There may no bigger fan of music from the ’80s in L.A. or O.C. than Danny Sanchez. After frequenting teen-club environments such as Studio K and Cloud 9 at Knott’s Berry Farm and Videopolis at Disneyland as a kid, the Anaheim DJ (who began his career at 13 years old) felt an immediate connection to the new wave genre — its synthy, dancey nuances and themes that ranged from dark and seductive to campy and care-free. For Sanchez — and really his peers in Gen X — the sounds of the ’80s provided an outlet, a connection and an escape from the drudgery of daily life, with the fashion and imagery of the era creating a perfect complement, especially in an after-dark environment.
Though he started in the early ’80s spinning at parties, clubs and school dances, it wasn’t until 17 years later that Sanchez decided to promote his own night. But unlike his peers, he didn’t move on musically. “All my other DJ friends started playing ’90s [music] and doing rave stuff,” he remembers. “But my love for the ’80s — I never let it go.”
He opened his first gathering, called ’80s Club Addiction, at an old strip club in 2000; it quickly outgrew the space, so he moved it to Hully Gully in Downey, where it’s still going strong today. But his life-long dream was to open his own ’80s-themed venue, and after getting investments from family members, he was able to take his shot. “My mom and dad were the reason why I was able to start the clubs because they took out a mortgage on their house,” he says gratefully. “This was my dream and I knew I wouldn’t let them down. I promised to pay them back and I was able to a lot quicker than we expected.”
Today, Sanchez is the proud owner of no less than four all-’80s-themed dance clubs: the New Wave Restaurant & Bar in Bellflower, Totally ’80s Bar & Grille in Fullerton, Club ’80s Bar & Grille in Fullerton and That ’80s Bar in Montclair. His venues might be off the beaten path for people living in central Los Angeles, but for nostalgic dance fans they’re worth the trek, especially since he often books the actual acts who had hits back in the day. Everyone from Flock of Seagulls to Missing Persons to Dramarama has played his bright, retro-decorated clubs, and “they always want to come back and they tell other bands my clubs are their favorite places to play,” he says. “The fans here appreciate them the most.”
It’s not just Sanchez’s bookings that his customers appreciate, though. They’re happy his venues exist at all. The areas he opens up in often don’t have a lot going on in terms of nightlife, as they’re mostly quiet L.A. and O.C. suburbs. He and his wife Cynthia (whom he credits for helping in every area of the business) promote every venue heavily each week, with flyers and social media. They offer rotating DJs, live music, food and vibrant visuals that take older fans back in time and attract new ones too. “We can’t stop and we won’t stop,” he says adamantly. “There are a lot of people out there who still love the ’80s and always will no matter what year it is.”