At Bootie L.A., Mashup Culture Is Alive and Well Every Saturday Night
R.A.I.D. (Random Acts of Irreverent Dance) performs at a recent Bootie L.A., with resident DJ ShyBoy, right.
It was exactly 12 years ago, in July 2005, that mashup party Bootie L.A. opened at the Echo. It was the beginning of the mashup craze, when Girl Talk's pop-music collages were just starting to catch on and even wedding DJs were likely to have "Livin' on a Prayer" mixed with a TLC song in their bag of tricks. Mashups have since faded in popularity — or at least they get less media attention — but Bootie L.A. is still going strong.
Bootie L.A. is the brainchild of DJs Deidre Roberts, aka Mysterious D, and Adrian Roberts, aka Adrian A. The two are 50/50 business partners and also were married for 14 years before divorcing a few years ago. "Around 2002, we started DJing. Our music tastes were always very eclectic, and our DJ sets reflected that, exploring a wide variety of genres over the course of an evening," Adrian A explains. Around the same time, thanks to advances in music production software, mashups were just beginning to emerge. "We fell in love with mashup culture immediately, as it embodied the cross-genre, era-spanning sensibilities we were spinning anyway," she says. In the U.K. these new mashups were called bootlegs, which is how the Bootie parties got their name.
The first Bootie party was held in San Francisco in 2003, but it wasn't long before Adrian A and Mysterious D thought about expanding to other cities. "We loved what we were doing so much in San Francisco, we had a hunger to bring it to more places — almost like mashup evangelists, if you will," Mysterious D says. "We made the seven-hour drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles every month, and slept on couches."
While Bootie SF and L.A. may be sisters, they definitely aren't identical twins. "Bootie L.A. is the wilder little sister to Bootie SF, the sister that goes to all the best parties in ridiculous outfits with an attitude of non-pretension and an [aim] for full-throttle fun," Mysterious D says.
Since its opening in 2005, Bootie L.A. has been hosted by numerous venues, from the Echo to the Regent to its current location at Los Globos in Silver Lake, where it's been held every Saturday night since January. Despite the change in locations, one aspect has remained the same: the eclectic crowd. "We always like to say that the crowd is as mashed up as the music," says Adrian A. "Pop music is a great leveler. One stupid song can unite a room. But we also go to great lengths to show how everyone is welcome. It's definitely not like a typical Hollywood party. It's very unpretentious and 'come-as-you-are.' We encourage people to let their hair down, let their freak flag fly, dance their asses off and sing unapologetically at the top of their lungs."
While Adrian A mentions pop music, she doesn't only mean top 40. As Mysterious D explains, pop music comes in "all sorts of flavors," from hip-hop to rock, and Bootie L.A. definitely mashes up music from every era and genre, not just current chart hits. "A typical night will feature songs people know and love from the past 40 years, sometimes even more, along with current hits in all genres and eras of music," she says.
Adrian A and Mysterious D, as well as any of their resident DJs such as ShyBoy, often play their own mashups; they work on their pop concoctions well ahead of time. "Just as most music producers and big-name DJs of any music genre don't show up to a gig to create the tracks in their sets live, true mashup DJs don't either," Adrian A explains. "These tracks are meticulously crafted and produced, just like any other piece of music, and then played at the club and mixed like any DJ mixes tracks in a set."
Bootie co-founder Adrian Roberts aka DJ Adrian A
Bootie L.A. is perhaps one of the city's most inclusive parties. Just as the night doesn't stick to any one music genre, there's no one type of attendee, either. On a recent "Pop Candy" night (they choose a theme every week, such as artist tribute nights, "Generation X vs. Millennials" or "Aprilween: Halloween in April"), the diversity on the dance floor was an awesome sight to see. Straight couples danced next to gay couples; friends of all different races danced together; people with all different body types let loose and just danced their, well, booties off.
