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"That whole thing kind of pissed me off," he laughs now, obviously embarrassed by the whole ordeal. "The [AJC] writer thought she was doing a good thing, but nobody even tried to call me. Now, when you Google my name, it's the first thing that comes up: 'Romeo Cologne reported missing in homeless shelter.'"
It's ironic that, while Cologne's devotion to old-school funk probably explains his enduring popularity, his refusal to evolve as a dance-party DJ is what likely cost him the gig at the Star Bar.
An e-mail from Bryan Malone, the Star Bar's booking agent, explains the bar's reason for letting Cologne go as an attempt to "update and broaden our appeal for an ever-younger and changing audience."
Cologne keeps his irritation in check. "The last year may not have ended ideally, but that's fine. The 16 years before it were awesome," he says. "Funk music [is] authentic, but it [has] a little bit of everything to it — blues, jazz, rock — and it influenced these things as well. A lot of modern music has lost that sense of connection. So that's why I'm here to offer an education."
He's well aware of the progressive DJ culture that has evolved around him over the last two decades, but to Cologne it's not even the same ballpark. "The word DJ means something different now with all of the scratching and mixing," he says. "I have respect for that craft. But it's not what I do and it's not something that you do with records from the '70s. You can, but it takes the life out of them."
Two Tuesdays ago, Cologne's fourth at 10 High, he stood under a banner over the club's entryway that beamed, "The 10 High staff very proudly welcomes Romeo, Kwasi, Chad and all of you loyal funksters to your new home!!!" Even though the crowds aren't there yet, Cologne's confident things will pick up soon. "You can move an event to a new place, but it's hard to bring the crowd with it," he says. Still, dancers trickled through the door, and despite low attendance, everyone moved to the music — even the bartender. Pointing to the banner, Cologne deadpans, "The difference between 10 High and that old place is that they're actually happy to have me here, and that goes a long way."
Romeo Cologne will survive, as he's done for so many years, steeped in the funk. For now, retirement is a pipe dream. "I would love to open a wedding chapel in Las Vegas," he says with a distance in his voice while holding his hands up in the shape of an imaginary marquee. "Romeo's Disco Wedding Chapel."
It's not that much of stretch, considering how the last two decades have gone for him. Two years ago, after not giving much thought to religion for most of his adult life, he was ordained as a minister of the Universal Life Church, more for practical purposes than spiritual ones. "Basically, it's like how a ship's captain can marry people; I can do that. And if I'm going to retire, Vegas is the place for me."
Until then, he'll go on pointing to the heavens and preaching the gospel of funk.
Continue for Romeo's funky timeline, from Oh-OK to Buzz of Delight to his DJ sets
Killin it. So damn sexy
ooooohhhh, I'm so excited!! I can't wait to see them together!
come on man you know you got a bromance. you probably still rock that OutKast…