May is a big month for nightlife revelry, and as another year flies by, our calendars are once again filled with some familiar fetes: Cinco de Mayo fiestas, "May the 4th" Be With You dress-offs, Memorial Day BBQs. This month's guide highlights alternatives, in the truest sense of the word — uniquely themed parties celebrating diverse music genres and entertainment that are good enough to appeal to niches and masses.
Saturday, May 7
SOFT ROCK SATURDAY
Sometimes you just wanna have a spaz attack in da club, sweating up a storm, thumping, jumping or humping yourself into a feral, sticky mess. Other times, you just need to chill (and no, we don't mean “Netflix and ...”).
Soft Rock Saturday is the ultimate gathering of grooves to soothe. DJ Mara Schwartz (a former L.A. Weekly contributor from back in the day, currently a music publishing maven) knows her stuff, so don’t expect an ironic hipster deal. OK, the bearded, man-bun contingent will probably dig it, but with this gal at the helm, expect a more accessible yet thoughtful mix on the decks, a bona fide all-vinyl bonanza of cool retro sounds: hook-filled yacht rock, melodic soul jams and midtempo pop hits your mom used to love, which (with enough time passed) it’s finally cool to admit you like, too. You get the gist: Hall & Oates, Bread, Kenny Loggins, The Doobie Brothers, Christopher Cross, et al. So feather those tresses, order up a Bartles & Jaymes wine cooler and get ready for an afternoon (into early eve) delight. Food and drink available. At Resident, 428 S. Hewitt St., downtown. Free, 4-7 p.m., 21+. More info.
Friday, May 13
MODERN FUNK FEST
An exciting, exhaustive and simply epic night of funk music, this one should be a fierce mess of musical merriment, highlighting the genre’s origins and latest innovators, live and on the decks. Created in San Diego, MFF has gone on to throw down some biggie bashes in San Francisco and Los Angeles, arriving in our city for the first time last year. They’re back at it, and clearly they ain't playin’ around for their second L.A. party. Get a load of the lineup: Egyptian Lover, XL Middleton, Moniquea, Diamond Ortiz, Reality Jonez, Brian Ellis' Reflection, Shiro Schwarz, Hotthobo and Eddy Funkster.
If you’ve never caught Los Angeles–based electro legend Egyptian Lover live, all we can say is, you simply must. Performing a live DJ/MPC/808 set, Lover takes it back to where it all began and into the future as well, rocking his latest collaborations with funky newbies he inspired and new stuff he’s still pumping out to this day (check out his latest LP, 1984 , on his Egyptian Empire label). In addition to the influential headliner, the modern funksters featured onstage come from all over the country and beyond (Shiro Schwarz is from Mexico City). DJs Hotthobo and Eddy Funkster drop vinyl in between the live sets, and hot labels like Voltaire Records, MoFunk, Hobo Camp and Discogs will be selling stuff so you can funk up the floors at home. At The Echo, 1822 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park. $15-$25, 8:30 p.m., 21+. Tickets and more info.
Friday, May 20
MUSHROOM JAZZ 25TH ANNIVERSARY AT SOUL & TONIC
Homemade, Auburn Events and Underrated celebrate the 25th anniversary of Mushroom Jazz this week with a special DJ night featuring a five-hour set from the influential decksmith behind the series, Mark Farina. Farina’s signature Chicago house, acid jazz and downtempo mixes first emerged in Chicago, where his club output evolved from disco, soul and hip-hop to jazz-infused electronica. Mushroom Jazz was born on Farina’s turntables and the sound grew to incorporate urban West Coast flavors and clean yet intricate production. His Mushroom Jazz club night in San Francisco heightened his rep, and a CD series under the same name cemented it for dance-music lovers and would-be DJs for many years to come. Expect be-boppy beats and smooth, subtly techie treats, hypnotic house and soulful grooves for the duration of the evening. At Couture, 1640 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. $25, 10 p.m.-3 a.m., 21+. Tickets and more info.
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Sat., May 28
Lush started in the '90s in San Francisco and was reborn last year in L.A., when the party’s creator, Andrew Ableson, made the club’s reunion his makeshift wedding reception. It took place at the historic manse/creative events space HM 157, and by all accounts was a vivacious bacchanal that lived up to the NorCal original. One year later, Ableson is bringing back the bash’s retro/mod/psych/disco decadence to celebrate Memorial Day.
This will be a music mix to get down-and-dirty to. We’re talking '70s porno soundtracks, '50s Italian twist, '60s go-go stomps, Euro-frug, filmic funk jams and more wonderfully weird and grindy goodies. He’ll have DJs from both S.F. and L.A., including Señor Amor, Javi-en-Rose and DJ Otter-pops doing the damage. The bash’s bodacious midnight cabaret (a staple at the original soiree) will sex things up with provocative performances and sounds to keep the energy — and your eyes — popping, all emcee'd by Ableson and so far boasting artist/burlesque star Coco Ono, NYC cabaret performer Richard Rockstar and a “secret TV star duetting with him.” A house party full of friends you might not know when you walk in but will remember forever after, Lush should live up to its name in more ways than one. At HM 157, 3110 N. Broadway, Lincoln Heights. $10, 9 p.m.-3 a.m., 21+. More info.
More from Lina Lecaro:
Goths, Galleries and Gentrification: The Year in L.A. Nightlife
Everyone From L7 to Nirvana (Yes, That Nirvana) Played '90s DIY Venue Jabberjaw
A Q&A With Gun N' Roses' Duff McKagan