The Deep End: (Underground) Dance Music in L.A.
It's easy to get lost in the surreal beauty of Los Angeles and its sunny beaches. It's easy to get saturated with all the on-goings of celebrity life in the entertainment capital of the world. It's easy to consistently diner out and savor all the culinary delights of the city's multinational food scene. What flies under the radar, at least for the most part, is the up and coming L.A. nightlife scene for dance music. After spending a few months studying in Amsterdam and travels to Berlin (the new techno capital of the world), I'd say L.A. is on the rise internationally as an acclaimed hotspot for dance music--house, techno, tech-house, disco, ambient, minimal, you name it. Between all the night clubs, outdoor & poolside venues, and warehouses, L.A. has plenty of atmospheres conducive to grooving. If those more regular local venues aren't enough, the major music festivals in the area--Coachella, Lightning in a Bottle, Woogie Weekend, FYF Fest, Hard Summer and Day of the Dead, Dirtybird Campout, Desert Hearts, a Burning Man contingent, and more--are attracting swarms of avid and avant-garde music listeners. With all the clubs, warehouses, and festivals the events production teams at work in L.A.'s dance music scene are putting on a clinic of events year round. Without further ado, here's a little breakdown of some of the popular venues and festivals as well as a synthesis of the productions teams whose events you should be on the lookout for.
**For a more complete listing of ongoing events in Los Angeles check out:
- http://www.laweekly.com/concerts **
- https://www.eventbrite.com/d/ca--los-angeles/music--events/ **
- https://www.residentadvisor.net/events/us/losangeles **
Production Teams to Look For
A Welsh based high quality underground electronica event productions team at the forefront of current trends in electronic dance music.
An eclectic menagerie of wild renegades who originally gathered in the Mojave Desert for their festival and are now a bona fide music label & events planner. Their events are always corybantic and vibrant emphasizing a connection with nature "away from babylon", an emphasis on self-expression, and happiness in community. House, techno, and love, yeah baby.
"Drown in my beats." So goes the Incognito motto, and for good reason. Deep house, Techno, Minimal, Tech house--beats in all varieties of genre and style. With underground events every so often, Incognito prides itself on bringing new artists to LA to spin their sound and drown Angelenos in dance music.
Another boisterous, vibrant production team curating musical journeys through space & time. Midnight Lovers throws a lot of underground old school events that are reminiscent of early days in the L.A. EDM scene: secret warehouse parties, scavenger hunts to find party locations, and some bumpin', funky DJs to cap it all off.
LA's premier and primary pansexual party host. Events at Los Globos, Union, The Belasco Theater, and other locations around LA that feature house & disco DJs both local and foreign. Rhonda parties get down and wild, and often feature a very diverse LGBT crowd.
A Berlin-based EDM news production website, music label, production and events coordinator, even festival curator. XLR8R is always informing the EDM community about trends in culture, style, tech, and music. Look for their events conjoined with Cyclone--can't miss!
The Echo & Echoplex
A pair of sister theatres in Echo Park/Silverlake with a famous history in the city of L.A. Famous artists who performed in the past include Radiohead, Jamie XX, Bob Moses and others. The Echo theatres offer a balance between bigger theatres (like The Wiltern or Fonda) and a smaller intimate space, and their all black interior design keeps things simple and music-centered.
El Rey Theatre
A smaller, cozier venue with more limited capacity, the El Rey Theatre offers a more intimate concert experience, showcasing artists of diverse musical backgrounds, many of which are more up-and-coming and have yet to break through the barrier into superstardom.
The former home of the L.A. Stock Exchange transformed into a cavernous, avant-garde night club with multiple floors and multiple bars. Located in LA's financial district, Exchange offers a more upscale and refined night club experience with A-list dance music acts from booty-shaking house gurus like Claude VonStroke to bangin' tech-house DJs like Green Velvet to poppy deep house artist such as Duke Dumont. Just a tad bad & bougie.
Another industrial warehouse space throwing some bonkers Insomniac events led warehouse parties. The man behind the scenes, Pasquale Rotella (chief at Insomniac) has been involved in the L.A. dance music scene for two decades now, since its early origins in the '90s, so it's safe to say the guy knows what he's doing. Just recently he launched a warehouse party series at Factory 93, a massive industrial, underground space where the bass can thump, the bodies can sway, and the lights are down low...all night long.
The Fonda Music Box Theatre
The Fonda is a Hollywood based theatre with a history dating back to the 1920s. Over the near century of its existence, the Fonda has hosted live musical events from all genres, film screenings, radio broadcasts, and more--a key entertainment ground in the entertainment capital of the world. In addition to its historical value for the city of L.A., The Fonda is a beautifully designed Spanish Colonial Revival style theatre with an overlooking mezzanine terrace with plush red seating, checkered dance floor, floor-to-ceiling wall murals, high ceilings, an altogether regal vibe. Musical guests of the past include Radiohead, The Black Eyed Peas, Nicolas Jaar, and more!
A West Hollywood poolside hotel sky bar offering a comparable selection of artists as the Standard DTLA and a comparable crowd. Their events cover a broad range of musical artists from disco to house to techno and are often set during the day time to maximize the hedonistic enjoyment of southern California sunshine.
A relatively newer space in Hollywood, Le Jardin is an elegant lounge & club with plenty of plush sofas and chairs to lounge on as well as an open-air dance floor to boogie. being in Hollywood though, Le Jardin has a penchant for attracting a sometimes more bougie crowd from the wealthier parts of L.A.
Out in the L.A. Arts District (east L.A.) lies Lot 613, two expansive industrial warehouses with an adjoining courtyard. While this venue plays host to cinema events, fashion shows, art shows, and more, most weekends it hosts techno warehouse parties that offer a quasi-European rave vibe.
One of L.A.'s more noteworthy night clubs, Sound--the name says it all--is a vibrant night club with an exceptional Funktion One sound system providing the perfect acoustic environment for dance music. Their lineup is consistently killer and features some of the biggest names in dance music. While the music is stellar, I will say Sound provides a very stereotypical uppity club atmosphere and the crowd can be pretty meh sometimes. Nevertheless, it's worth a visit purely to groove out under their shark disco ball, yeah a shark disco ball, so epic.
The Standard Hotel in Downtown L.A. plays host to various dance music gatherings (more in the spring & summer). An elevated poolside venue offers plenty of areas to lounge as well as to dance while enjoying some bumping dance music and the California sunshine.
Located in L.A.'s Koreatown on the corner of Wilshere & Western is the art deco designed Wiltern Theatre. Since 1931 and its origins as a Vaudeville and Warner Bros theater, the Wiltern has been an historic cultural and musical monument in L.A. hosting a variety of entertainment events from theater to music to comedy to art shows to private parties. The venue itself is worth scoping out for its historic value, its artistic and architectural value, or simply for the selection of funky, wunky musical acts.
There's a few other clubs worth mentioning--Avalon, Create, 1 Oak, Lure, etc--that are all overwhelming, sensationalized night clubs that face-fuck you with typically sub-par and aggressive music, light shows and visuals, and obnoxious crowds there to simply be part of the scene.