“I'll give you a hundred dollars if you can find someone who can dance better than me!”
It's 15 minutes before closing time for the Do-Over's 10th anniversary celebration on Sunday, but the breakdancer who calls himself Skubi is still going strong. He's hanging out in the side room at Lure nightclub in Hollywood. All around him is a tableau of West Coast bacchanal — revelers lounging on white sectionals, sloshing around drinks and dancing to hip-hop beneath the moody blue glow of an arrangement of lights shaped like giant, space-age globes.
I’m by the bar as this is all going down, and Skubi has just caught sight of me. Before I even have a chance to get a glass of water, he’s already introduced himself and laid out his bona fides: He’s a DJ, a producer, a yoga instructor, and a veteran dancer and choreographer who’s allegedly competed across the land and has yet to find a worthy dance-off opponent. “I've been waiting!” he says, and without further ado he drops onto the floor and launches into a series of spins, handstands and robot moves in a fabulous drunken b-boy routine.
Founded in L.A. by Jamie Strong, Christopher Haycock and Aloe Blacc, the Do-Over was first conceived as an alternative to overblown pool parties. The idea was to create a backyard-BBQ vibe with good music and a minimum of hype, which meant that the organizers wouldn't announce the DJs in advance; instead, you'd only know who was playing seconds before they'd go on. Over the years, these parties have become a Sunday afternoon institution in L.A., and the format has been such a success that the Do-Over went international in 2011, with parties going down in cities as far-flung as Tokyo, Berlin and Auckland.
“We didn’t want to be the old guys in the club… but we are the old guys, keeping it progressive, you know?” Strong said on Sunday. He was sipping from a flute of champagne while Beat Junkies founder J. Rocc summoned booming bass from a couple turntables a mere 10 feet away. The party marked the beginning of the Do-Over's 2015 season, and it's only the beginning in what's looking to be a busy year for the organizers. In August, Strong says, they're working out plans to host parties in 10 cities on the same day.
Strong didn't have much time to talk Sunday. The club was packed. Partygoers were guzzling sangria straight from big carafes. The sprawling outdoor area had the feel of a tropical getaway, with shaded awnings on the sides and palm trees sprouting up. Everybody was looking immaculate yet comfortable. (Side note: People watching was superb. The variety of hats alone was a sight to behold.) 'Twas time, instead, to party!
The DJ lineup included locals like Salva and Mike B, as well as Sángo from L.A. label Soulection. Salva murdered his CDJ turntables with a rap-heavy set, while J. Rocc delivered R&B jams, Latin beats, hip-hop both vintage and current, and underground gems like Loose Joints’ house classic “Is It All Over My Face?” Throughout the day the West Coast was also well-represented, with songs by the likes of Eazy-E and Kendrick Lamar. When Rocc spun Dr. Dre's “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang,” a young Asian guy and a young African-American guy, both in flat caps, standing next to each other near the stage, brightened up with enormous smiles as they recited Snoop Dogg’s opening verse in unison from memory.
This being a day party, things closed out relatively early at 10 p.m. But some were holding strong right till the end, as Mike B brought it all home with repeated rewinds of Skepta’s recent grime slammer “Shutdown.” Before that, though, our friend Skubi was in the other room, waxing philosophic about the power of dance. “When you stop dancing, you lose your humanity,” he told me, before taking off into a bout of delirious popping ’n’ locking.
The Do-Over seems to inspire this in people. The positive energy was all over the place on Sunday. Sometimes partying is a beautiful thing.
Now here's a video I took of Skubi dancing.