Dance music is a universal language, and the past sixteen months of the pandemic has made it really hard to practice that language with festivals unable to keep to their annual schedules. If you are at all like me, you may be worried that if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Fortunately, events are finally coming back, and it is becoming easier and easier to get some dance practice in before the return of major music shows as we once knew them.
When searching for the best venues to let loose and set your footwork free, there are a few places in LA that you can start. Most of the dance music events take place around DTLA, largely due to the plethora of affordable, empty spaces – like warehouses – that promoters can rent out for the night when putting on events. Warehouse parties aren’t necessarily weekly; instead, they can be enticing one-off shows or have a longer-term cadence. So between these events, here are two venues in downtown that I love to hit up for a healthy dose of dance.
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If you are looking for something a little more high-key, with bigger drops and closer-to-festival cuts, look no further than Spring St. for LA’s top EDM club: Exchange. More club than bar, Exchange is known for its high-profile DJ events, bringing to its booths the popular festival DJs that you have truly started to miss. . . especially, after deciding that trying to make sourdough was not as fun as you thought it would be in the third week of the pandemic.
Though there are fewer fishnets and cat ears than a festival, the typically high cover charge encourages incredible amounts of debauchery by the bass-hungry patrons. Exchange is less about the image than it is about the energy, which is something that I have come to love about going there. When you enter the doors – probably after a wait in line where at least one person will offer you a pull from a Remy-Martin or tequila bottle (please be safe and smart during COVID, I am not encouraging anything) – you enter the realm of practically unjudged expression, where you can choose between the floors and decide where you want your mind to be freed.
Heading up my favorite dance music bar in DTLA is The Lash. Located on Winston St., The Lash gives you options. Walking in, you find a space reminiscent of a late-Soviet venue, with white subway tile covering the walls, Italian marble framing the bar, and a Cyrillic neon sign to top it off. This side of The Lash glows with underground flair in even the dimmest of lights. A modest dance floor sits in front of the DJ booth, and the intimate seating all around (including spots to sit behind and observe the DJ) is perfect for resting up, enjoying your drink, and chatting with your homies.
After a couple of incredible cocktails or well-priced beers, you might want to head towards – née stumble to – the bathroom. But as you head into the subway tile tunnel, you may notice more bass hits coming from a second bar hidden in the back. The second bar is speakeasy-esque, with more cocktail offerings and an entirely separate vibe. The dance space is open, and the second DJ will assuredly make your move. With this multi-DJ offering, you and your crew can choose exactly how you want to take your night.