The groovy sounds of funk and soul records can be heard on any Monday night within the dimly lit Bar X. This strictly vinyl night is the creation of DJ Godina (Justin Godina). Godina is a well-known DJ in Salt Lake City who, apart from hosting nights at bars like Gracies, Chakra Lounge, and Undercurrent, was voted top DJ in City Weekly’s Best Of in 2015.
Godina has always had a passion for records. “When I was 5 or 6-years-old, I used to flip records in the dancing room (the living room at my dad’s parents’ house) with my aunts and uncles,” he said. Years later, he discovered his uncle’s immense collection, which included early hip hop and new wave by artists such as AC/DC, Prince, and The B 52’s. Godina adds, “In and shortly after high school, I would throw parties and was always the guy sitting in front of the CD player monopolizing the stereo. So I bought some turntables from thrift stores and my first mixer and started DJing our parties.”
This passion to introduce people to music inspired Godina to start DJing professionally. Initially starting out with records, he began using CDJs (a specialized digital music player for DJing). However, Godina couldn’t let go of the thrill of crate digging. “Besides being really fun and challenging to actually play records, vinyl is nostalgic and important to me. With all of the new technology, it’s becoming rarer that younger DJs really know or care about this format that laid the foundation for this culture,” Godina says. “Not to mention the fact you have to put in a lot of time and effort and money into finding the buttery joints. That in and of itself is a skill set.”
In 2010, Bar X was bought and reopened by Ty Burrell, who turned it into a cocktail bar.
“I had a conversation with my cousin who lives in D.C. and works at Ford’s Theatre. She told me that she had met Ty Burrell at the Presidential Gala and he mentioned that he had bought Bar X and was reopening it as a cocktail bar,” said Godina. “I ventured in shortly after they opened the doors and was immediately smitten with the dark, intimate atmosphere.”
For Godina, Bar X’s renovation managed to maintain the authentic essence of its former glory, while inviting a newer clientele. “I knew immediately it would be a great fit for soul and funk,” Godina said. “So with a little persistence, I was able to get an audience with Rich and Duncan, two of the shot-calling proprietors of the establishment. They liked the idea of soul and funk, and they were excited about the all-vinyl facet of the night as well.” Since then, the soul and funk night at Bar X has been a staple in Salt Lake City’s nightlife.
Bar X’s Soul and Funk Night attracts a decent following of folks who appreciate quality and eclectic sounds—as well as those going out for a Monday nightcap. “When we started the night, it was before Beer Bar was open, and we used to set up the turntables right in front of the spot that is now the doorway between the two bars,” Godina said. “That spot almost had a small area in front of it where people would dance, and the night was a little a little more geared toward a dance party.”
Now the Soul and Funk night is geared toward a more lounge-like atmosphere and it still attracts a good crowd, too. Godina said, “The most memorable nights for me were when we had some really cool celebrity appearances [like] Dave Chappelle, WILCO, The Budos Band, and Adrian Younge—but not just because of their celebrity, but because of the fact that they were super into the music we were playing.”
Although Monday nights are primarily soul and funk, Godina is open to other genres. “We are playing a lot of Jazz, Latin, Brazilian, Reggae, Prog and Psyche Rock, Boogie, Gospel, 80s electro, New Wave, and classic hip hop featuring Soul and Funk sample-based production.”
The Soul and Funk plays host to some of Salt Lake City’s most experienced crate-diggers—many of whom belong to The Caviar Club, a creative artist collective that includes other local DJs like James “SneekyLong” Ramirez, Chase “Chaseone2” Loter, Sam “Feral Cat” Stinson, and Jesse Stewart.
Even though the members of the Caviar Club primarily grace the decks at Bar X, it is open to other connoisseurs of eclectic music tastes. “Every week there are usually a few guys that bring records to play,” Godina said. “I host the night, but there is an open turntable policy. Mostly, it’s Caviar Club guys that play, but it’s not exclusive to us. I just have to know that you know enough about DJing to operate the equipment without damaging it—and have some good records to play.”
Bar X is located at 155 E 200 S, Salt Lake City.