If there’s anyone well-equipped to comment on the status of the underground scene in Los Angeles, it’s Droog. The LA-based trio have been a staple of the city’s house and techno contingent for years now, thanks in part to their globally renowned imprint Culprit, as well as their beloved rooftop parties at the Standard.
More recently, they’ve become a crucial component of LA’s premier warehouse series, Prototype, at Downtown’s Lot 613. In the past year alone, for instance, they’ve brought everyone from Chris Liebing to David August to the intimate events space. On Friday, July 22, they’re gearing up for one of their biggest shows yet with Innervisions ringleaders, Âme. One half of the pair, Kristian Beyer, will perform a coveted DJ set.
Ahead of the event, Andrei Osyka from Droog has provided us with with a guest editorial on what Los Angeles needs in order to become a world-class techno destination.
Tickets to Âme at Lot 613 are available here.
“Our local scene is, arguably, at its most vibrant point in a long time…possibly, ever. The choice of parties and types of dance music on offer is tremendous, almost every little sub-genre or sound is represented and it all keeps growing. I think we are at a critical mass where the supply is almost starting to exceed the demand.
But the same reasons why LA has never really become a true dance music capital still persist. There is no lack of enthusiasm from party-going crowds or the shortage of decent promoters, it’s the overall nightlife infrastructure that hasn’t changed enough to provide the launch pad for LA.
In the end, it boils down to two main issues: the difficult licensing and permitting environment – just a general lack of support from our city – and the fact that LA doesn’t really land itself to vibrant clubbing/nightlife culture, because of its layout, lack of viable public transport options, underdeveloped street culture. All the things that make New York or Berlin or London natural dance music centers, LA lacks to some degree.
Licensing/permitting is probably the most significant and, potentially, changeable thing. What other major nightlife city has what we deal with here? 2 a.m. liquor law is draconian and completely unreasonable. Many of the problems promoters deal with start and end there. With no alcohol sales allowed past that time, venue owners are just not properly motivated to create spaces that are right for proper dance music parties. The extreme difficulty getting venues to stay open past 2am is a huge negative factor…when most cities in the world are just getting started, LA shuts down. You can count the venues that try to stay open until 4am – still a relatively early closing time – on fingers of one hand (LOT 613, Sound, King King).
Connected to that is the problem that almost no venue is owned and operated by music people, something you see a lot more of in Europe. There are no small or medium size dance clubs or bars that came organically from within the scene, that are not beholden to huge financial pressure. Nightlife is completely alcohol sales driven, which, often times lead to frustrating party environment. Also, the city of LA seems to have a general mistrust of dance music culture, probably lumping us all together as “rave.” This forces quite a bit of our scene underground, more so than any other major city i know. But that carries many risks and proper investment into underground parties is tough because of the risk of getting shut down.
There is hope, though: the rise of Downtown LA as a fresh alternative to the usual Hollywood nightlife is a big thing. Downtown is the closest Los Angeles has to an actual urban environment. Public transport is starting to improve just a little, Uber becoming a convenient option, plus its a relatively compact area, there is some new vibrancy here…if the city actually compromised and designated Downtown LA as a nightlife/clubbing-friendly district and allowed for more relaxed liquor and event permitting, we can have the real revival here. There is hunger for good music that keeps growing and there is now a whole range of promoters who love the scene and want to contribute properly. While we may not become Berlin or New York or London, LA can still have the dance music culture it deserves. Hopefully sooner than later.”
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