31 August 2016

Bad Decisions Wednesday Crew shares how it all started with Trap and Ghetto Rap Music

I remember sheets of rain falling from the sky that Wednesday night. Trudging down the street, my eyes shifted back and forth into unfamiliar territory. I walked a couple more blocks, shuffling my feet forward on the pavement, lost as can be. It was silly of me to look for some kind of sign board, so I asked around, walked a bit more, went back down the same street in La Fuerza, and turned up a block. A couple of steps later, I came face to face with a nook that looked like an abandoned old space, save for the well-lit Mexican inspired food truck that stood next to it. But there were bouncers outside and based on hearsay, this looked like the place. See, on a normal Wednesday night, I would have headed home straight, but tonight was different. After months of hearing about its ratchet-ness everywhere and after countless posts on my timeline of friends and everyone else having the time of their lives here, I was finally about to experience it myself. My senses were tingling with sheer curiosity and excitement. It was my first ever encounter with Bad Decisions Wednesdays.

“We wanted to do the complete opposite. Basically, it’s like making fun of everybody else. We just really really wanted to play ghetto rap music.” - Angelo, Co-founder of Bad Decisions

Words by Arrah Balucating, and photos by Patrick Casabuena

Bad Decisions Wednesdays has become a steady staple in the Manila night life scene for a while now. But back in 2013, would you believe it was an entirely different ball game? It was the year that saw the rise of the Fort (now more known as BGC) club scene. At the time, night life was at an all-time high in Taguig. Everybody was playing funky soul sets and in the months that followed, everybody had this clamor for EDM. No one dared drop a Kendrick Lamar nor did they pine for beats from ASAP Rocky. Angelo, one of BDW’s founders, was not having it. Nope, thank you very much. After all, the trap music movement in clubs was a huge deal in San Francisco, where Angelo was originally based. More than anything, he wanted to bring it here to our shores. He made newfound friends in Manila and they opened Black Market outside of the whole bustling Fort locale. It was a bold move for sure but Angelo’s got more tricks up his sleeve. Alongside PJ, Bad Decisions Wednesdays was his brainchild concept, “We wanted to do the complete opposite. Basically, it’s like making fun of everybody else. We just really really wanted to play ghetto rap music”. With Hypebeast parties in the U.S. as the peg in mind, they outlined the whole thing at a local Starbucks. By the time the night was over, Bad Decisions Wednesdays was born and ready to roll out.

Meet Angelo. He curates all the cat videos and booty shaking videos you see projected on the screen.

(Photo by Goks) Meet PJ. He sets the mood for the night on a weekly, providing the latest tracks and the freshest artists. In addition, he also does a lot of the social media blasts. And on slow nights, he's the person to count on to start up the tequila shots. 

Meet Meme. She organizes the team’s brain farts and then makes it a point to distribute it to people.

Why the ghetto trap theme on a Wednesday when it could be on any other day, you ask? Apparently, Black Market’s early days had the humpday as the weakest sales night. It was secretly the icing on the cake because a low foot traffic meant they had nothing to lose. The Bad Decisions crew had little to no restrictions with their wild ideas, and they had the liberty to do whatever they wanted. On its first few nights however, nobody really got the memo. Bea, who was absorbed as part of the BDW crew, shares stories from the early days, “It started like, every week, it was just us. There was just like 10 to 30 people here every time. I was dancing alone”. The first few nights quickly turned into a year but they still weren’t making much. The first year was just about breaking even, Bad Decisions had a long way to go still. It was word of mouth and social media that eventually broke the dry spell.

Meet Bea. She basically dances around and gets people drunk, and does promotions as well.

Meet Zac. He creates Bad Decisions Wednesdays’ recap videos. Yep, the crazy ones you see online.

What kept people coming back for more was the raw energy it pulsated. Or maybe it was the fact that Bad Decisions Wednesdays couldn’t be tamed. It was the antagonist to every club concept that has ever been done before. If anything, they were not afraid to push boundaries. They weren’t about playing safe. If some took offense or deemed it unpleasant, then so be it. For instance, take a good look at their promotional posters. It’s anything but proper and put together. In the beginning, Angelo shares how it was because he had no time to make apt posters that resembled what everyone else was putting out. But in the end, the novelty worked out for their overall branding. Their promotions even extended further on to clothing merch. And they’ve done quite a number of collaborations with a curated list of local streetwear brands that already have quite the following. You’ve got independent brands like We Legendary, Team Manila and CrooksnCastles or the bigger, more established like Nike. The first piece of clothing given out were panties with Angelo’s face on them alongside a Bad Decisions logo. The people went crazy and the next thing they knew, they were making a regular limited run for merch at least once a month. More recently, they did a couple of aprons and towels. The best part is that they would just give it out—20 to 50 pieces tops. It’s a keepsake of sorts, proof of a solid night you’d probably remember for decades to come.

Meet Ninyo. He’s the one booking the DJs and finding new talent. He’s also the go-to-guy when it comes to handling partnerships with local streetwear brands.

The next thing they knew, Bad Decisions Wednesdays was becoming a household name. The 30 people that used to come on a regular basis doubled, tripled, quadrupled in number. Suddenly it was packed, a full house every single Wednesday night. And then, it was more than just club night. Bad Decisions Wednesdays began to have a life of its own. It’s got its own website, its own online radio counterpart, a Tumblog with features on local designers, local musicians, and local stores. There’s even a magazine publication in the works. Slowly but surely, it began to become an authority on Manila urban culture for the youth.

With every week showcasing different sides of lit, it’s hard to come up with just one wild story. But I had to ask. What night stood out so far in the BDW crew’s book of crazy? It had to be that moment in time when Black Market was basically turned into a strip club of sorts. It was for Shit Show Year 1 back in 2014. In every sense of the word, the first anniversary is a milestone in itself. They flew in strippers from Japan, complete with a pole and a stage. They even asked someone to make fake money with their faces on it.

Bad Decisions Wednesdays is a night full of moments that are too epic to let pass. The new surprises and shenanigans, however, are just piling up. For instance, they’re planning on bringing Bad Decisions out of Black Market more. It started with Shake That AssKARA, the BDW version of the Maskara Festival in Bacolod. Right now, what’s on their mind is going regional. Also, a worldwide takeover where they do pop-up Bad Decisions Wednesdays in other countries and maybe adding a few more cities locally. But despite the bright future and the brimming success, the BDW crew remain a humble bunch. Angelo sums things up, “We’re underachievers. We’re kind of surprised that this thing actually worked, we were surprised that people actually liked it”.

The night was still young when I capped my talk with the Bad Decisions crew. I checked my watch and it read 10 p.m. The party was just about to start. Despite the rain, the lines outside were getting thicker by the minute. Inside was a different story altogether. It felt like being transported to another dimension where time and space didn’t exist. They say a typical night here is sweaty, slimy, dirty, and grimy. And while all of the above is true, I beg to differ. Because despite the packed bodies you bump into as the night soldiers on, despite the momentary loss of air, despite the cramped space, what you’ll remember most upon leaving the place is this: Bad Decisions Wednesdays was the night you got stupid and let your hair down. It was the night that you had raw unadulterated fun with ghetto beats as the soundtrack of your life for hours on end.

And as the Wednesday night broke into early Thursday morning, Kanye West was playing. As if on cue, everyone was singing along and dancing, putting their hands up, putting their drinks up. And I remember thinking to myself, it’s for moments like this that I live for. All hail Bad Decisions Wednesdays, indeed.

For more info about Bad Decisions, visit their website or Facebook page.


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