Cure and the Cause's moment of viral notoriety played out like a game of telephone. It started when Kenny Summit, co-owner of the Glendale house music club, took to Facebook with a decree: "No more laptops in the DJ booth." It wasn't an outright ban. Summit made exceptions for turntablists, who often use programs such as Serato with vinyl to control the set, and live performances. It was followed by a series of comments from Summit and the venue on what exactly the decision meant and why it was made. Still, as the post was shared and reshared, it took on a whole different meaning as DJs discussed the very nature of their art form. Well-known DJs — among them Richie Hawtin, Seth Troxler and Junior Sanchez — entered the conversation via Twitter and Facebook. In a matter of days, the 4-month-old nightclub became known on the global dance-music circuit, but it wasn't for its talent roster or commitment to house music. Cure and the Cause was now at the center of an old-school vs. new-school DJ debate.
Tech-loving DJs griped that Cure and the Cause was behind the times. Vinyl junkies went on about how new DJs can't mix. It was a spirited reaction to a situation with far less exciting roots. Summit had been upset with DJs who were interrupting sets to plug and unplug gear and weren't leaving the house equipment the way they found it. More than a week after Cure and the Cause had ignited a social media inferno, Summit says he has stopped checking Twitter. It's been a weird string of days, he says, but he's good-natured about it. While a lot of the comments online have been quite negative, the club also is getting a surge of DJs sending over their demos. "I think it's an example of any press being good press," Summit says.
There are a lot of rules at Cure and the Cause. You'll spot a list on a wall that separates the bar from the dance floor. Management doesn't have much use for cellphones on the dance floor, although those are reluctantly permitted around the bar. There are no ins-and-outs. If you're going to step out to the car, you'll have to pay the cover charge again. On the DJ booth, there's a can't-miss sign that is emblazoned: "No Requests." Inside the booth, there's a reminder to keep your drinks off the gear. Those who have ever tried to use a booze-sticky mixer will understand why that rule exists.
"It's all designed to keep the crowd having a good time," Summit says. While rules and fun typically don't go hand-in-hand, at Cure and the Cause, it seems to work. Sure, you'll probably see a few smartphone cameras flash, but it's not like the parties where you dance on your toes and crane your neck while watching the DJ through someone's iPhone screen. In fact, on a recent Saturday night, people weren't staring at the DJs. They were dance-walking out onto the floor and disco-calling as they thrust their hips to the 4/4 rhythm. At 10:15, the small club was filling up nicely and a piano house cut had summoned more bodies to gather under a disco ball so large that it resembles the Death Star.
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With partners Linsey Herrera and Mike "DJ Fido" Reyes, Summit has created an unassuming house-music destination. Cure and the Cause is tiny and tucked into the row of restaurants and sports bars that surround the Alex Theatre on Brand Boulevard. While the goofy, chalk-scrawled booze jokes might lead one to think this is just an ordinary neighborhood watering hole, the interior tells a different story. The bar and DJ booth are covered in Keith Haring wallpaper, a cool nod to the '80s art world that intersected with burgeoning club culture. Hallowed images of late house-music pioneers Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles look down upon the DJ booth.
The bar is steeped in a deep love of nightlife. Summit, 41, started DJing when he was a teenager in New Jersey and spent years working in New York's club world before moving to Los Angeles four years ago. He also runs Good for You Records, a house-centric label, and promotes the party Disco Does It. Similarly, the crowd that comes here is looking for a specific sound. Summit notes that their customers aren't typically walking in off the street. They're coming for the promotions and DJs.
There's no VIP treatment and cover charges tend to be fairly low. Meanwhile, the club attracts an impressive roster of talent. Sandra Collins, one of the first female DJs to attain global fame, is a resident here. L.A. rave veteran Steve Loria played here recently too. The dance-music leaders aren't just behind the decks here: During a recent visit to Cure and the Cause, producer Todd Edwards and DJ/former Dee-Lite frontwoman Lady Miss Kier stopped by the bar to say hello to Summit.
Cure and the Cause holds only about 200 people, and the intimacy that comes with the venue's size has its benefits even for well-known DJs. "They can be a little more creative here," Summit says. For the team behind Cure and the Cause, a small venue with low overhead gives them a certain amount of creative leeway as well. "I have the luxury to do what I want here," he says, "so I can do a venue that's dedicated to the preservation of house music."