RIP DJ Man-X, founder of House Nation Under a Groove

Categories: Obituary
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Courtesy of Facebook

Thomas Spiegel, also known as DJ Man-X, passed away on December 30, 2012, in Miami Beach. He was 47.

A DJ regular at First Avenue, Spiegel hosted his House Nation Under A Groove nights of soulful house music around the Twin Cities, Spiegel also was an investment banker and eventually launched Deep Haven Music, which you can sample here. He was a friend of mine, he was a business partner, he was a teacher, and for one magical night in 1990, a fellow monster truck enthusiast.


I met Thomas at some point in lets call it 1988 (I suck at dates, and order of things so times may be way off but it gets the gist and that's something). He had moved back from New York after doing a House Nation Under a Groove night, and wanted to start doing them here in Minneapolis. He had partnered with Kevin Cole doing some shows and starting their regular Thursday night gig in the 7th Street Entry opposite More Funk. I think I started working with him on the second night of it. It was during that time with my business partner Sonia Peterson (she owned Hair Police, I ran the Gallery and did the events) that together we started doing bigger events late nights at the salon, and eventually turning to what would later be called raves, but to us were just events.

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Remembering Sonia Peterson, chief of the Hair Police and scenester extraordinaire

Most "techno" fans know about Detroit, they know about Chicago, but what they don't know that we had as big a scene here, and we did it all without any press or radio. Because at the time this was the real underground music, you had to know someone to be on the in at all. It was wild, reckless and just barely legal; it was glorious. You have to understand that this was a different era, up until this point you never saw the DJ's name on a flyer, you didn't go to a party unless there was beer, and certainly not to dance -- maybe drunkenly pogo but never dance. In fact dancing after bar closed was a crime in Minneapolis -- seriously. You can thank Sonia for busting that rule up. The point is there was a big secret scene that existed and largely because Thomas wanted to play house music really really loud.

Eventually the band broke up. One-by-one, we all splintered away to do other things, each person moving to the next bright shiny thing (it may sound a tad nostalgic but things did seem much shinier and brighter then). But Thomas always stayed true, he was Deep House through and through. I always admired his ability to find new and interesting threads in the same flag; I wish I had told him that. Over the years we stopped speaking as much, because that's what people do. That said, he has never been far from my heart, because those days have never been far from my memory. We started a small quiet revolution that begat some much bigger ones -- ones that don't even necessarily know about the previous wars. It's the downside of a culture based so much on the" now" that we forget the how, and ultimately the "why."

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Photo courtesy Tony Larson
DJ Man-X at the Cricket Theater in 1990.

I could go on about how many are standing on his shoulders, how many folks who got there started there, or it was the inspiration point to start doing something new. The fact that you can hear techno and house almost everywhere, and can really only hear the alt-rock of the time on oldies alternative. Or that even First Avenue, where it was a fight to get equal rights for dance nights, is more disco than ever. And it's not like he stopped. He was a staple of that deep garage scene, and a mentor to generations of up-and-comers.


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4 comments
theRoyal1
theRoyal1

" It's the downside of a culture based so much on the" now" that we forget the how, and ultimately the "why." "


So sad but so true. rip TS

HNUG_Mike
HNUG_Mike

Chris - those we beautiful words for a man who was inspiring, contradictory, confounding, generous beyond measure, gracious, demanding and particular, steadfast, imaginative and resourceful.  I could continue with adjectives to describe our friend - and we probably saw similar and different sides of him and were probably surprised by each aspect of his life.

Thomas was my friend.  I'm glad that I can say that.  I'm glad he came into my life.  He has now slipped out of it.  I am happy that we were here together.

RIP Thomas

jeffdachis
jeffdachis

You will be sorely missed my friend. I'm sorry you left so quickly.

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