For “Ten Years After”, co-owner and former manager Anthony Dandrea revisits key moments from Ground Kontrol’s 10-year history under its current ownership.
It’s summer 2003, and not much has changed at Ground Kontrol in the barely two months since we took the reins. Most of the arcade floor is still devoted to selling records, VHS and cassette tapes, and bootleg CDs. There has been some progress, though: We’ve torn down Kneel’s old stage and are making plans to build a more customer-friendly one for hosting music events of our own.
For now, though, playing music in the arcade usually means throwing some CDs into a 5-disc changer. Sometimes I play records on a turntable I’ve set up behind the counter, drawing from my DJ collection to give the arcade a retro-electronic ‘soundtrack.’
One night I play a new, somewhat obscure release: “Lifestyles of the Laptop Café” by The Other People Place, an alias for one member of Detroit electro producers Drexciya. It catches the attention of a short, stocky dude who had wandered in earlier. “Yo, man, what track is that?” he says, more or less, and I show him the record sleeve. This dude is Joe Ward, aka DJ Jammotron, and so begins a long and productive musical partnership, and even longer friendship.
We get to talking about our shared love of vintage games and electronic music, especially classic electro and techno. Joe suggests that we host a live and DJed electro-funk music party with the games set to free play, all for a nominal door charge. This would be Ground Kontrol’s first “free-play party.”