Contrary to the downtown loft-spot image of hip-hop clubs, the Blowfish nightclub on Santa Monica Pier brings street sounds about as close to the sand and sea as club-goers can get. Only Baja's Calafia hotel is closer. There the dance floor is on the beach.
Promoters of Blowfish, a club based on multicultural crowds and music, have found an ideal spot to bring the sounds of the street to the coast (at least for now, as theme clubs of this sort are prone to roam).
The new and unlikely venue for the East Coast sounds of hip-hop and '70s funk is the Boathouse restaurant where on Friday nights ethnically eclectic young Los Angeles dances as sea air mixes with the club's smoke.
But Blowfish is more than a locale, as evidenced by the loyal few hundred who followed the club from its old spot, Kelbo's restaurant in West Los Angeles. What patrons come for isn't any particular deejay or live group, but a feeling that something fresh is happening.
"Our attitude is no attitude," says Blowfish promoter Adam Wolfe, a 29-year-old film editor by day for the television series "Northern Exposure."
"Clubs should just be a good time," Wolfe says.
A mix of dance music and jazz known as acid jazz is the inspiration for the club's name and its flyer is illustrated with a puff-cheeked horn player. But where Los Angeles' original acid jazz club, Brass, features live instruments played over deejay-spun music, Blowfish is more prone to vinyl funk. On a recent Friday, local deejays Rob Harris and Roberto spin a mix of the likes of Sugar Hill Gang and Parliament as the crowd reacts by shooting hips dangerously about.
Later in the night, deejays slow things down with acid jazz and B-side tunes from the '70s known as "rare groove."
"It's not so danceable, but more to drink and socialize to," says Roberto, wearing a Chicago White Sox cap. "It's more in the blues, jazz- vibe style."
Outside the portholes and walkways of the Boathouse's basement dance floor is a patio where hipsters sporting dreadlocks, parkas or baseball caps hang out. Many enjoy the 10-year time warp at Blowfish. It is a brief trip to the late '70s and early '80s without the disco fashions. "It's the music," says patron Nicole Goodman, 28. "It's going back."
Name: Blowfish, currently held at the Boathouse, 301 Santa Monica Pier. This club is prone to roam, so calling (213) 969-2515 is the best way to confirm its locale du jour.
Cover: $6. Must be 21.
Door Policy: There is rarely a line as a doorman checks patrons' IDs and then whisks them inside.
Drinks: Beer starts at $2.75, mixed drinks at $3.25. Bartender Tommy Skebba's specialty is Long Island iced tea. "I've only had one person bring one back," he says. "He said it was too strong."