What Is the Los Angeles Warehouse Scene?

Making Shapes warehouse party
Making Shapes warehouse party
Allen Al-Attar/ Last Night's Elixir Photography

No one denies that Los Angeles knows how to party, but dance music fans who aren't interested in bouncers and bottle service or sharing a stadium with a herd of teenagers have had to look harder for their fix.

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Lucky for them in the last few years a new wave of parties has sprung up, bringing internationally respected DJs to L.A. and creating a burgeoning scene that is still somewhat underground, with chest-rattling bass emerging from converted factories outside of Chinatown or empty warehouses just south of the 10 Freeway.

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Taking dance music out of the club isn't a new concept here, of course. L.A. was a hotbed of rave culture in the early '90s, and continues to support long-running parties like DJ Harvey's idiosyncratic Sarcastic Disco, the techno-friendly Droid, the intimate Music For Dancers and more.

Still, until fairly recently it was unlikely you could catch a night like September 29th, when you could catch Brazilian Chilean genre-shifter Matias Aguayo at Making Shapes, head east dark techno maestro Andy Stott in a downtown warehouse at a party thrown by recently-opened record store Mt. Analog, and then finish the night at Sarcastic Disco, in a hangar-like warehouse behind a go-kart track in Burbank.

That's the beauty of the burgeoning scene -- some nights festival headliners Simian Mobile Disco will spin a set for 400 people instead of 4,000, and on others underground Berlin fixture Move D will set up shop, both likely at a converted industrial space somewhere on the periphery of downtown.

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The promoter who threw these events asked not to be named, as her parties don't always have the necessary permits and have been shut down by the police before. But she says that in recent years growing audiences have meant that these events can bring in higher quality international talent, and the artists' labels are helping fund some of them.


But there's inherent risk in the scene -- operating semi-legally means potentially eating thousands of dollars if you get shut down or something goes wrong. Still, if there's enough demand, promoters will take the risk.

And all told it's a pretty good deal for the serious dance fan. Fueled by Soundcloud, social media and dance music's continued mainstreaming, it's easier than ever to find music that was once obscure. And while some parties you have to find on your own, many events submit listings to Resident Advisor's calendar.

What's great about the warehouse scene is that it provides venues fiting the characters of these genres. Dance music isn't meant to be blasted at an audience who are all facing a stage, and it's not always best served by giant, legit venues created for other purposes, either. DIY venues recall the atmosphere of the underground raves of yesteryear -- only with amazing talent from all over the world, on a regular basis.

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