Around six months ago, I graduated from college, move to Los Angeles and began working at an independent record label. I had previously been attending uni at a school in the suburbs and the move has allowed me to attend shows, parties and other music-oriented events on a near-constant basis. The fact that nearly every touring act hits Los Angeles exacerbates the glut of quality shows. More so, the city has a glut of sprawling warehouse districts, neighborhoods ride for seedy, all night parties featuring globe trotting deejays and warm PBR in equal measure. Unfortunately, LAPD’s vice squad has taken a special interest in the city’s warehouse circuit, cracking down with a brute force that has sent promoters scurrying to find legitimate venues in the peripheries of downtown. Los Angeles’ late night dance scene seems to be in a mode of major flux, but that doesn’t mean that you often have the pick of the litter party-wise, often a choice between several visiting house and/or techno dons. The city lacks somewhat in ‘nuum culture and club music, but that almost seems like an unfair criticism considering the opportunities created and taken away by the aforementioned circumstances. I decided to lay out my favorite moments in the club this year, the club being a broad space filled by dancers, dancing and dance music. The following three nights stuck out to me for entirely different reasons, but each will play a huge roll in shaping how I look back on this time in my life at large and how I devoured dance music in particular. Find the rest of our 2014 coverage here.
1.) Jack J @ loft space several blocks from my home
Hailing from the inimitable Mood Hut crew, Jack J’s Looking For You/Take It To The Edge rocked the house music world to its core, essentializing the sound to its most affecting core elements. When the address for his recent Los Angeles date was fired into my inbox, I realized that the party would be taking place at an odd block of lofts snuggled into several bare distribution centers. With assistance from Los Angeles’ own Suzanne Kraft and Parker, the party was a sure hit and the fact that it was walking distance from my LA River-bordering house was an extra bonus that resulted in cranking our home system a little too and imbibing a bit too much tequila. With the booth set up on the several floor overlooking the dancefloor, free snacks and some lovely foliage, a number of twenty-somethings, LA house cognoscenti and incomers from outside of the city limits began to amass, throwing themselves into Kraft’s turbid house and disco numbers while devouring a table of free snacks. The room was certainly not intended for dancefloor efficacy, but with a bar snuggled under the stairs, several adventurous early night (midnight) dancers and widespread anticipation for Jack J’s set, the space contained an overarching air of barely concealed excitement. By the time the one and only Jack Jutson stepped on stage, the room was already beginning to resemble a single swollen mass, swayed side to side by a massive fan in one corner and Jutson’s wavy concoctions from above. The set was full of Mood Hut material from the past year and each and every Hashman Deejay, Pender Stree Stepper’s and Aquarian Foundation tune was met by a gleeful response from the now packed room. Predictably, “Looking For You” sent the dancefloor into rapture, giving the night a sense of genuine remembrance and elevating beyond the glut of late night excursions this particular club denizen has taken in the past 365 odd days.
2.) Private Selection Party feat. Bodymasters, Arkitect, Dreams & Aerial @ sweltering storefront in Echo Park
With an odd Echo Park-based address in hand and the prospect of witnessing brand new live act Bodymasters take over a small space on an calm Friday night, Private Selection’s (Dreams, Arkitect, Aerial) September party was something of an unknown quantity, but in hindsight has been elevated in my mind into one of the most memorable club experiences of the year. Upon entry, the space seemed to take the quality of a sweltering, leafy bodega, replete with half clad dancers and claustrophobic smoking area. It seems silly to riff on it at this point, but this party was HOT. Like, nearly unbearable, especially considering the force with which Bodymasters were pushing sharp, angular techno out of their analogue rig. Acid basslines and the sharp kick of the 909 ruled this night and while the crowd might not have looked the part of an all-night rave crew, they certainly moved like one, slurping down Coors Light or merely re-appropriating the frozen beer as a coolant. After one or two close calls with the police, Dreams and Arkitect closed out the night with fervor drawing together British-style techno, East Coast club music and West and South African rhythms into an intensely pleasurable melange. The Private Selection fellows are closing out 2014 with another party featuring the aforementioned residents as well as LA Club Resource representative Delivery on New Years. One not to miss, especially considering the general lack of quality across that particular date.
3.) NAAFI and J-Cush @ outdoor art space near the river
Another party easily walkable from my humble abode (unfortunately, quite rare) on an odd Wednesday night, the NAAFI crew (Lao, Paul Marmota and Mexican Jihad in this case) took over art gallery 356 Mission’s outdoor space and brought Lit City Trax head honcho J-Cush along with them. Essentially a large, fenced in parking lot, the space didn’t seem to bother any of the performers and the crowd, aided and abetted by free Modelo, was as ready to leave their respective shells as an LA crowd ever will be on a Wednesday night. More than the previous two parties listed here, NAAFI’s LA appearance hit my wheel spot with force, bringing out the dembow, kuduro, dancehall, ghetto house and grime I so rarely am allowed to obsess over in a club setting. The fact that the venue was very much un-club-like didn’t diminish my excitement at all, especially considering the Future Brown member’s midnight set. As the night got chillier, J-Cush brought up the tempo, clashing DJ Deeon with Youngstar and moving my more house and techno-oriented friends to ask, with a bewildered look on their face, if this is how club music is intended to be mixed. After all, it might seem natural to a deejay who spins across a number of tempos and feels comfortable mixing Bmore, grime and kuduro across a 10 minute span, but that frenetic pace is often is shocking to many punters, especially those used to the aseptic world of four-on-the-floor beats. Despite the odd placement on a Wednesday night, Lao, Marmota, Mexican Jihad and J-Cush turned the bizarre space into a fantastical open air club-cum-how to relate to the body.