The B Spot: DJ Rambo

The B Spot is the ultimate pleasure point where outdoor adventure meets music. Hopefully in identifying these pleasure points in myself and others, we’ll be able to help you to find your B Spot.

Ryan Rambo has a killer headache and he just wants to throw up. The altitude sickness is kicking in two hours before he reaches the top of the Annapurna Circuit, the gargantuan mountain trail system through Nepal that has people skimming the sky as they travel over 100 miles and a collective 33,000 feet in elevation through the Himalayas. Him and his partner Rusty Reems have been mountain biking the circuit for the last week, they are on their last day, and must decide if they should start the descent now, acclimatize, and miss out on the summit and the 15,000 feet of downhill. A lot of people have been put in this position in these mountains, forced to make a hard decision. Not a lot of people decide “Fuck it” and drop a tab of acid and push on through to the other side. 

“I took some ibuprofen, a hit of acid, and we pushed our bikes the last two hours. At the top we were tripping balls and just rode back downhill like that the whole way. I don’t know of anyone else who has ever done that,” laughed Rambo. 

It’s quite the power move, but one that exemplifies the distance Rambo will go to experience life at maximum exposure and the invigorating connections he wants to make with the people and places he comes across. At his core, the DJ and outdoor enthusiast wants to link people and places together in meaningful ways and he’s realized the best way to do that for himself is through inspired outdoor activity and an enriched social circle centered around music.

His manifested destiny looks something like cruising mountain bike trails around Lake Tahoe during the day and throwing a unique disco-funk blowout as DJ Rambo at night (his new mix can be found here). He’s been a party provocateur with his own production company Rambo Party Productions since 2011 in the region and has established himself as a cultural mainstay in the intersection between the outdoors and apres partying. Along with his buddy Reems and the swashbuckling escapade that is The Great Bingo Revival, they’ve set the DIY standard in Tahoe of going hard outdoors and even harder on the dance floor. It wasn’t a culture they created, but it was one they embraced to maximum effect. 

In doing so, Rambo is living his best life and providing other people experiences and communities they too can hopefully find themselves living their best lives in. Maybe you need some blazing tunes under the solstice moon to feel alive. Maybe you need a tab of acid and 15,000 feet of downhill on a mountain bike to feel alive. Either way, DJ Rambo has you covered. 

The following is a conversation with Ryan Rambo. It has been edited for length and clarity. 

Tell me about this trip to Downieville I heard you recently took? 

I feel like I come from a strong Tahoe culture where we shred hard and party hard. It was my friend’s birthday and he hired me to come up to this huge campsite on Packer Saddle in Downieville. 20 of us came out and rode Downieville all day and then took it to a full on dance party from sunset to the wee hours of the morning, it was a blast. It felt like a complete day full of good riding and good friends. Two things I think are so important are being physically active and socially active, meaning connecting with people in your community and providing something that allows people to connect with each other, which you can do both outside and with music. 

Where do you think those values come from? 

I think they come from experiencing the joy that comes from connecting with people. I think relationships with people are pretty much the most important thing in life and that provides joy to others and yourself. It makes for a happier life if you can maintain good relationships with people in meaningful ways. 

There are positive things they don’t talk about openly about partying. My friend I was DJing for, he came up to me the next morning after that day. He said he had a friend that had recently committed suicide and he was really into the music scene and that night had made him feel like the friend was with us. You don’t know how what you are doing might be affecting someone in a deeper way. They don’t think about what that connection can do for someone. I think there can be such a strong purpose in those types of gatherings. 

What’s your ideal type of ride? What trails and areas are you biking in Tahoe and CO?

I think Downieville is such a good all-around ride. It’s so diverse where the top is nice and flowy and burmy then you get into this fast, technical section with lots of rocks. Then the third divide is my favorite section where you go balls to the wall as fast with smooth, small, swoopy turns, probably going 25 miles per hour the whole way. It has these small drops you can just float over and then you get into this river crossing section, there are so many dope sections. 

I do like riding steeps like in Utah but I think a good shuttle ride like The Whole Enchilada in Utah has a bunch of variable terrain, long and flowy with tons of different sections. Those are two of the best rides on the west coast. Coming out to Colorado my girlfriend and I are gonna be in Fruita, CO and we’ll probably do the Deer Valley Bike Park in Utah. 

It seems adventure sports came first, with music and shows as a way to earn money and party and provide daytime access to the activities you loved. What’s your entry into DJing and late-night culture?

I grew up Jehovah’s Witness and I got kicked out of the church when I was 21 and in Seattle. At the time I didn’t want to leave my life but I got forced too. I’ve always been a super social person and on the edge of what that religion allows, struggling with wanting to be in it but feeling like I didn’t fit in there. When I got kicked out I got to explore other people and cultures because I was ex-communicated and all my friends were gone, so I got new friends. 

Over the course of the year I realized I had been denying myself my entire life because of this religion and I found my true self wants to connect people. I like to be a connector, I want to connect creative people together to do awesome things. It started with a house party in Seattle and after that I moved to Tahoe, where the music scene was ok but nothing like what I used to have in the city. 

I was inspired to build a party that had the music I wanted to listen to and other girls wanted to listen to. It started out of that desire to have a more funky party in Tahoe and it slowly evolved to different realms. I met Rusty [Reems] at Jake’s On The Lake restaurant and he had just started his Great Bingo Revival and I had just started Rambo Party Productions. We joined forces. We aren’t officially business partners anymore but we are best friends and consult each other on all the bingo stuff and all the party stuff.

What was the catalyst that gave you that leap of personality and put yourself in the spotlight as DJ Rambo? 

Me and Rusty went on a mountain biking trip in Nepal and did the Annapurna Circuit — one of the world’s most famous hiking trails — on bikes. You start at 1,400 feet and it takes you seven days to the top, where you are at just below 18,000 feet. Along the way we were talking and he pushed me into DJing and told me I just needed to start doing it, which I had been thinking about for a while. 

He convinced me to buy all the equipment on Black Friday and I was practicing with it for six months. Then someone backed out of the bingo gig on New Years and I got to headline this festival on the midnight slot for my first gig. It was all that Nepal trip and Rusty pushing me to get that equipment. 

What’s your relationship with Andrew Browning (Disco Terrorist) like? You’ve played together a lot and you’ll be playing with him at Your Mom’s House in Denver, CO this Friday? 

We both had our evolution together as DJs. We went to Burning Man together for the first time about eight years ago and were struggling so hard to find music we liked there. That was the catalyst for us to want to throw our own parties with our own music and do things our way. He’s helped me learn how to DJ, he was my first friend in Tahoe. We went from knowing nothing about the party culture to being the people throwing the parties and playing them. 

What other events or productions are you looking forward to this year? 

California is still in a state of limbo but Reno has been going off, so has Denver. My goal is to do only outdoor shows this year in California. I don’t have anything planned yet but I really want to get a show done at the Truckee Amphitheater. I also am building a small art car called the Richtershaw. Construction is going a little slower than I wanted but I’m hoping by mid-summer it’s done. This thing has a sound system and it’s got a pedicab. I’ll have it so that we can go down the bike path and DJ off this battery powered vehicle, do parties wherever we want. That’s what I’m looking forward to, throwing these renegade outdoor parties in the daytime.

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