underground

A couple weeks ago, early on a Sunday afternoon, I stumbled into an underground dance club. I had no idea that's what it was at the time. I just thought there was a cool, if unexpected, event happening on the outdoor patio at one of the local bars. It's not a place that typically plays electronic, so when I walked by and heard the music, my curiosity was piqued.

The music sounded good. Rather great, actually. And people were dancing - enthusiastically. On a Sunday afternoon. Random in the extreme. Twice over the next few hours, I invented excuses to run errands around the corner, so I could further investigate this intriguing little pop-up party. By the time I did a second drive-by, the tiny dance floor was packed - in the cold light of day - with some of the chillest-looking revelers I'd ever seen in LA. People in shorts, t-shirts, sneakers. People who seemed to care much less about what they were wearing than what they were hearing and how they were moving.

Fascinated, I found a spot on the railing and watched the scene for a while, along with a handful of other passerby. "Do you know anything about this?" I queried of a guy standing nearby. "I've never seen DJs playing here."

He did know, and he explained to me: this was a weekly event that runs all summer in Los Angeles, and has been doing so for years. House music at rotating venues throughout the city. Various DJs. "But this guy's the best," he added. I believed it. The music was incredible.

"How late does it go?" I asked.

"Until ten. But he's only on for another hour," he said, pointing at the man behind the turntables. That was all I needed to hear. I bolted to the apartment to drop off my things, changed into comfortable jeans and a tank top, and headed back to the bar. Terence was in New York visiting family, so I went alone. No problemo: I'm a veteran at going out solo...at night. In dark clubs, where I can slink into the shadows and anonymously enjoy the music. This wasn't night, it wasn't dark, and there were no shadows for me to slink into. If I was going to dance, it was going to be straight up stag and in full view of everyone; including, potentially, familiar faces from my neighborhood.

But that was the thing - the thing that had me gawking from the sidelines, wanting to know what the hell this was - everyone looked strangely solo here. The vibe of the event was less nightclub and more festival; people weren't clustered up in the usual cliques and pairs one sees on the dance floors of LA. They were all just sort of floating about, mixing it up, as if they had all come independently with the intention of just dancing to great music. And everyone was into it. Like, really really into it.

I got myself a drink and hovered around the perimeter. Delighted. That's the word for what I felt, even just watching. It was such a casual, comfortable crowd, and they all looked to be having the time of their lives. Also? Diverse. I'd never seen anything like it. It's not a complaint or a criticism, but most of the clubs in LA are pretty homogenous. Here there was a strikingly wide representation of age, ethnicity, and orientation - the one common denominator being a clear love of the music.

It was fucking awesome. In fact, no lie: for a split second, I actually thought maybe I'd died and this was what heaven was like: a big dance party with people from every walk of life, giving zero fucks about anything other than the music.

Eventually, I sucked up my shyness and joined in. And I had a blast. It was just such a good vibes crowd; no one was there to impress, no dudes scamming on girls, no scenester bullshit. I met some really cool people, too: a twenty-something couple that was boycotting Pride (they feel it's become too commercialized and expensive); a flannel-clad, barefaced woman - forty if she was a day - who had by far the best moves of anyone; a fifty+ dude who neither stopped smiling nor dancing for the entire three hours I spent there. Near the end I did have a slight run in with a pushy kid who didn't understand the meaning of No thanks, I'm good, but overall? Great, positive energy and fantastic music.

Before I left I had a short conversation with one of the DJs who told me more about what this was: an underground dance club that holds different events throughout town, all the time - this was one of their more public offerings. The only reason it was here, tonight, was that the scheduled venue fell through; it was a last-minute booking. Was I on Facebook? That was the best way to keep abreast of future goings-on (for the weekly public events). I told him I wasn't, not really, but that I would manage to check it out anyway. Then he told me the name of another website to Google. And Google I did, later that night. And oh boy, was I tickled when I found myself reading the mission statement of an invitation-only, semi-secret dance club to which I applied for membership (I had to fill out an ironically rigorous online form detailing the when and how of when I was invited) and to which I was accepted, and for which I am now in possession of a legit, bar-code having membership card that arrived by post a week later. Hot damn.

So now would probably be a good time to acknowledge the obvious, and that which Mason said when I told him the story: "Um, isn't the first rule of Underground Dance Club that you don't talk about Underground Dance Club?" LOL. Yes. Yes, it probably is. And yet here I am blogging about it. Coupla things: the website is pretty minimalist and low key, and makes it clear the group's distaste for velvet ropes, bottle service, and other scenester baloney. But it's also a public website, and not particularly hard to find. We're talking Lincoln Tunnel underground, not depths-of-Moria underground. And from what I gather from subsequent conversations (because, yep, I've already been to another event), it's less about being exclusionary than it is about hyping the club up for the fun of it. I mean, money and a lot of thought has been invested into these materials, which, CIRCLE OF TRUST, PEOPLE, Imma show you a bit of now:



Awesome, right? Too fun, getting that in the mail. I mean, glassine envelope? Star confetti? Rad. And better yet, there's since been a ZOMGwork-ish development the details of which I'm keeping mum about in my usual way, but involves me getting to do a bit of writing! And show attending! Woo to the hoo!

And that is the humpday report from Neverland, where we don't grow up until they pry the hot pink membership cards from our cold, dead hands.