It's perhaps this welcoming, inclusive vibe, more than anything else, that has kept Bootie L.A. going strong all these years, with packed crowds dancing to mashups like (to choose some examples from Pop Candy night) Lady Gaga's "Perfect Illusion" mixed with Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach" or Britney Spears' "Till The World Ends" with No Doubt's "Just a Girl." Says Mysterious D, "Because Bootie is using all genres, styles and eras of music, there is no one kind of audience, by the very nature of what we do. We think that makes for a much more fun, diverse party, where the only prerequisite is an open mind to something different that could go from shocking to mind-blowing."
Another fun aspect of Bootie L.A. is its go-go dancers, part of a troupe called R.A.I.D., which stands for Random Acts of Irreverent Dance. "They don't look like your typical Hollywood go-go dancers. They wear kooky costumes, and the troupe is radically inclusive, with dancers of all shapes and sizes and genders," explains Adrian A, who is non-binary, and only the 13th person in the United States to be legally recognized as such. "That vibe rubs off on the crowd as well. [I] wish every city's Bootie party had its own crazy dance crew like L.A.'s R.A.I.D. ... That's something special and unique to Bootie L.A."
R.A.I.D.'s Ramie Becker in action
R.A.I.D. was first created by an early fan and friend, Ramie Becker, and often recruits regular Bootie L.A. partygoers to join if they're interested. "It's about inclusivity," says Marko Tomic, who is currently the co-manager of R.A.I.D. and has been in the troupe for more than two years. "We have members from every walk of life, every body type. There's always been this sensibility that we come from the Island of Misfit Toys but we turn that randomness into power and live our truth unabashed for all to see. I believe that's why people celebrate us, because seeing that in us helps them see it in themselves."
It's clear that after 12 years of mashup parties, Bootie L.A. has become a staple in Los Angeles nightlife. So what do Mysterious D and Adrian A have to say to those who think that mashups were a fad that peaked five or six years ago? "The great thing about mashups is they're not really a fad. Are remixes a fad? See, mashups aren't really a musical genre, they're a production technique. So as pop music mutates and changes, so do mashups," Adrian A contends. "The key to Bootie's longevity has been that as a club concept, we've never been tied down to a specific music style or genre. As long as there are two (or more) songs put together to create a new singular creative song production, we can play it. Those are our only rules. So we can play the hottest current hits but also be a throwback party at the same time."
Adrian A adds that every time there's a lull in the mashup scene, a new wave of producers comes along with fresh material. "There's a steady stream of people getting into it and trying their hand at it. The software tools are easy to learn — it's the music songcraft and understanding the factors that make a truly good mashup that can be a bit harder," she says.
A R.A.I.D. dancer beckons Bootie L.A. fans to the dark side.
So where does the party go from here? "I've always said I would love to have a Bootie Mashup station on SiriusXM or a Bootie tent at a big music festival — just another avenue to showcase the amazingly creative mashups that producers are still making," Adrian A says. Mysterious D echoes her partner's sentiments but adds that she would like to take it even farther, perhaps creating an entire "Bootie Mashup festival bringing all things remix and mashup together in a brand new kind of festival experience."
Adrian A and Mysterious D seem to be on their way to achieving these goals, as they currently organize Bootie parties all over the country and around the world, from L.A. and San Francisco to New York and Seattle to London, Berlin and Rio de Janeiro.
While they love all their parties, they definitely have a soft spot for Bootie L.A. "Shhhh, don't tell San Francisco ... but Bootie L.A. is our favorite of all our Bootie parties! That's why both of us try to come here to DJ at it every chance we get," says Mysterious D. Adrian A definitely feels the same. "Bootie L.A. is the place to come for full-on, let loose, nonpretentious, ridiculous fun, showcasing the best mashups in the world."
Bootie L.A. goes down every Saturday night at Los Globos, including a special Comic-Con pre-party tonight and a 12-year anniversary party on July 15. $10 cover, 21 and over. More info at bootiemashup.com.
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