Last Night: Funkmosphere, Home to LA's Trainspotters and Pop-and-Lockers
Liz Ohanesian Dam-Funk with Jon Blunck of San Francisco club Sweater Funk
Have you ever found yourself in the middle of the nightclub, practically unable to dance because the need to find out what song is pumping through the loudspeakers renders you rhythmless? The urge hits like a gnawing pain deep in the gut, you have to know now or else the next selection will consume you and this flash of a melody will become some faded moment in a string of sounds of the night before. This is what Culver City party Funkmosphere is like every Monday. Last night being the birthday celebration for promoter and DJ Dam-Funk, the Funkmosphere residents and their special guests from San Francisco's Sweater Funk team upped the ante in the game of Let's Stump the Record Geeks. Even the savviest collectors in the club could probably admit to being stumped a few times.
Funkmosphere is a club that takes its music seriously. It's low-key and unpretentious, but, at the same time, you don't want to be the person who requests Chic's "Good Times" or anything else you might have heard at your aunt's wedding. Instead, you want to let Dam-Funk and crew do the digging, let them unearth vinyl (no Serato spinning here). Then you can scratch your head and wonder, What is this and why haven't I heard it before?
In the broadest terms, Funkmosphere is an '80s funk club, but, specifically, the focus here is on boogie funk, a far more narrow genre. Boogie albums typically were released in the earliest portion of the '80s, 1981 being a pretty good vintage. The production is slicker than funk and, unlike electro, the vocals are distinctively R&B. The subgenre is not well known by name, but if you heard the music, it will sound familiar. Dam-Funk, who is also a Stones Throw recording artist, and the Funkmosphere residents are the leaders of the boogie revival in LA. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the DJs at Sunday night party Sweater Funk are excavating the tunes.
Prime real estate at Funkmosphere is the rug-sized spot of dance floor right in front of the DJ booth. This area is always crammed with at least a handful of mostly male patrons-- some DJs, others not-- only slightly moving to the beat as their necks extend and bend down, their eyes carefully following the vinyl until label can be read.
Those who aren't trainspotting move to the western edge of the tiny dance floor inside venue Carbon, right between the entrance and the door of the ladies room. As midnight approaches, this region quickly fills with pop-and-lockers who will eventually convene in a circle. One by one, they take to the center of the ring, contorting themselves and allowing their limbs to fall before stiffening up again, all to a perfect beat. On the outskirts, dancers clap as they bust warm-up moves while waiting for their turn. The circle never lasts long, maybe ten or twenty minutes will pass before it spontaneously breaks apart and the dancers move to their own corners of the floor, but it's one highlight of the night that you'll be certain to see every Monday.
In a city where clubs unfortunately fall into the nothing-but-the-hits rut, Funkmosphere is a hot spot as rare as the albums its DJs play.