Carlisle McQueen grew up fast in New York City—making her debut on the dancefloor of Studio 54 at the tender age of 5. She’s been staying up past her bedtime ever since.
Nightcrawling through pre-Guiliani New York, Carlisle developed a relationship with music that transcended scene and genre. Even on school nights, Carlisle was often out shaking her rump at Danceteria, Limelite, Area or The Tunnel. On Saturday afternoons you could find her moshing at a matinee at CB’s, high on glue and spray paint fumes. The DJs and the music makers were as gods to her, spinning threads of fate through the club—moving bodies, moving time. She could never imagine claiming that power herself.
In 1991, Carlisle McQueen packed up her platform shoes and her 45 collection and moved to Ann Arbor to attend college at the University of Michigan. Far from the mania of her hometown, she hoped to hide out from the night life and get her education on—little did she know that a mere 26 miles away, the city of Detroit was had birthed a scene that would school her in a different way altogether. Her curiosity piqued by a flyer she got from a mysterious girl in her Great Books class, Carlisle decided to skip out on a sorority rush. Borrowing her roommate’s Pontiac, she drove to the warehouse district of Detroit where, according to the flyer, a DJ named Derrick May was playing. Despite her famously bad sense of direction, Carlisle easily found the warehouse in question—and into the future she walked.
Majoring in comp. lit. by day and raving by night, Carlisle learned a thing or two about the synthesis of mind and body. She knew music, she knew language, she knew how to dance. Damn! She wanted so bad to get behind those turntables, but she was too freaked out by the army of boys crowded around the decks every time a party went off. In ’97, Carlisle left Michigan for good, returning to NYC to make her way as a journalist, writing about music a whole bunch, but rarely dancing to it.
Then she met man named Walker, whose sole possessions were a Fender jazz bass and an mpc 2000— his first gift to her was a pair of 1200s and a mixer. It was love. But hold up! The dancefloor would still have to wait a few more years for Carlisle McQueen to get her shit together, because in the fall of 2000, Ms. McQueen gave birth to a baby boy. Married, a new mama and newly relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico, Carlisle finally began to eyeball those 1200s she’d hauled with her from the East Coast. She began began mixing here and there—mostly on the old house records she’d brought with her from NYC. Pretty soon she had a style happening—all those years of ass-shaking were finally amounting to something! Her shit was eclectic, her shit was bumpin’! Even before she got her skills she had entire rooms moving to her sound.
In early 2004, McQueen was awarded the Thursday night residency at Santa Fe’s Southside Cantina—she named the party “Ladyfriend,” a name that’s acquired certain significance as the night’s gained momentum. “People are always reading something into that name,” says McQueen, “Basically, for me it’s about: I’m a lady and these are my friends! But there’s another piece of what it means to be a ladyfriend, which is that you are an individual who upholds the woman, be you male or female. That’s what the name has come to mean for me.”
McQueen’s gritty-yet-soulful mix of tech house, funky house, stankity-ass breaks and dreamy italo stylings, have been permanently imprinted on the bodies of Southwestern party-goers and, together with her featured guests, she’s made Ladyfriend THE party of the week.
Carlisle’s other projects include DawnTreader, a production company she started with Walker, her husband, and international wax addicts DJ Melanie Moore, Paul Feathericci and Sattva Ananda. And if you can’t find Ms. McQueen behind the decks or at her writing desk, then she’s most likely at home, playing Robin to her four-year-old boy’s Batman.