Nanoos is next.
Just ask the hundreds of thousands of people on TikTok who have seen him blend footwork types with Dominican meringue. There was a quick but satisfying moment during one of their sets, but it blew up on the internet both in Chicago and around the world. Since Nanoos (born Nancy Bartekian) first posted the clip on the social media platform on December 27, it has garnered more than 800,000 views and gained 3,000 new followers. Many viewers in the comments said they were eager to hear something like this when they went to Chicago.
But Bartekian said viewers shouldn’t expect a repeat of what made it go viral. Nanoos operates in a much more eclectic and internationally vibrant mode for DJ sets.
“What I like to do is go into the unfamiliar, into the familiar,” he said.
Fans can experience this regularly at his rotating party Go Baba Worldwide, a night dedicated to Afro, Arab and Caribbean sounds. He throws the party with his producer, DJ and manager QuJo.
Surprisingly, Bartekian, who has lived in Chicago for eight years, only started DJing last year.
“I went to various bars and clubs and things like that. I saw the night life. And it was super basic, super commercial, it didn’t really fit my particular taste in music,” he said. Bartekian began attending globally themed parties around town, introducing her to an audience interested in hearing voices from around the world. “People actually wanted to go out into the nightlife and find new music, not just people who thought DJs were a jukebox,” he added.
Yet Bartekian, who is Palestinian and Armenian, did not see much representation of Southwest Asia and South Asia at these parties, especially in Arab or North African music. Although he always wanted to DJ, this practice seemed inaccessible and expensive. However, after meeting QuJo and learning from him, he quickly gained this skill. “I had good taste in music and a desire to learn. “I was ready and determined to put time and energy into it,” he offered. “I was very serious.”
His first gig was at Blind Barber in the West Loop in May. Since then, he has begun to establish himself both on the local scene and across the country with his sets highlighting Arab pop songs old and new (along with the classics).
“I am for the people. I’ll mix in whatever I personally love or know people love, but my primary focus is to represent Arab music in the club and make sure Southwest Asian (and) North African people feel safe in these club and bar areas. “They can hear their music being played and feel happy and comfortable,” he said.
The freedom of the dance floor is also important. Contemporary club culture often consists of people standing in the corner and watching others in the room. Nanoos aims to break this trend. “That’s why it’s a mix of Arabic music and Caribbean music or Afro music, with this mentality: We all get together to dance and have a good time, and everyone goes home,” he said.
But the much-needed jolt of energy on the dance floor proved elusive. Chicago’s nightlife scene is small and doesn’t provide many venues for people to party. It was said that his crowds were sometimes too noisy and that he did not understand. “We don’t care about bottle service, we don’t care about standing in the corner and just spending money. “We want to dance and have a good time,” he said.
The new year will focus on finding the right balance while taking the audience on an international journey with its musical selection. He recently launched his own party, A Night with Nanoos, featuring just himself and one other guest DJ. The night focuses not only on Afro, Arabic and Caribbean music, but largely on a blending of global genres. “Music is culture and a story. It tells about what is happening in the world. This is the dance floor. “This is an area of education and responsibility,” he said.
And while she’s not sure social media fits best with her plans, she’s willing to experiment and have fun while taking others along. “That’s what my friends like to say about me,” he said. “’Nancy is for the people.”
A Night with Nanoos featuring BLESSTONIO Jan. 11 at 9 p.m. at Podlasie Club, 2918 N. Central Park Ave.; $5 (ages 21+) www.podlasiechicago.com. Go Baba Worldwide, Jan. 12 at 9 p.m., The Point, 1565 N. Milwaukee Ave.; $10-$20 (ages 21+) thepointchi.com.
Britt Julious is a freelance critic.