On the Dance Floor of Questlove’s Prince-Inspired DJ Set

2016 Tribeca Film Festival After Party For Vincent N Roxxy At Black Market - 4/18/16
Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images

As the news sunk in of Prince’s untimely death, on Thursday, Questlove sent out a single, purple, love symbol Instagram with the details for his usual Thursday-night DJ gig at Brooklyn Bowl, and the words, “Cry. Listen. Dance. Sing. 2nite.” Questlove’s deep devotion to Prince has been well documented — and by 5 p.m., all of the $10 tickets had sold old. That Quest would be playing an all-Prince set seemed to be a given. Whether it would be a joyous or mournful affair was not.

A little bit of both, it turned out. This wasn’t Spike Lee’s populist outdoor singalong of “Purple Rain” with cell phones held mournfully aloft. The crowd that filed into Brooklyn Bowl around midnight was greeted by obscure and extended tracks such as the B-side LP version of “Shockadelica,” coupled with many songs from Prince-created Minnesota bands The Time and The Family, set against the backdrop of Finding Nemo, which played on every screen, in homage to the story Quest told over Twitter last year about how Prince once fired him from a DJ gig and played the DVD of Finding Nemo instead.

A stoic Quest didn’t say much — he rarely does on his Bowl Train nights, which usually play soul and funk against classic Soul Train videos — except to give a shout-out to Phife Dawg and ask the crowd to sing along to the few big hits he played, like “Cream” and “Raspberry Beret.” Excellent dancer Martha Plimpton could be found in the crowd, rallying sad strangers to get their groove on, while Craig Robinson owned the area up near the bowling lanes with an enthusiastic Electric Slide. As the videos switched to Soul Train (plus commercials), and an amazing, young Prince performance, doing splits in a glittering white overcoat and matador pants, the night belonged the crowd of eccentrics — a guy with a head bandana à la the Karate Kid, a guy wearing a costume-shop turban and sunglasses, a woman dressed like Cruella de Vil, in slinky black and faux mink — who stayed till 3 a.m., saying good-bye the only way they knew how: by dancing their asses off.

Here’s the set list, if you’d like to have your own dance party at home:

“Shockadelica” (LP Version) — Prince
“Get It Up” — The Time
“Hot Thing” — Prince 
“Mutiny” — The Family 
“It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night” — Prince 
“A Love Bizarre” — Sheila E. 
“High Fashion” — The Family
“The Walk” — The Time
“Soft and Wet” — Prince 
“Can You Help Me” — Jesse Johnson 
“Housequake” — Prince 
“Cream” — Prince & the New Power Generation
“If a Girl Answers (Don’t Hang Up)” — Vanity 6
“I Feel You” — Vader 
“Jungle Love” — The Time 
“Controversy” — Prince 
“Release” — Prince 
“Six” — Madhouse 
“It” — Prince 
“Player’s Ball” — Mazarati 
“I Don’t Want to Leave You” — The Time 
“Tambourine” — Prince 
“Wild and Loose” — The Time 
“Sexy Dancer” — Prince 
“I Feel for You” — Prince 
“Cindy C.”  — Prince 
“Raspberry Beret” — Prince 
“U Got the Look” — Prince

On the Ground of Questlove’s DJ Set for Prince