Your hair is plastered to the nape of your neck, your shirt's sticking to your back and your eyelashes are barely shielding your eyes from sweat. Oh, and you don't care. This is Funkmosphere, the weekly "no cover, no velvet rope, and no doorman with a clipboard" party in a shoebox of a club near the heart of scenic Culver City (yes, near where the award-winning rag you're reading gets made).
Remember when Joaquin Phoenix "gave up" acting for music? Trailed by Casey Affleck, who was filming the stunt for the documentary I'm Still Here, Phoenix debuted his rap career at Funkmosphere — but that's about as Hollywood as it gets every Monday night at Carbon Bar. "Nobody's trippin', nobody's squeezin' asses. I try to create a respectful atmosphere," says founder and host Dâm-Funk, L.A.'s own ambassador of the get-down.
Dâm started the party in 2006 after his fabled Thursday night residency at Carbon, called 1983, ended. "They were trying to get more established music for the weekend crowd, so they put 1983 on ice," Dâm says, "but they liked what I was doing, so they said, 'Hey, we got a Monday open.' I was, like, 'MONDAY?' "
Never mind that — although some nights only a handful of people would show up, Funkmosphere kept drawing a faithful crowd of poppers, lockers, breakers and people who just like to get funked up with a "concentrated, uncut" dose of tracks from masters like Chic, Slave and Kleeer. "Steve Arrington came and did two songs one night. I like sophisticated funk, and Slave is my favorite group. For him to bless the mic, while my favorite DJ, [Stones Throw impresario] Peanut Butter Wolf, was there, too — that's the highlight of Funkmosphere for me," Dâm says.
Along with resident DJs Ron Crockett (aka DJ Randy Watson), Billy Goods, Laroj and Matt Respect, Dâm spins a grab bag of funkdified goodies, ranging from boogie to modern soul to Italo-disco. The common bond, besides grooves that make you move till you're drenched, is that all records behind the DJ booth are vinyl, and (nerd alert!) most are the original pressings.
A lot of parties may promise that they can't, they won't, and they don't stop — Funkmosphere actually delivers, again and again.
Funkmosphere happens every Monday night, free, at Carbon Bar, 9300 Venice Blvd., Culver City.
KRISTIAN HOFFMAN'S 10 RULES FOR BEING A FOP IN L.A.
Kristian Hoffman is The Man Who Fell to L.A. Like the alienated alien played by David Bowie in that fantastic Nicolas Roeg film, Hoffman landed here years ago from a different planet, one called "No Wave NYC." Back East, he was part of the strange downtown scene that spawned James Chance and the Contortions, Lydia Lunch and Klaus Nomi; with punk gay icon Lance Loud, he led cult band the Mumps. In California, our polymath became a respected album-art designer, stylish musical director and collaborator (Ann Magnuson, Rufus Wainwright, countless others), and a member of the long-running Velvet Hammer Burlesque at El Rey. He recently released an expansive collection of tunes, Fop, a fitting word for one of our most sophisticated local decadents. On Friday, Feb. 4, Hoffman presents "A Fop Formal" at Hollywood's Steve Allen Theater. Guest performers include Magnuson, Prince Poppycock and True Blood's Todd Lowe. We asked the fop of the hour for advice on how to be prepared for such an event, and he graciously provided us with this list:
1. Only drive in Imperial horse-drawn carriages or Scion xBs. Otherwise your powdered wig may not fit.
2. When it is warm, and one occasionally must venture outdoors, no need to dress down. "Casual" is for weaklings and heterosexuals. Just walk very slowly.
3. Peach is a perfectly suitable flavor for a vodka drink. Apple is not.
4. Even in a post-Depp world, it is still possible to occasionally quote Lewis Carroll, as long as you temper it with some Duchamp or Gervais.
5. A true fop does not "sun." He remains steadfastly beneath the palm fronds while the hoi polloi inexplicably indulge in an appalling baking ritual.
6. Even though no furnishings produced after 1911 are suitable for a fop, obviously it is not possible for every aspirant fop to have quality antiques. Thus it is very important to keep the shades drawn and the lighting dim. The dark imparts youth to skin and age to reproductions.
7. Electroliers are acceptable as long as they are complemented by a gasolier, because every person of quality knows that the fad for the electric may not last.
8. If one must be photographed, stand in front of something vintage or shiny. Preferably a member of parliament or a royal.
9. It is perfectly acceptable to yawn as a gesture of social discourse, as long as one performs the act behind a lace kerchief.
10. When called to appear on the great stage, one must never affect humility, because no one will be convinced. And it is never proper to encourage the act of "clapping along," nor of "singing along." You have come to dazzle, never to commune.
"A Fop Formal" at the Steve Allen Theater, Center for Inquiry–West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri., Feb. 4, 8 p.m. (323) 666-4268, steveallentheater.com.
OUT AND ABOUT
Only the good die young. J Dilla — the Detroit producer who was a founding member of the Soulquarians collective (along with Questlove, D'Angelo and James Poyser) and is heralded as one of the most influential producers in hip-hop — passed away five years ago this month. But House Shoes, Dilla's DJ, is letting neither his memory nor his music go gentle into that good night. Along with friends like Mayer Hawthorne, Dilated Peoples DJ Babu and Boombox's Inka One, he's celebrating the man whose deeply soulful signature sound turned albums like the Pharcyde's Labcabincalifornia and Common's Like Water for Chocolate into shimmering, near-transcendent experiences. Get there early:
Raise It Up: A Celebration of the Life and Legacy of James "J Dilla" Yancey is sure to spill into the street.
WHAT: Raise It Up: A Celebration of the Life and Legacy of James "J Dilla" Yancey
WHEN: Feb. 7, 9 p.m.-2 a.m.
WHERE: Little Temple, 4519 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; $5 before 10:30, $10 after. (323) 660-4540.