"Torch is unique in many ways," says local disc jockey Taylor Massey, a rookie spinner who recently made a splash at the downtown dance clubs and landed a weekly gig at the Torch lounge at 545 King St. "As lower King Street begins to grow, Charleston as a community is going to be graced with many interesting and unique bars, clubs, retail stores, and restaurants," he says. "We have seen this with Basil, Chai's, and Raval. Torch, however, offers something different. We have the surreal but authentic European atmosphere without the snobby clientele. Torch serves flavored tobacco hookah pipes, common for European and Middle-Eastern lounges, yet foreign to most of S.C. — and it has the music to complement all of the above."
Massey, 24, got his start in the DJ booth innocently enough earlier this year, spinning his own music at house parties and investing in a turntable set-up and gear. He practiced at home and gradually started spinning at private parties for free ... then a few for 50 bucks, then a few more. Before he knew it, he was hooking up with local clubs.
A good friend of Massey's had an acquaintance who helped set up his first gigs at Torch in May. These days, he spins twice a week.
"They gave me a chance and let me spin on a Wednesday night in the beginning of May," Massey says. "The night went pretty well and I was grateful to be asked back as a regular on Wednesdays. Since then, they have added me on to Friday nights as well. They wanted atmosphere and that was what I was able to deliver."
In his early-night sets at Torch, Massey spins a lounge-friendly mix of early bossa nova and '50s jazz, late-'90s down-tempo trip hop, and contemporary lounge. Later in the night, he blends in more aggressive grooves, contemporary funk-soul, and progressive house. Altogether, it's what he calls the "Outernational Underground" — mixes, beats, and atmosphere from all corners of the globe.
"From Hong Kong to Saudi Arabia, Poland to London, New York to Panama, I mix the vibes from every place I have lived, danced, or just listened," Massey says. "I spare no expense in bringing to Torch some of the finest music ever created. When I get behind my tables I have two goals. I want to move your mind as well as your feet."
Born in Texas, Massey starting trekking around the world at the age of two, spending time in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. After some time at Suffolk University in Boston, Massey relocated to Charleston in 2002. He recently finished his college studies at CofC.
"This place is great," he says. "Not only is it a port city, but it's also a colonial city with so many influences from overseas. You can see that when you walk around the historic district. I love it. What I bring to Torch is what I hope Charleston as a whole will soon embrace completely. With so many diverse international tastes, Charleston is truly cultured. However, our local club scene is one of the weakest I have ever seen. I hope to bring a little piece of Europe back here to our small port city. Dance music as a whole is catching on in every major city in the U.S. As the colleges and the tourism in Charleston continue to grow, I hope to see more respect for dance music."