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NIGHT LIFE

The Do-Over at Crane's Hollywood Tavern

Unpredictable DJs, cool sangria and hot burgers power the Sunday afternoon barbecue.

July 17, 2009|Scott Sterling

Summertime is here and the Do-Over, the weekly backyard barbecue that takes over Crane's Hollywood Tavern on Sundays, is in full swing. The club is more popular than ever and is governed by a few fundamental rules:

One: If you're not female, bring at least one with you. On a recent Sunday afternoon around 3 p.m., a gaggle of forlorn guys stewed in a growing line snaking down El Centro -- while women and the men accompanying them breezed right into the back patio, where DJs spin to the outdoor bar area. Inside, burgers are grilled and served to hungry guests.

Two: If you dare to break out your summer whites, prepare to wear at least one purple stain somewhere on your person before the day is over, courtesy of the Do-Over's signature drink, sangria, which flows freely in cups and carafes all over the bar.

"I have to give credit to Crane's owner, Darren Crane, for coming up with the sangria," chuckles Jamie Strong, who along with friends Chris Haycock and Aloe Blacc have hosted the raucous, music-powered party for five years running. "That was his creation, and it's become our summertime favorite around here."

"The Do-Over has become larger and far more popular than any of us ever expected," says Haycock. "It's gotten to a point where if we stopped doing it, we'd have lots of enemies. It's totally exhausting, but worth it."

Strong points to a particular moment a couple of years in when he realized just how popular the party had become.

"It was the opening party of the second year, I think," he recalls.

"It was pouring rain, but people stayed and were dancing in the rain. That's when Chris, Aloe and I looked at each other like, 'Wow.' "

While the heady party vibe is what's been attracting the largest crowds the party has ever seen this summer, most regulars (of which there are many) insist it's the wildly eclectic mix of music that sets the Do-Over apart from other Sunday afternoon events that have been springing up.

Strong works for highly regarded L.A. hip-hop record label Stones Throw; Blacc is a recording artist for the label. Past guest DJs have included such underground heroes as 8th Wonder, Diplo and Theo Parrish.

"Every DJ is a pro, and you don't have to worry about hearing the same thing you hear on the radio 24-7," Blacc says from Japan, where he's currently recording and playing shows. "We don't even announce what DJs will be there; it's a complete mystery to the partygoers. They just know it's going to be off the hook. Like when DJ A.M. played one of the most memorable hip-hop sets I have seen in years. He showed his true L.A. roots."

"We even try to keep the identities of the guest DJ secret from the other DJs," Strong adds. "That way no one has any idea what the next DJ is going to play, so we end up with a really great mix."

The popularity of the Do-Over has grown to the point that many much-larger venues around town have approached the trio about moving the party, but Strong insists that Crane's is an integral part of their success.

"If we ever moved it, we'd lose a lot," he insists. "We'd rather maintain the integrity of what we've made. We have such a great, diverse crowd."

That growth also includes Do-Over records, a series of 10-inch vinyl pressings limited to 1,000 copies each that will feature exclusive tracks from two artists who have played records at the party.

The first edition is scheduled to be released in September and boasts Detroit expat DJ House Shoes and L.A. favorite Flying Lotus, who titled his tune "Sangria Spin Cycle."

The Do-Over's organizers still have big aspirations for the club. There has been talk of taking the party to other cities, and there are always particular DJs they dream of hosting. Strong lists people like Moodymann and Gilles Peterson. Haycock mentions day-party and disco pioneer David Mancuso. But for Blacc, he wants to push the envelope even further.

"I would really like to see Danger Mouse rock with us one Sunday," he says. "I would also like to see some nontraditional DJs play. It would be interesting to see what someone like Thom Yorke or Zack De La Rocha would throw down."

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scott.sterling@latimes.com

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The Do-Over

Where: Crane's Hollywood Tavern, 1611 N. El Centro Ave., Los Angeles

When: 2-10 p.m. Sundays

Price: Free (RSVP recommended)

Contact: (323) 467-6600; www.blog.thedoover.net

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