Hollywood venue King King, long established as a go-to spot for L.A. househeads, is closing its doors, at least for now. The venue is set to shutter on Jan. 31, 2016.
Word broke via a post from DJ/promoter Adam Auburn, who throws his Soul & Tonic parties at the venue. In a public Facebook post, Auburn wrote:
“Personally, I was so inspired by King King's uniquely pure house music vibe, the warmth of the red glow on the brick walls, the feeling of being on a dancefloor where every single person around you, no matter what race, creed, or orientation, were all dancing together, free of judgement [sic], free of worries, deeply immersed in the raw, uncut sounds of true house music, I had no choice but to literally pack everything I owned, and move cross-country by way of Baltimore to be a part of this rare house music mecca.”
Auburn told L.A. Weekly that Soul & Tonic is searching for a new home, but King King was something special for him. “I've been all over the country, and there are very few places like it,” he said.
Owner Mario Melendez first launched King King in 1988 on 6th Street and La Brea, primarily as a live music venue. A decade later, he began to settle into the Hollywood Boulevard digs, which opened in 2001.
Initially, Melendez's goal was to use the venue for theater projects. While King King has continued showcasing such performances during the week, it quickly became known as a weekend home for house and other DJ-oriented parties. “House people were really receptive to what I was doing,” he told L.A. Weekly by phone. “I was happy to give them a place to congregate.”
From Robtronik's Compression parties in the '00s to today's Deep and Soul & Tonic events, King King has consistently been a home for top-notch parties and world class talent without the flash of the mega-clubs that soon came to take over the neighborhood.
“It's an institution for house music in L.A., just like Smart Bar in Chicago,” Alan Agbayani, whose Incognito parties came to prominence at King King, said via email. “It never sold out and never opened its front doors to Hollywood, literally and figuratively, since you could only enter in the back through the parking lot.”
In our 2015 Best of L.A. issue, we declared that King King was the “Best Non-Douchey Club in Hollywood,” a reputation that Melendez admitted was by design. “It's not about who you are and how famous you are,” he said of his club.
But, in the end, Melendez said, King King was “not the right fit” for Hollywood Boulevard. The neighborhood changed. “The boulevard has gone more towards open air bars and sports bars.”
While the club will close on Jan. 31, it's not the end of the road for King King. Melendez says that he's looking for a new space, possibly downtown. Ideally, he wants a venue that can host theatrical performances early in the evening and DJ events later in the night.
Until then, Auburn's Soul & Tonic will host its final night (and four-year anniversary party) at King King with DJ Mark Farina on Saturday, Dec. 5.
“Many of you know even more than I do what King King has meant to this city … to this scene,” Auburn wrote on Facebook. “So many memories, so many friendships, so much amazing music. … So please, tell a house music loving friend the news. And we will see you on the dancefloor, one last time.”
Soul & Tonic 4-year anniversary with Mark Farina, Ricardo Torres and David Bullock happens at King King on Saturday, Dec. 5. Tickets and more info.
[Note: An earlier version of this article included a photo incorrectly labeled as Deep at King King. It was actually from a Deep night at Sound. We regret the error.]