This weekend, the annual Gay Pride festival was celebrated in the heart of West Hollywood, shutting down San Monica and San Vicente for 48 hours of un-closetted (and often unclothed) good times. But while rainbow flags and strutting in the streets might be a very visible display of gay identity in 2010, across town in Silver Lake Junction, a more melodic celebration was taking place.
Since 2007, polysexual nightlife event A Club Called Rhonda has been building a new gay underground upon the building blocks of classic disco and house. To the sophisticates, the music at Rhonda is a million miles from the pulsing trance that blares out of the clubs in WeHo (itself, ironically, a sound similar to the beat-beating style of Jersey Shore's high-functioning heterosexual DJ Pauly D). On Saturday, following on the tail of their highly successful Rendevous event a few weeks back, Rhonda returned to her home at "Flamenco Dinner Theater" club El Cid, and the party could not have been hotter.
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The night, cheekily titled A Club Called Juanda, was named after headline DJ Juan Maclean. His set built heavily on his his own indie dance hits for New York's DFA label--"Happy House," "Feels So Good" and "Hey Hey Hey"--as well as other faves from the label. But the real magic took place when the bald and bearded ginger-haired dug deeper into his crate of real vinyl, pulling out classic cuts by house legends Ron Trent and Chez Damier, giving the super-sweaty crowd of low-budget trannies and hipster trainwrecks a real workout.
The party was purportedly to celebrate the debut of Maclean's first mix CD, part of the 15-years-running DJ KiCKS series from !K7, which has seen releases from revered decksmen as diverse as techno pioneer Carl Craig, downtempo deities Kruder & Dorfmeister, electro icon Tiga and, most recently, crossover kings Hot Chip and Chromeo--the common thread in all of these acts being flawless underground credentials combined with elevated underground acceptance. Maclean deserves a space on that revered list, and one look up at the DJ booth--packed with local DJ heroes Dirty Dave, Louisahhhh!!!, Acid Girls, Posso, Filip Tubotito and Daisy O'Dell--illustrated the "DJs' DJ" title accorded to Maclean. And while a stage full of heterosexual music heads geeking out over gay-inspired house tunes might not seem as legitimate as the queer as folk happenings at Pride, the pride this mixed crowd takes in house music's gay club history is a proposition no one can hate.