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.
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.