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Photo by Amanda Armstrong.

Ottawa Creatives: DJ Hobo and Sweet Cheeks

By Amanda Armstrong on September 17, 2015

Pawel and Jose became friends in 2008 and spent the winter, both unemployed, making dinner and playing records. Jose had been playing in a band, My Dad vs Yours, since 2000 and Pawel had been djing at notorious houseparties with other local DJs. After having left his CDJ in Jose’s care while travelling earlier that year, Pawel returned from the East Coast and the boys pooled their equipment together. Jose learned to DJ. And together they became DJs Hobo and Sweet Cheeks, starting out by playing records at their friends’ house parties.

In April of 2009, DJ Hobo and Sweet Cheeks got their first DJ gig playing records on the main floor of St Brigid’s church for the Prodemonium event that year. DJ Sweet Cheeks was a little anxious about playing in public, but was comforted by the fact that they would be playing for those passing through to the main event downstairs. A turn of events (and a sound system that was way too loud) found people returning upstairs to hear them play and, when they looked out into what had become a crowd of people dancing in the pews, they knew they would need to continue playing for the masses.

In 2011, they decided it was time to start their own party. They stumbled upon the location that would become their long-time home over brunch one Saturday afternoon at the Rochester Pub and Eatery. Looking up from their plates and around at the space they thought, “why not here?” They talked to Simian, the owner of the Rochester, who told them to pick a date and said “see you then”. At first they began doing one off events until Simian asked if they’d like to make it a monthly. In June, DJ Hobo and Sweet Cheeks began hosting a monthly Kitchen Party at the Rochester Pub and Eatery.

Kitchen partyJose is fascinated by what makes people dance. He loves to watch the crowds at parties and see what gets people moving and finding music he likes that makes people do the same. Pawel loves digging through his piles of records, bringing along what he thinks will be good, then finding the tunes to match the mood of the eve, once the night has begun. Both know that it is the energy and the people that make the party, and have made Kitchen Party, the stellar success that it is.

At some point, the Kitchen Party DJs took off. Pawel began djing at Beats & Boards, a weekly board game night held at Raw Sugar. Jose has djed at the Ottawa International Film Festival and the Ottawa Children’s Festival. They’ve organized a few pop up parties, a couple Disco not Disco events; they’ve played at the Great Glebe Garage Sale since 2010, djed weddings, corporate events, art openings, and more recently, they played at Chinatown Remixed and this year’s Premix. They’ve also guest djed at other local dance parties.

Earlier this year, the guys lost the spot that Kitchen Party has called home for 4 years, with the closing of the Rochester Pub and Eatery. The end of the Rochester has left DJ Hobo and Sweet Cheeks with many great memories. Pawel remembers when they were first starting out and they’d try to keep the party going into the wee hours of the night. Simian would let them know that the end was drawing near with a flick of the lights and they knew they had a few more songs and then it was time to shut’er down.

The guys would test their limits, playing another song and then another, until one night, Simian came in and ripped the power out of the wall. The dance floor booed, not ready to stop dancing, but that was it and it was time to go home. Jose recalls the heatwave of July 2011; he and Pawel were djing and he was exhausted, but the energy of the room gave him a second wind to close off the night. My own favourite KP memory was of a snowstorm back in 2013 where, despite the weather outside, the dance floor was full well into the night, and we danced as the snow fell softly outside, in the twinkle of Christmas lights.

Now, DJ Hobo and Sweet Cheeks are on the prowl for a new space in which to grow roots. They will be celebrating their fourth year anniversary this Friday night at Nostalgica and are looking at different venues in which to settle in. Together, they also plan to create new mixes, remixes, and some new tracks of their own. There is plenty of room to grow and create as things progress, but first thing’s first – they’ve a party to throw this Friday night!