 2001 actually called “The Get Back,” but it wasn’t held downtown. He had his eyes set on the Thunderbird Lounge, and once the Aruba finally said yes, Doe revived his soul ’n’ funk hoedown there on Oct. 4, 2002. One of the 250 attendees was Cindy Funkhouser, a co-founder of First Friday. The two synced up shortly thereafter, and “The Get Back” became the official afterparty in time for the next First Friday.
“I think the ethos of the two events are similar,” says Doe. “Both events foster creativeness and expression, as well as a break from the norm and a ‘come as you are’ attitude.”
Party loyalists and early First Friday supporters kept the throwdown relevant. But attracting anyone else took effort until the event moved to the since-shuttered Icehouse a year later, where Doe says “The Get Back” hit its stride. Funk saxophonist Jimmy Castor played the first anniversary party. It remained at that venue until shortly after the opening of the Beauty Bar, then the lone attraction on Fremont East. “The Get Back” relocated there, and it highlights the Beauty Bar calendar to this day.
For the 10th anniversary, Doe has booked Melo-D of the World Famous Beat Junkies turntablist crew, along with nearly all of the local residents that played “The Get Back” over the years. Ten years is a long time for a party, but it’s hard to imagine First Friday without its midnight soulmate.