If I were pressed to pick a singular “Best DJ In The World,” my answer would be swift: Ben UFO. The refreshingly humble, boundlessly passionate DJ represents all that is true, good, and sincere about DJing as an art and as a profession. He founded the most forward-thinking and creative record label in recent history, Hessle Audio, in 2007, alongside two similarly minded visionaries, Pearson Sound and Pangaea. He is the rarest breed of modern DJ, one whose career is built entirely on DJ sets (he doesn't produce his own tunes) and a broad, wide-ranging love of music of all kinds; although his DJ sets skew towards “U.K. bass”-style techno and lo-fi house, he frequently incorporates disco, jungle, experimental, industrial, pop, dubstep, footwork, and more into his sets. And he's not afraid to experiment — “good enough” doesn't seem to cut it for Ben, and whenever he's behind the decks, he seems driven to push himself just a little further than last time.
Honey Soundsystem's upcoming party has Ben UFO going back-to-back with Midland, another new-but-talented selector from the U.K. Midland is best known for a five-year-strong string of brilliant tech-house hits that manage to combine the bass lines and swagger of Britain's underground bass music scene with the easily accessible sheen of mainstream tech-house, making his productions (and DJ sets) a hit with big crowds and holier-than-thou types alike. When he and Ben DJ together, expect them to play off one another, leading each other down meandering paths, in the way only experienced DJs who know each other well can do.
Honey's residents will be on duty alongside Icee Hot residents, opening the festivities to make way for Ben and Midland's four-hour tag set, with visual transformations courtesy of HEX. This is a big one — wear your dancing shoes.
Other worthy parties this week
As You Like It with Maya Jane Coles, Martyn, and Archie Pelago, 9 p.m.-5 a.m. Friday, May 15. $25-$30; publicsf.com
Youthful Londoner Maya Jane Coles has, in the course of a few short years, all but conquered the world. Releasing her first record as a teenager, she hasn't stopped since, quickly rising to the top of the pack with record after record of smooth, garage-flavored house informed by the underground, but not beholden to it. She's a fantastic DJ, selecting bits and pieces from all over the house music continuum, with a focus on the bouncy London breed and glossy, melodic tech-house. Joining her is Martyn, the Dutch producer who shares a lot of common lineage with Coles, favoring similarly garage-inspired house and techno. They're anchoring the main room at Public Works, while upstairs features Brooklyn-based trio Archie Pelago, whose mind-bending live performances feature turntables, Ableton, cello, and saxophone, and blur the edges between jazz, hip-hop, house, and techno. Local selectors Rich Korach, Nackt, Mark Slee, and Bells & Whistles will get the party started.
Gun Club, FACE, and Restless Nites present The Juan MacLean with Dr. Dunks at Mezzanine, 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday, May 15. $20; mezzaninesf.com
Of all the developments in dance music that occurred over the last decade-and-change, DFA Records casts the longest shadow. The record label became one of the most successful in the world by seamlessly merging the worlds of indie rock and dance music, exposing the joys of disco and house to a whole generation of listeners who didn't grow up with it. Its most enduring acts are LCD Soundsystem (of course) and The Juan MacLean, the cheekily-named duo of John MacLean and Nancy Whang (who were also part of LCD). Their music — electric disco-funk — is some of the most enjoyable in DFA's catalog, and this Friday marks the first time both Nancy and John have played together for a live Juan MacLean gig in six years. After they finish their set, renowned New York disco selector Dr. Dunks (Eric Duncan) will keep the party going till the wee hours, while FACE resident DJ Eug will kick things off.
Make It Funky presents Goddollars, Roche, and more at Monarch, 9:30 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday, May 16. $10; monarchsf.com
A little bit of funk, a little bit of house, a little bit of Italo, a little bit of disco — this diverse (and funky) lineup has a little something for everyone. One of the city's newest parties, Make It Funky is bringing in Goddollars, one of the founders of L.A.'s legendary A Club Called Rhonda, to headline its latest. Rhonda is a pansexual, all-inclusive, mixed-sexuality, and mixed-genre affair, and Goddollars will bring that vibe up to San Francisco. He's joined by Roche, a local producer and DJ (affiliated with LA's 100% Silk label) with a penchant for smooth, soulful vintage house music, the kind that hits hard and swings like old disco. Casey and Plaza from Galaxy Radio, a party that focuses on cosmic disco, Italo, and spaced-out electro-funk will also be DJing, and their interstellar vibes should provide the perfect complement to Goddollars and Roche. Last but not least, Make It Funky resident Fortune will be opening up the night.
Sunset Island 2015 featuring John Tejada, Mike Dunn, Tone of Arc, and more at The Great Lawn on Treasure Island, noon-9 p.m. Sunday, May 17. $20-$25; sunsetsoundsystem.com
Sunset Sound System has been throwing outdoor parties for more than 20 years, and Sunset Island, which happens once a year on Treasure Island's Great Lawn, is about as good as an outdoor party can get. With the San Francisco skyline as a backdrop, Sunset brings in world-class talent to DJ and perform on the Great Lawn, and this year is no different, featuring John Tejada, the L.A.-based producer who has consistently produced some of the world's finest techno since his first release in 1996. His music is melodic, mesmerizing, and sensual, and his live performances are some of the finest in the biz. Also performing live is Tone of Arc, local favorites whose breezy, disco-flavored house music is just right for dancing outdoors. On DJ duty is Mike Dunn, an underrated Chicago house musician who has been producing and DJing bangin' tunes for almost 30 years now. Sunset residents Solar, J-Bird, and Galen will get the party started.