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Trapathon keeps monthly hip-hop parties free

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Attendees dance at the second installment of Trapathon in December 2015 at Spacebar, 2590 N. High St. Credit: Courtesy of Anna Maconachy

Attendees dance at the second installment of Trapathon in December 2015 at Spacebar, 2590 N. High St. Credit: Courtesy of Anna Maconachy

A monthly party is giving people the chance to be a trap queen (or king) for a night.

Trapathon features trap music and no cover charge for ages 18 and up, and has been drawing a crowd larger than the venue, Spacebar.

Longtime friends and founders of the event, CJ Townsend and Shawn Khemsurov, a 2005 Ohio State alumnus, said they had talked about starting an event like Trapathon for years. The inaugural Trapathon took place on the eve of Thanksgiving 2015. The pair saw room for improvement in the monthly party scene.

“We were tired of going to clubs and just hearing the same old ‘90s classic tracks, and if you go to some of these monthly events they play the same thing each month, and there’s nothing to that,” Khemsurov said. “You’ve got to keep it fresh.”  

Townsend, who has DJed for every Trapathon, said he spends up to 30 hours in the week leading up to each party researching and choosing what music to play, with the goal of keeping classic hip-hop mixed with newly released tracks. For each event, they also invite local artists to perform live. He described trap music as “just layman’s terms for hip-hop in general.”

“To describe it I would say very bass-driven with arpeggiated hi-hats and an emphasis on the hip-hop lifestyle and culture. It’s motivational hustle music. Just about the everyday grind of becoming your best self,” Townsend said.

The founders said they noticed parties that play a similar kind of music as Trapathon often have dress codes, age limits and high cover charges that keep young people from going. While they are paid by the venue for bringing in the traffic, the founders felt it important to keep the admission free and for ages 18 and up.

“I feel like the vast majority of DJs and promoters are so focused on making money for themselves that they’re killing the culture in the process,” Townsend said.

Khemsurov added, “We’re in that DIY punk mentality, charging little to nothing to get into shows. It’s more about something to do with your friends, to meet more friends. It’s not about the money.”

Khemsurov said that the first Trapathon almost hit capacity, growing to having a line down the block at Trapathon IV in February. The venue can only let in 150 people, and from there let in more people as others leave.

Townsend and Khemsurov said it has been suggested to them to charge a cover or move to a larger building to address the capacity issues. At this time, the founders do not plan to move to a larger space. They’ve also discussed doing more events in Columbus or in other cities under the Trapathon brand.

Instead, they simply recommend that attendees show up early if they want to guarantee a spot inside the building.

“It eliminates the, ‘I’m cool so I’m going to show up at 12:30 (a.m.)’ mentality,” Khemsurov said. “You’re going to get stung on that. It’s about coming early and having a good time for as long as possible.”

The founders agreed that they are happy with the diversity of the crowd that attends the monthly parties. They said they have noticed a growing community of friends who met at Trapathon.

“It’s been great to see people exuding energy in a positive way,” Khemsurov said. “Some music can get kind of dark and violent sometimes, but it’s more about creating the energy. It’s just been good vibes.”

Lance Oyer, a fourth-year in business and strategic communications, attended the first and third Trapathon. He said he felt that it was different than other rap events he had attended before.

“It was cool because there were people from all over the city, not just people in the rap scene or the club scene or just art kids or just punks,” he said. “It’s just a lot of people coming together to hang out and not care what other people think.”

Khemsurov and Townsend see Trapathon as a departure from the usual hip-hop party scene.

“You don’t have to wear loafers with a button-up shirt, that’s so not what we’re about,” Khemsurov said. “We needed to create that in a party here in Columbus. No BS.”

Townsend added, “We’re the anti-party.”  

Moving forward, the event will be moved to a consistent schedule of the third Friday of every month.

Trapathon starts at 10 p.m. Thursday night at Spacebar, 2590 N. High St. Admission is free for those 18 and over. This month’s installment will feature local artists Fabrashay A and Tron Music.

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