DJs are all the rage these days. These digital-era rock stars are spinning to the top of the charts in record numbers and booking worldwide tours in massive stadiums. Their fans are as rabid as the most fervent Bieberbot, and their wages can be hundreds of thousands of dollars per night. Hollywood -- hype's most reliable bellwether -- has been listening and eight weeks ago spawned an exclusive, boutique club that worships at the DJ's altar.
It's called Agency, and one night a week -- Tuesdays -- it hosts an invitation-only house music night DJed by an unannounced DJ, often with a very big name. On Saturday nights it allows for other types of electronic music, with a continued emphasis on house. Swedish House Mafia (which sold out Madison Square Garden in nine minutes late last year) played the club's opening party. Other DJs who have spun from its thumping pulpit include Max Vangeli, AN21, Manufactured Superstars, Nervo, LA Riots, R3hab, Morten Breum, DJ Vice and Sander Kleinenberg.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, January 31, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 63 words Type of Material: Correction
Agency nightclub: A Jan. 27 Calendar article about the nightclub Agency said that Swedish House Mafia played the club's opening party. It was actually two members of SHM, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso, who played the party. The article also did not include the street artist Louis Carreon in the list of the club's owners. Carreon is one of four owners of Agency.
This impressive roster of names would come as no surprise if Agency were a large, Vegas-style nightclub. But it's not. It's a 4,000-square-foot upstairs lounge with a maximum capacity of 300 guests. Still, it boasts all the bells and whistles of a club 10 times its size. A crystal-clear EAW sound system; a large LED wall behind the DJ booth; a boisterous confetti machine and an explosive light show can stir up a rowdy crowd.
DJs used to playing giant rooms to a blur of sweaty faces in the distance welcome the chance to perform in the comfort of such an intimate environment, says Alan Nathan, who runs Choice Hospitality Group and founded Agency alongside Vegas nightlife mogul (and former Paris Hilton beau) Cy Waits and lifestyle marketing heavy-hitter Jordan Buky of All Points Worldwide.
"It's a very small, comfortable room fueled by the mystique of who might play there on any given night," Nathan says. "And we're putting the people in the room that these people really want to play in front of."
That means super fans and personal friends and colleagues of the well-connected owners, including agents from William Morris Endeavor and AM Only, which recently partnered with Paradigm Talent Agency, as well as managers of top-name acts that come to support their clients or meet new ones.
"The other day when I was hanging out there, Deadmau5 was hanging out too, and so was Afrojack," says Daniel Linton of LA Riots, who played Agency about three weeks ago. "I like going there, and I don't frequent a lot of L.A. clubs."
In this way, Agency functions like the DJ version of another popular invitation-only club down the street in Hollywood: Jason Scoppa's Sayers Club, which caters to the rock 'n' roll crowd. And like Sayers, where Prince might hop on stage randomly after Jeremy Piven sits in on drums, at Agency, Linton might hop on stage before Manufactured Superstars or DJ Vice to play a quick track that he had been working on in his studio that day.
"They're pretty laid back about that kind of thing," says Linton, who did exactly that two weeks ago.
Which is why Nathan calls the club a "home away from home" for its patrons.
Maybe so, if your home happens to have a stripper pole, a leopard-print carpet and a bevy of women dressed in garter belts and bustiers serving you really expensive bottles of booze. Those involved say the club is aiming for a sexy, modern opium-den-style vibe.
Despite its elaborate chandeliers, copper ceilings and plush turquoise booths, something about Agency is reminiscent of the pseudo back-room club in the film "True Romance." The one where Christian Slater finds Gary Oldman's character, Drexl, a mad dog of a drug dealer-pimp, eating bad Chinese food and watching an old Richard Pryor movie.
Which isn't necessarily all bad, especially in Hollywood, where discomfiting contrast is king of the night. Plus at Agency, even servers wearing next to nothing can't tear the crowd's eyes away from the DJ booth, which can be seen from more than 90% of the club. Only two booths in a small side room lack that visibility. Intimacy like this is the real draw for DJs.
"I prefer playing a small room," says Linton, who will appear at Coachella this year. "When you're playing a small room there's a lot more freedom. You can start small and ramp it up slowly. At large festivals you just gotta bang it out and play really big the whole time."
Where: 6021 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.
When: Open (varies) till 4 a.m., Tuesdays and Saturdays
Cost: No cover, invitation only
Contact: (323) 446-7000; www.agency6021.com.