Monday Social Makes a Move: A Conversation with Mick Cole
Monday Social is Los Angeles' longest-running, electronic dance music night. It started in 1996 as an off-night ode to a cast-off scene, a place where true fans of digitally flavored "progressive" house music could get their fix away from the celebrity crowds. It turned into an affair of its own, however, and soon the Social, particularly at its original location, the late Louis XIV restaurant, was a parlor-like mix of debutants, Euro-trash, trainspotters and local DJs.
As it hopped around Hollywood, first to the defunct Las Palmas restaurant, then to Nacional, the Social became an institution, known for booking top DJs from around the world. The rap on the Social was that, if you missed a big spinner at one of the big-room nights Saturday, you might be able to catch him in a much more intimate environment on Monday. Festival headliner John Digweed even played the Social.
Two weeks ago the night's founders, Mick Cole and Freddy Be, were scrambling for a new venue. They were told to hit the road on a Friday, and by the next Monday they had a new home around the corner at Playhouse.
Interestingly, Playhouse, an ornate, two-story celebrity-focused venue that just opened this summer, shares some partners with Nacional. Cole says Nacional was shut down and locked up by the folks who own the property (not the folks who leased it to use as a club), and that plans for a new venue called 77 there seem to be on hold. In the meantime, he's enjoying Playhouse's greater capacity and better sound system. Englishman Cole, 43, is a music industry veteran and DJ in his own right who ran the British label Deconstruction's American operations in the mid-1990s. We recently caught up with him to talk about the move.
LA Weekly: What happened?
Mick Cole: It came down with the ownership of the venue, something having to do with renewing the lease, which didn't happen. The venue was actually shut down without anyone able to do anything. That happened on a Friday and we were in the Playhouse the next Monday.
Weren't there plans to make Nacional into a new club?
I would imagine at this point it's a no-go. Nacional had planned to close soon for remodeling, and we had already been talking to Playhouse anyway. There's nobody at Nacional, no management holding a lease. The venue was shut down by the owner of the actual property.
Aren't some of the people involved with Nacional also behind Playhouse?
Some people involved at Playhouse who are at Nacional came in as an investment team about four months ago. We had that connection at Playhouse through them. That was a help.
Playhouse is a bigger venue.
Capacity is about 800. Nacional is about 380. We want to expand some of the types of DJs we can put in there. We can start bringing in another level of DJ. We've been looking to bring in other promoters to help us on a monthly basis, including Liquified, Traffic and the people who do the Wet parties.
It seemed like it used to be that Hollywood clubs would open, cater to the celebrity scene, and then when that died off, they'd turn to people like you who could bring in a good, steady clientele and provide quality music. Now you're getting in on the ground floor of a new Hollywood club. What gives?
It's definitely changing. The people who own and run the Playhouse are quite familiar with the club scene. They're coming from New York. They're really into the music as well. They have their weekend nights that cater to the Hollywood crowd as well, but they like the idea of having good music. They're definitely working with us. I do feel that's different this time around as well.
Playhouse has an honest-to-goodness sound system - a British Funktion One.
That's in there. We had to bring in our sound system to Nacional every week. That was our biggest thing. They have an amazing sound system and they have an amazing lighting rig. That was just really appealing to us. Local guys love it. They're peeing in their pants. Some of them have never been able to play on a Funktion One sound system before.
Will your cover charges - usually around $10 - change?
We don't intend to do anything different than we have in the past. We have our members and we cater to dance music industry people. The idea is not to pass it on to the door; it's to pay what we need to pay for out of the bar.
The read on Monday Social for so long was that you were able to nab big-name DJs that came through town to play the super-clubs on Saturday nights. Is that still the case?
Not so much in recent years. The DJ agents and Saturday night promoters really haven't let us do that anymore. We get into other DJs who use the Monday Social as their only gig. We recently had Cedric Gervais, for example. They come through and have their CD projects they want to promote. Our club is a good place to do that if they can't find a gig on the weekend in L.A.
But this venue, with the size and sound system, will help you get some of those Saturday night heroes?
We're starting to shop around a little more now that we've got something else to fill it with. I want to get some people down to check out the next level.