If you haven't already, get yourself down to Monday Social at least once in your Los Angeles life.
If ever there was a weekday time machine back to Saturday at midnight, its name is Monday Social. The loss of reality's road markers — it's a school night, and you're surrounded by full-on party monsters — is disconcerting.
I've seen bottles of champagne palmed and guzzled like beer on the packed-like-a-festival-main-stage dance floor. I forgot it was a Monday until being deposited on the street after 3 a.m: What just happened? Do I still have my wallet? Why is there lipstick on my shoe?
Monday Social, celebrating its 20th year and by far the longest-running electronic dance music party in Los Angeles, is a point of pride for any Angeleno with out-of-town friends to show around. Yeah, this is how we do any old night in L.A.
The event's popularity was hard-earned and much deserved. I've known the founders, Freddie Be and Mick Cole, since they started Monday Social as a laid-back soiree on the second floor of defunct French eatery Louis XIV 20 years ago.
Back then it really was a social, a gathering place for dance music industry insiders who could gossip, smoke on the patio, and listen to Scott Hardkiss drop Schooly D's "P.S.K., What Does It Mean?" in the middle of a house set. That vibe has long since given way to sheer bacchanalia, a product of EDM's explosion in the music festival world.
The duo is moving next week from Sound Nightclub to Project LA in part as an effort to try to tap into its original vibe. If plans pan out, there will be more depth (of the kind displayed by DJs like Danny Howells and Hernan Cattaneo) and fewer hand-raising drops.
Cole says he wants to bring the industry crowd back while making the night more laid-back, less "spring break with an expense account."
"We're definitely not about the VIP bottle-service crowd," he says. "We got tired of that. The club [Sound] wanted these people because they drive money through the venue. We're more about a beer and maybe a lil' toke on the patio."
Let's stop the conversation here: All props must go to Sound for being the right size club at the right time. With 500 capacity and a Funktion-One sound system, it was the little venue that could. Monday Social's move from the 800-plus Playhouse down the street also decreased marketing stress for the promoters and allowed the floor to be packed more of the time.
That's a good thing.
But it presented a few issues for Monday Social. Sound replaced the Funktion-One rig (EDM people just fawn over these things) with a Pioneer system, which Cole says did not sound as good. It emphasized bottle service which, frankly, attracts douchebags who often could care less about good music. And it started booking the same DJs on weekends, which likely made it more difficult for Monday Social to stand out and get customers, even at a much-lower Monday cover price ($10 to $20).
The latest move will help Monday Social distinguish itself from a sameness that has pervaded Los Angeles nightlife. The formula of bottle service and familiar tunes is clearly wearing on the market.
At the same time, the EDM explosion has already forced Monday Social's organizers to dig deeper for DJs they can afford. The days when the promoters could nab a superstar in town for a bigger Saturday night gig are mostly long gone. The result is that Monday Social will be more relaxed, more underground, and more real.
"We had to stretch out and get more A-list talent" at Sound, Cole said. "But we specialize in more in up-and-coming and underground talent. That's what we'll try to do at Project LA."
Chris Kasteler, director of operations at Boulevard Nightlife Group, which owns Project LA and other clubs, says bring it on. The club has a Funktion-One system as well as the ability to rock until 4 a.m.
"We're excited to have some truly amazing and talented artists come through Project LA," Kasteler says. "We haven't had that yet."
He says the club is willing to let Monday Social experiment with a deeper roster of house DJs, even if they won't always pack the place.
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"It's a longstanding and very successful brand with great people behind it," he said. "They have our full support. We're in it for the long haul."
Monday Social launches at Project LA Monday, Jan. 18 with &ME and Anton Tumas at 6356 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. 21+. More info.