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Paul Mann: Santa Barbara DJ Steve Aoki Throws All-Night Coachella After-Party

Master of ceremonies cues up marathon dance session at Dim Mak Studios in Hollywood

Steve Aoki turned up as the master of ceremonies for the eighth annual Dim Mak Studios Post Coachella Party in Hollywood on April 24.

Santa Barbara DJ Steve Aoki takes the controls during the Dim Mak Studios Post Coachella Party in Hollywood.
Santa Barbara DJ Steve Aoki takes the controls during the Dim Mak Studios Post Coachella Party in Hollywood. (L. Paul Mann / Noozhawk photo)

Named after Aoki’s record company, Dim Mak Studios is technically just part of a series of conjoined rooms, on the backside of the second floor of a large building down the street from the infamous corner of Hollywood and Vine streets. Formally the Cinespace nightclub, the new configuration includes Dim Mak as well as other club configurations like Room 86. Tuesdays at Dim Mak have now become legendary EDM house party nights, normally with a no-host vodka bar from 9 to 10 p.m., and cheap drinks by any Hollywood standard throughout the night.

This special Tuesday night gathering featured no fewer than six prominent DJs on the main stage and several more in the backroom. The backroom literally being the chill room with fewer bodies and the air conditioning cranked up to maximum capacity.

With alcohol pouring freely for those 21 and up, the buzz and excitement in the air quickly grew among the diverse crowd of EDM fans. With each hourlong DJ set on the main stage, the intensity and the crowd notched up to a new level. Each DJ would hand off the electronic controls, like a relay runner handing off a baton, without skipping a single beat during the more than six hours of nonstop dance music.

Early birds at the club gobbled down an hour of free Heineken beer and marveled at the simple but intricate lighting effects. Digital projectors produced lighting and video images on transparent ball- and cubed-shaped screens, synched to the DJ’s beat.

Opening DJ Bones passed off a solid rhythm to Los Angeles DJ Dan Oh, a frequent face at the regular Tuesday night Dim Mak party. He immediately brought up the volume and the dance pace, and dance fever began to break out across the club. By the time he was ready to pass the controls to musical prodigy DJ Michael Woods, the floor of the small club was packed with dance fans pressing tightly toward the stage.

Introduced by Aoki, the English DJ instantly brought a new dimension of intensity to the dance floor. As the bass speakers noticeably kicked up to a more explosive level, the master DJ launched into progressive tracks that wowed the crowd into an ever-intensifying dance craze. The DJ has been a music prodigy since childhood, able to play the keyboards by age 3, and guitar, drums and trumpet shortly after. Already a headline DJ in Europe, his remixes of Deadmau5 and opening tour for the illustrious Mouse headed master himself, have brought him into the forefront of EDM in the United States, as of late.

European EDM dance fans would be astonished to see a DJ of his stature playing in club that holds only several hundred people. The lineup at the Tuesday night party would have attracted thousands of people to a large venue on the continent.

The master spinner handed off the controls an hour later to LA Riots DJ Daniel LeDisko. By the time LeDisko, notched up the volume and the intensity of the music yet again, the small club was packed with patrons standing on the furniture in the back to get a better view of the stage. Some in the increasingly steamy crowd sought refuge in the back chill room, while hard-core dance fans continued to press closer to the front of the stage. A sea of seemingly rolling photographers pranced about the stage flashing images of nearly everything that moved, while the intense light show enthralled other rolling fans. For others, an infusion of alcohol had them primed for the main event.

Shortly after 1 a.m., the reigning monarch of the Dim Mak empire, Steve Aoki, took over the controls and the crowd went into a wild frenzy. The DJ lineup had been an unannounced secret, but nearly everyone there expected a showing by the master mixer.

Aoki actually founded Dim Mak Records way back in 1996, in his tiny college apartment on the UCSB campus. It was in the student enclave of Isla Vista that he first honed his skills as a DJ and record producer. Since then, Dim Mak Records has released volumes of music from some of the EDM world’s most well-known artists. These include The Bloody Beetroots, Datsik, MSTRKRFT, Felix Cartal and the Klaxons. But it’s his skills as a DJ and performer that have endeared Aoki to his fans in the realm of EDM.

As soon as he began his set, the master mixer had the crowd engaged in a dancing frenzy. Like a wizard waving his wand, Aoki began to mix and flail about like a conductor of a possessed orchestra. Part of the appeal of his live shows are his animated histrionics that lend themselves well to endearing the DJ directly to the crowd. If the crowd wasn’t already in enough of a frenzy, Aoki stoked the flames of fanatical dance fever with some new tracks of bass heavy beats, while prancing about the stage like a drunken sailor on shore leave.

At one point he sprayed the crowd with a full bottle of champagne. Then he methodically poured shots from a bottle of what appeared to be Saki into the mouths of eager fans at the front of a stage. Looking like a nest of baby birds, frenzied fans posed with mouths open patiently waiting to be fed by the mercurial maestro turned bartender. Then Aoki posed himself in the crowd for a group photo for his website, a technique that has become a integral part of his regular live shows.

As his set came to a close, Aoki took one last chance to wow the crowd with his antics by pouring a bucket of ice water onto the heads of those in the middle of the dance floor. The frenzied crowd appeared delighted, including those who were drenched in the icy water.

As Aoki turned over the final controls to DJ Bare, many in the crowd began to trickle out of the dark, winding staircase of the club, exhausted by the marathon dance session.

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributing writer. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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