LE BAIN: Tell us about the night you met Erich Conrad, the instigator of ZIGZAG?
WASEEM CHEEMA: We met on a cold winter’s night in early-90s Russia, and reconnected years later via our mutual friends Mack Dugan, Drew Elliott and Aimee Phillips. I had been DJing around the city for two years or so at this point, and Erich asked me to come on-board with his new endeavor, ZIGZAG. I was already a big supporter of Beige and was excited to pursue a new night in a new space with an "anything goes" philosophy.
Waseem Cheema in Le Bain's DJ booth
Does the ZIGZAG sound have to be versatile?
My manifesto for a DJ set has always been to expose people to different music not usually heard in a nightclub environment, while still maintaining a raucous energy. This mantra completely coincided with Erich's vision of ZIGZAG - a sensory tornado that can shift genres/moods at any given moment, while maintaining a careful curation of the crowd - blending the worlds of fashion, art, music, downtown kids on a roof in the sky high above the New York City streets below. I tend to stick to indie remixes, rock, hip hop and the occasional hit in an effort to set the mood and the stage for our guest DJs.
What does your music look like?
My inspiration can properly be summed up through the Young Hearts Run Free scene from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet - now that’s a party - and what I strive for with each set.
Can you share three highlights from ZIGZAG so far?
The first night I DJ'd ZIGZAG was definitely one. I ended up closing down the club on an amazing summer night, then spontaneously decided (along with Ian Bradley, our wonderful doorman at the time) to go see Beyoncé film "GMA" at 9:00am in Central Park. It turns out a McDonald’s breakfast and an hour nap in the park was all I really needed to start the next day.
Anything fashion related?
Our Valentine's Day collaboration with leather designer Zana Bayne, where we transformed Le Bain into a fully harnessed BDSM dungeon, which really complimented the vibe of the club. Zana ended up designing a massive custom harness for our disco ball, and there were treats like whips and blow-up dolls for the crowd, all with sexy sounds provided by Todd Pendu and Nicola Formichetti.
One music highlight?
When we had my pal Grimmy from BBC Radio 1 guest DJ for Aimee’s 30th birthday - it was complete pandemonium. Foggy memories include Grim throwing down hit after hit followed by Theophilus London's entourage taking over the DJ booth and keeping the panic going.
Tell us about one record you'll play on Thursday at the peak of the night?
My go-to track when the dance floor is at its energy peak is a song called "Sulk" by Trust. I was first introduced to the band via a friend's recommendation online and have been obsessed ever since. This particular song/video encapsulates everything amazing from a late 90s/early 00s rave/afterhours house party while maintaining a modern edge. The crowd response is always incredible – not many people know the song, so in addition to people losing their shit, it’s probably the most “human-Shazam’d” track I play.
ZIGZAG, every Thursday night at Le Bain. The Standard, High Line.