Mel Cavaricci, the artist better known as DJ Mel, is one of the top party rockers in the country. He’s played big stages at Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits Festival, his long-running Rock the Casbah party is an Austin fave, and from 2012-2016, he essentially served as President Obama’s personal DJ.
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But through it all, he kept the gig that launched him, the weekly hip-hop party on Monday nights at Nasty’s that he started in 1996. It ran for 21 years, making it the longest running hip-hop party in Austin by a long shot and a local institution for several generations of ATX hip-hop heads. It also outlasted the vast majority of weekly happenings around the country.
In a post on his official DJ Mel Facebook page Tuesday night, Cavaricci attributed the end of the party’s run to a change in management at Nasty’s, the rugby-themed North Campus dive where he held court. “The place has changed hands and will be something else soon,” he wrote.
He closed this lengthy chapter of his career with no bitterness, saying he “felt okay with it.” Crowds throughout the two decades of the party waxed and waned, and as his career as a world-renowned DJ took off, ironically, the dance floor at Nasty’s thinned.
Instead, he took time to reminisce warmly about the early days.
“When I first walked into that bar, I finally found a place to express myself and cut my teeth as a party DJ,” he said. “Soon, it was packed every week, for many years. What a sight to see – people from all walks of life, crammed into a little room with a mutual love for hip hop. It was amazing.”
He also shouted out the many DJs who shared the stage, the club’s ownership and staff and “all the folks that have walked through the doors since 1996.”
“Your support throughout the years means the world to me,” he said.
In the post he hinted at the possibility of taking “the spirit of Nasty’s” to another location.
But tonight, the thousands of us who worked our bodies into a sweaty mess on the tight packed dance floor, who lounged on the patio and struck up lifelong friendships with fellow hip-hop heads, who lost countless quarters on video games we were too drunk to play, will pour a pitcher of cheap frozen ‘Ritas on the ground in honor of the passing.