Fans of electronic music seem to live on a constant hunt for what’s next—the subgenre or reimagining of a familiar sound that they can add to their playlists or DJ crates. It’s an endless pursuit that Ben Fuller knows all too well. Since arriving in Portland in 2009, the DJ (he spins as Ben Tactic) and show promoter has spent much of his free time attending dance nights and spinning online mixes in search of inspiration. Now 43, it's somewhat ironic that the creator of regular dance party Spend the Night often wishes he could be in bed by 10 pm.

"I try to as much as I can, but it’s hard,” Fuller told the Mercury. “It’s important to get out and support, especially with some of the newer people in town. Like, ‘Who are you guys? I’m really interested to see what you do.’” 

This Saturday will be another late one for Fuller, as he and his collaborators celebrate Spend the Night's ninth anniversary at Holocene, where resident DJs Nathan Detroit, Leeonn, Sunrise Energy Club, and Tactic will open for headliners Todd Edwards and Conducta going back-to-back playing their unique spins on UK garage.

Lights on the dance floor at a recent Spend the Night party. Photo by Ben Fuller

Named after a UK garage classic by Danny J. Lewis, Spend The Night events have ballooned at a rapid pace, growing from former home the Liquor Store (now the Six Below Midnight)—where they hosted underground sensations like Brooklyn-based deep house artist Aurora Halal and the exploratory duo Beautiful Swimmers—to their current base at Holocene where just last month, Scottish DJ and Kanye-collaborator Hudson Mohawke traded off bass-heavy tracks with Atlanta’s Nikki Nair for a packed dance floor. 

As a result of the work that Fuller and his team put into these shows, Spend The Night has started to gain a positive reputation internationally. Tastemaking website Resident Advisor regularly hypes up their events. And when Romy Madley Croft, one-third of dream pop group the XX, was looking to set up her first solo date in Portland (scheduled for August 8 at Wonder Ballroom), she insisted that Spend The Night be involved. 

“That was professionally validating,” Fuller says. “I asked Scott [McLean, co-owner of Holocene, co-sponsors of the Romy show], ‘Are you sure they don’t just want Holocene involved?’ He said, ‘No, they’re asking for Spend The Night.’ I was like, ‘What?!?’” 

Fuller comes by that humility honestly, having spent his formative years in the ever self-effacing Midwest. He first heard dance music via the student radio station at Kansas University and began traveling to St. Louis and Minneapolis to attend raves. In 2000, he helped throw one of his own featuring techno pioneer Juan Atkins that Fuller claims “ended up being kind of like the biggest rave at that time in Kansas City.” 

He became a fixture in that city’s dance music scene, DJing full time and putting on events, a dual life he kept up after moving to Portland in 2009 and falling in with a welcoming crew of fellow electronic enthusiasts like Lincolnup and Graintable. The next year, he started Bubblin, a party that bounced all over the city, growing from a showcase for their resident DJs into a trusted brand that opened up Portland to artists like dub madman the Bug, footwork originator RP Boo, and rapper Cakes da Killa. 

Alongside the team behind long-running drum and bass night Juice and event producers Red Cube, Fuller has been instrumental in proving that Portland’s electronic music community is worth paying attention to. And it continues to grow with underground parties popping up regularly and bigger names happily swinging through, even if they walk away with about a third of the money that they could earn in a bigger market like San Francisco or Seattle. 

“So many of these globally active artists that are playing the best clubs and the best venues in the world,” says Fuller, “so often they’re like, ‘Portland was the best date of my entire US tour.’ There’s just a vibe here. The mix of people, the openness. They’re like, ‘We can get weird and we can really be ourselves and we get that energy back from the room.’ That’s just the magic.” 

Spend the Night’s 9-Year Anniversary Party is at Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison, Sat May 11, 10 pm, $25, tickets here, 21+