Much the same as any corporation is technically acknowledged as a living entity, so goes the grandiose existence of Los Angeles sweat-fest A Club Called Rhonda. Having lived an outrageously debauched and considerably long life (it started in a Latino disco in 2008), Rhonda features cult priests of nightlife and the top dogs of glam-baked weirdo DJ culture, and exists wherever it’s contained—if contained is what you call capacity-plus style carnivals for anything the subconscious can express through glitter. Usually that’s in some tawdry Los Angeles outpost or another, though events spill off the page onto festivals and out-of-town parties, pool bashes, podcasts, a retrospective at a gallery called Archival Jello, and a record label in the works called Rhonda International. The first release slated comes from Cromie, a DJ born from the Rhonda inferno, and to warm it up we’ve got an exclusive mix from him, premiereing here right now. Let’s talk to co-conspirators Gregory Alexander and Loren Granic (aka Goddollars) to find out what this is all about.
First up, let’s run through some memorable Rhonda moments.
Gregory Alexander: The first couple nights we ever threw Rhonda back at Guatelinda were very weird and very cool. It was great music with just a few friends and weirdoes in a dark, “anything goes”-type club. By the end of the night everybody was topless, girls and boys, and either dancing or making out on the mirrored walls, or maybe getting a hand job in a dark corner next to rope lit Greco-Roman statues.
Yep, I’d say that’s a good start. What else?
The first night we fully took over Los Globos with A Club Called Rhonda, the guest DJ was Dimitri from Paris and it was so packed and sweaty and steamy and drunk that people reported back that it seemed like a gay bathhouse in the main room. Everybody I know and tons I don’t know danced until their feet hurt, and then danced some more; that was an amazing vibe; Juan Maclean ordered a pizza delivery to the DJ booth and ate it while spinning in front of a giant portrait of himself hung behind him that had lit-up red eyes; When Nicky Siano (famed DJ from Paradise Garage, Gallery, and Studio 54) DJed his last-ever West Coast set soaked in sweat; Having Azari & III performing live at our first Coachella adjacent party in Palm Springs; Cedric and Fritz were dancing and singing up and down the stairs at the Ace Hotel with the mountains and palm trees behind them and a sea of wet kids beneath them; When we had our Donna Summer tribute moment at Rhondavous two days after her death, with a confetti drop around the disco ball and I was holding a big, blown-up poster of Donna at the front of the stage for everybody to see. Remembering that moment still gives me chills. A friend of ours recorded it on his phone.
Overall, I’d say some of the most memorable moments though are the ones that we hardly remember. There’s this “magic hour,” as I like to call it, that anybody who works for us or stays till the bitter end can attest to, where it seems like you are in on a special secret or a lost world or an unknown high, and it usually happens once they’ve stopped serving drinks at the bar and the bulk of the crowd leaves for the night. All that’s left is a DJ who’s playing for the joy of it and the die-hard fans who are living for it on a dance floor with enough room for them to move it to their hearts’ content.
What was it like to bring something so atmospheric and full of life, very “in the moment,” into a more static setting, like with your gallery show at POP TART last February?
Loren Granic: The gallery show was an attempt to shed light on the more graphic side of Rhonda, which we develop with our art director Trevor of Destro Studios and that manifests itself in our flyers, posters, and decor. Trev works with us to create some really amazing work, and the collaborative process that goes into conceptualizing this stuff isn’t always appreciated when viewed as a flyer or in a dark club competing with the sounds and lights. So we built a gallery show around it to make the art direction the star, and we were pretty stoked about it.
And now you’re unleashing a record label too! There are so many labels out there I almost want to say it doesn’t make sense to start another one, like for the world. But your whole thing is pretty far out and there’s nothing else like it, and it’d be nice to package the vibe and make it available whenever. What’re your plans for the label?
It’s a limb extension of Rhonda allowing her to showcase and promote people that she loves making music that they love. We’re focusing mainly on showcasing previously unknown talent that’s sprung up in Rhonda’s orbit and we’re very excited to be doing so.
What’s this mix?
It’s a coming out of sorts for Cromie, one of the freshman class of Rhonda International artists who we met through the party. People of like creative minds and equal propensity towards taking risks gravitate to one another at Rhonda, and he came to us in this manner with an insane catalog of tunes. This mix showcases Cromie’s musical and conceptual sensibilities while showcasing his deep crates and few of his upcoming tracks.