2016 is finally over, and for us techno and house music fans in LA what better way to ring in 2017 than in a dark club, surrounded by music lovers, dancing to a lineup curated by the crew at Minimal Effort.
Once again this lineup represented a collection of the best house and techno artists available featuring MainStage acts like: Francesca Lombardo, Stephan Bodzin, Henry Saiz (live), and Recondite (live). Plus two stages curated by local parties: the upstairs stage was run by Space Yacht, a weekly party featuring the bouncy g-house sounds typical to Los Angeles, including Londonbridge and Ryan Collins; the basement room was a mystical underground featuring the talents of the Desert Hearts Crew headed by Mikey Lion and featuring other artists like Porkchop. As usual the music exceeded all expectations. Yet, once again Minimal Effort failed to find a venue which allowed the crowd to fully enjoy the party.
Upon arriving at The Globe Theater, located in the heart of the historic core in downtown Los Angeles, I was excited. The venue was more akin to the original Belasco, which so many of us had missed this Halloween when they had moved to the LA Center Studios. Unlike the outdoor venue procured for the Halloween event, The Globe offered a more club like atmosphere with multiples levels and rooms to get lost in and explore. Early in the evening it was perfect. People from various LA music groups were coming together, making new friends, and of course dancing to the mystical and transcendent music we all know and love.
Then around 22:00 things started to go downhill. The venue became extremely cramped. It was a single file sluggish line up or down the stairs, through any of the dance floors, and the lines to the both the men’s and woman’s restroom spiraled up almost two flights of stairs. Friends who had purchased tickets to the event were turned away at 23:30 because the venue was at capacity. Only those who had purchased VIP tickets were able to get in at that later hour and ring in the new year with the house and techno music they had paid to hear. Why did this happen? It was extremely unfortunate that due to poor organization the venue ended up overpacked and oversold.
A few months ago I would have shrugged this off and simply written about the amazing music and the fact that Stephan Bodzin’s set blew me away. But, due to recent events in the warehouse party community in California, the overcrowding seriously distracted me. Just a few months ago in Oakland, CA a fire in an overcrowded warehouse killed 36 party goers (nbc news). Obviously, Minimal Effort event had multiple clearly marked exits and well lit staircases. In every way the venue was up to code. It was certainly safer than the dangerous situation in Oakland, where there were few lights and planks of wood blocked staircases. However, the overcrowding did make me question what would happen in the event of an emergency. With that many people inside and the way we could barely slink past one another just to get out to the narrow outdoor corridor for a breath of fresh air: what would happen in the panic of a fire, earthquake, or other emergency?
When I go out I want to feel safe. I would rather an event sell less tickets than oversell in order to make a larger profit and cause discomfort to those who have paid money to attend. I am still a believer in Minimal Effort’s brand. I do not mean this as a judgement, just a bit of constructive criticism. These events have helped shift the Los Angeles music scene further forward towards a more all inclusive approach towards parties with their emphasis on underground sounds. However, the search for the perfect venue is not over. Unlike some of my friends on social media, the music will bring me back to these events again next year; but, I hope the curators find a space which combines the desire for a dark techno-centric space and the safety which allows party goers to move about comfortably throughout the evening. In the end I was glad to ring in 2017 surrounded by the people and the music I love, even if I was basically on top of them.
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Photo Credit: Chris Soltis