KCRW’s RadioActive Dance Party, Park Plaza Hotel, April 11, 2009

Eric J Lawrence, KCRW RadioActive
PHOTO: Eric J Lawrence Pumas the Crowd, World Folktronic Jazz Lounge, KCRW RadioActive @ Park Plaza.
Photo by Salvador Farfan.

11 April 2009
KCRW Presents RadioActive: A Spring Dance Party at the Legendary Park Plaza Hotel

(The) Park Plaza was built in 1925 by the Elks to be used as lodge number 99. The building, done in the Neo-Gothic style, was created by renowned art deco architect Claud Beelman… Eventually, the Elks sold the building, and the building ended up being transformed into a luxury hotel, set perfectly then on the shores of what was a very glamorous MacArthur Park. (source)

Excitement in the elevator. We’ve parked on the sixth floor in a garage off Carondolet. The time is 925pm. Elevator fills. “Everybody ready for Schnabel?” I try valiently to work the crowd into something other than a sort of anticipatory silence. “It’s all about the T. See you guys there. I’ll be there!” A few giggles and clever remarks are thrown about and suddenly we are inside the gates, here, now, for RadioActive, the dance party being thrown by KCRW this evening featuring damn near every DJ on the Santa Monica station’s roster. The event is long sold out. And hey – even Kogi’s here! (OG; not Roja.)

We stroll into what has been dubbed the World Folktronic Jazz Lounge this evening, an outdoor patio with comfy couches, space heaters and ample bartenders. Anne Litt is doing her thing, head bopping, dancing, getting into the set. Bundle of energy, gotta love it. We give her a few songs’ time. “Rollins will be out here later. Let’s go look around,” I say. We then creep thru a very tall, skinny door into what has been dubbed the Neo-Soul Streetbeat Sound System this evening (in actuality the bronze ballroom). Aaron Byrd is finishing up. We keep moving, through the lobby, up the ridiculously large staircase, through the massive, ornate wrought-iron gate and into the upstairs rooms. In the Grand Voodoo Salon this evening (the hotel’s terrace ballroom, and the largest room the party has to offer in terms of ceiling space, at least), Gary Calamar (or is it Dan Wilcox? so dark in here!) is finishing a slowly meandering remix of “Multiply” by Jamie Lidell as I purchase cocktail #1. “Too slow,” we agree. Off to the Dub House Disco Ballroom (actually the grand ballroom), probably the second largest room in the house and definitely the one with the palpable energy. Liza Richardson is already working the crowd into some sort of frenzy. Strangers are gazing at the roses on my shirt, tracing the embroidery with their fingers as I attempt to order a drink. What’s going on here? Ah! Clubbing, drugs and drinking in an ornate hotel! I get it! You’re never too old to rave, just ask the 45-year-old-guy with no shirt, a tie, shades and glowsticks. We’ll be back in this room in a bit; right now, time to check on Rollins. Sure ’nuff, there he is down beneath us, we see him from the windows above. Let’s motor. He’s finishing “Sheila is a Punk Rocker” as we hit the patio downstairs and soon, he’s got Marvin Gaye on tap. Hank, I feel you, but you’re being drowned out by a considerably louder soundsystem with pulsing techno beats somewhere inside the belly of this hotel. We’re off again. Jesus – time to check on Schnabel! We grab a few Freejis (Fiji water is free for the night; thanks, Fiji) and make our way back up to the Grand Voodoo Whatever-or-other. Tom, bless him, is frought with technical difficulties as we enter the room. “He’s just going to play a Fado and bum everybody out,” I’m told. Giggles erupt and though we know Tom wouldn’t do this to us, impatient with the brief tech difficulties, we leave and go back ’round the other side of the stairs, up to Liza’s party in the grand ballroom, already near capacity. Jason Bentley is on tap after Liza, with Raul closing out the night, might’ve figured this room would be seeing the most action (and freaky costumes). Within a half-hour’s time the line to get into this room alone is winding clear down the stairs below and security is clearing the hallway and roping off the ballroom. As such, there will be no Kogi, there will be no Garth, there will be no Anthony Valadez, there will be no Eric J Lawrence, no Mario Kotto, no Jason Kramer, no James Yuill, no Jeremy Sole, no Michael Barnes. There will be no KXLU fundRAZOR party-hopping tonight, either, so get that out of your head. There will simply be the most popular room in this amazing hotel and mad, frantic dancing ’til 2am. Smashing. (There will further be no Chris Douridas and no Nic Harcourt, but this is because both former music directors are conspicuously absent from the billing this eve. Nobody mentions why, but as the event feels something of a watershed “changing of the guard” moment for the station on several levels, nobody in this house seems to mind one bit.)

1am, Grand Ballroom. Jason finishes up, hands the microphone to Raul, then takes it back. “Hold off Raul, one song left. Give me three minutes!” Three more minutes: Something every DJ in the house wanted that night, no doubt. Congratulations to KCRW for pulling off a stellar party; here’s hoping the next one isn’t too far down the road.

Henry Rollins, KCRW RadioActive, Park Plaza Hotel

Garth Trinidad, KCRW RadioActive, Park Plaza Hotel

RadioActive Photo credits:

  1. Eric J Lawrence (photo by Salvador Farfan)
  2. Henry Rollins (photo by Salvador Farfan)
  3. Garth Trinidad (photo by Gary Leonard)
  4. Dub House Disco Ballroom replete w/Shirtless Man (photo by Gary Leonard)
  5. Bentley Raises Hands to Heaven! (photo by Salvador Farfan)
  6. Jason and Raul: The Dream Team (photo by Gary Leonard)
  7. KCRW group photo on the stairs! (photo by Salvador Farfan)

All photos © 2009 by their respective authors.

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