BearDance 2022 (Photo by Chad Mantooth)
The DJs of Thunderpuss continue their reunion headlining BearDance
RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer
In its usual fashion, BearDance will host a marquee DJ for its annual dance event. But this year, organizers proved to have impeccable timing.
Riding high off their reunion as Thunderpuss, Barry Harris and Chris Cox have been taking their beats to the people with live performances.
Since getting back together for its Whitney Houston project, Thunderpuss will now give the bears something to purr about right here in the Dallas Gayborhood.
BearDance: Angels and Demons goes down March 17 at Station 4 during Texas Bear Round-up.
Thunderpuss’ resurgence wasn’t expected to be what it is today, according to Cox. Basically, they were looking at a one-and-done type of situation. But when word got out the DJs were reuniting, things went a different way.
“This wasn’t really in the plan,” Cox said by phone. “We were just gonna do the one record. But when the cat was out of the bag, people started inviting us to play. We hadn’t planned for a whole series of things to happen.”
Harris and Cox first teamed up in the late ’90s, remixing and producing many of the top pop divas’ hits for the dancefloors. Gay clubs couldn’t resist their hot mixes for Christina, Madonna and Britney. Their signature remix turned out to be Whitney’s “It’s Not Right, But It’s OK” that she would use in performances.
Their catalog and work kept going until they disbanded in 2003.
When the biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody came out last year, it made sense Harris and Cox would come together for one more Whitney tune. The bigwigs thought so, too, and put things in motion.
“Hosh Gurelli, who was formerly of Arista records and worked with us on ‘It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay,’ reached out to us last fall 2022 and coordinated it with Pat Houston and Clive Davis and Sony Music,” Harris said. “It was his idea to reunite Whitney and Thunderpuss. He reached out to both of us and asked if we’d consider doing a Thunderpuss mix again together.”
Houston’s songs were used to help the story’s narrative along, but the filmmakers did want to add something fresh if possible.
“When they started this movie, they were trying to include anything that hadn’t been released,” Cox said. “We heard about this performance in 1994 she gave at an AIDS benefit concert, and it was just an amazing performance at her peak.”
Using today’s technology, they extracted the vocals, and Harris and Cox created “Don’t Cry for Me,” a whole new track by Whitney Houston.
Cox described the experience as coming full circle.
“It is just that. Most of my career comes from that one Whitney record, so I do owe my career to her,” he said.
Since the movie came out in December along with the song and soundtrack, it has been a whirlwind for the producing/remixing team. Harris described how he sees the differences between then and now — not just for Thunderpuss but for music in general.
“The times and the musical influences are completely different,” he said. “The first time around in the [aughts], there were still record stores, and the New York club scene was thriving. The digital age, the internet, streaming, social media in general has changed everything since then.
“But Thunderpuss often had a variety of sounds, so I don’t think Thunderpuss is all that different this time around in 2023.”
The two DJs are not strangers to queer clubs because of their dance catalog. Dance divas and club mixes are pretty much what keep those dance floors going. That legacy is hardly lost on the artists.
“You don’t realize it while you’re working on things. You just go with the flow and the times,” Harris said. “I am forever proud of the work that we did and the awesome chemistry and work groove we were both running with at the time. Exciting times indeed.”
Cox added that he loves the idea of the bear community coming together this way to dance the night away to all of Thunderpuss’ music (and then some).
“I see the same with Deadheads or ravers — when you find that tribe, you want that feeling to keep going,” he said. “I know I like the feeling I get when I’m around my people, so I can see it here with the bears for BearDance.”
BearDance is open to the public with proceeds benefiting area LGBTQ nonprofits. Tickets are available at BearDance.org.
BearDance: Angels and Demons will be headlined by DJs Barry Harris and Chris Cox, also known collectively as Thunderpuss. The two will reign over the main dance floor at Station 4, but the March 17 event has a lot more going on, too.
Drag Race queen Gottmik will headline the Rose Room. Superfans can purchase Premier Access to the show that will offer premium reserved seating and a meet-and-greet with her. However, Premier Access will be done in a silent auction format where the top bidders will win the seats and fastpasses. Bidding starts at $100.
While Thunderpuss headlines BearDance, two other DJs will be dropping beats left and right. The night will also include sets by Thee Filth and Dr. Beard.
In BearDance tradition, its Opposites Attract mixer will kick off at 8 p.m. This mix-and-mingle event is for all the bears and for all those who love them. SalemMoon will host the event.
For more information, visit BearDance.org.