Throwback Is Comin' Back

Pirate radio, a Holiday Inn that isn't, lots of cops, and cagey promoters

Due to the pirate nature of his radio show, DJ Showtime does a little bunny-hopping around the FCC. So last Sunday, he's on 89.7 FM. On Monday, he's nowhere to be found. Tuesday, around lunchtime, he's bounced over to 89.1 FM and is playing the latest Trina single. She's rapping about ladies getting their own. "Niggas ain't shit with their dick and balls," she insists.

The rest of the afternoon, Showtime, one of the uncertain number of DJs working at this protean radio program, spins aggressive Southern hip-hop: the dirty thumping crunk of a Confederate apocalypse, the kind of beats that you beat someone up to. "If you don't give a damn...," Lil Jon barks on the YoungBloodz nihilistic single "Damn," "then we don't a fuck!" His anarchic scream is terrifying.

Showtime loves that jam. He plays it at least three times a day, rapping over the hook and sometimes the whole track. When he's not singing through songs, he stops the music mid-rap to take requests, talk about girls as fat as Trina, and tell someone named JC to get his act together and call the station. It's entertaining but can be irritating, especially when you like what he's playing: "Just let it run, nigga," a caller demands.

"You got it," Showtime responds and starts the track over.

By the first chorus, Showtime's shouting again:

"It's going down this Friday night, 'Throwback Friday' at the Holiday Inn brought to you by Jamaitian [Entertainment] and New Money Entertainment. Live bands. All ages. Be there... Now turn the volume up on this motherfucker!"

Wednesday through Friday: He's broadcasting live on 89.5 FM. With increasing regularity, Showtime cuts into his usual mix of Pastor Troy, Lil' Flip, and J.T. Money to remind us that you'd better be at the Holiday Inn after the Blanche Ely/Stranahan High football game.

According to Showtime, it's the only place you need to be Friday night.

Callers are confused. When? Where? What Holiday Inn?

"Bitch, I told y'all the one on Powerline and Commercial," he repeats. "Across from Miami Subs."

Finally, September 12, 2003. Throwback Friday, a celebration of old-school NBA jerseys. Somehow, Showtime will get his listeners out of their houses to the hotel. Indeed, in South Florida, the American mecca of pirate radio, he's just one of many outlaw DJs who skitter across the dial to play illicit marginalized music and attract listeners to parties. Hundreds of stations broadcast from back rooms, honky tonks, and even cars. Authorities, who earn megabucks from radio station licenses, trawl the streets looking for them and in recent years have closed down as many as 20 in a single month in the region.

Friday's event was the first of at least two held at the hotel. It would include lots of black performers, lots more patrons, and quite a few police cruisers.

Around 10 p.m. comes the jump-off. Showtime's talking shit from his makeshift studio. A caller asks for directions to the Holiday Inn in Oakland Park. "It's by the Waffle House, nigga," he snarls, probably looking for a six-hour mix to throw on the air so he too can get to the party.

But the Waffle House is temporarily out of business, so it's easy to miss. The Holiday Inn is also no longer the Holiday Inn but, as of two months ago, I-95 North. So that too is easy to overlook. The 600-plus people hanging out in the parking lot, spilling into traffic, however, are not. A red Chevy, riding high on gold rims, takes a left before the light, breaking through the sea of Air Force 1s. A silver Honda CRV follows closely behind.

For that very uncool/reliable CRV, navigating through the crowd is nerve-racking and embarrassing. Visibly confused, possibly angry faces stare at the white passengers through unfortunately untinted windows.

In a Bonfire of the Vanities moment of paranoia, the Honda brakes. If the driver runs over anyone, especially that 6-year-old girl who just won't move out of the way, there seems to be potential for a riot of Rodney King-sized proportions. This is not a particularly overwhelming feeling, and it is probably as misguided as the person who brought a 6-year-old kid to the party in the first place. But with empty bottles of Remy and Hennessey tossed about and the most racially charged, sexually-aggressive, bass-thumping music the South has to offer rumbling through every subwoofer, anything seems possible.

The fear passes as the CRV eases into a spot next to a sparkling blue Impala with a spotless white interior. It's something to behold.

Dee, owner of that beautiful blue machine, and his buddy, T, are sporting Clippers and Celtics throwback jerseys, respectively. Dee's throwback matches his ride, which matches his Air Force 1s, which match his umbrella which, it goes without saying, is the type of color-coordinating of which dreams are made. Although T's jersey is not technically a throwback, it does complement his metallic money-green Caprice with custom green upholstery, which, as it happens, subtly highlights his limited-edition Heineken Air Force 1s.

It's 11 p.m., and Dee's still relaxing by his car, two-waying some lady he knows. He's not going inside. She is.

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