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Sprawl of Sound recently profiled Dirty Money, which vibrates the Avalon Bar every Wednesday. So it seems logical now to spotlight its kindred spirit across 19th Street, Busywork, which keeps Detroit Bar sweaty that same hump night.
Santa Ana resident Dan Sena's new weekly event Busywork derives its name from his experience toiling at temp jobs. The moniker doesn't scream, "PARTY!" in boldfaced caps, but don't be misled by the seemingly unpromising nomenclature: Busywork strives mightily to let the good times roll (and rock).
Launched in August, Busywork is gaining new adherents each passing week. Similar to Dim Mak's Tuesday-night party at LA's Cinespace, Sena's event places dance-music DJs and rock bands on the same bill and lets the hips sway where they may.
Sena's background is steeped in rock: Since 1992, he has sung and played guitar and bass in numerous bands, including Entity, Stickfigure Carousel and his current group, Bullet Train to Vegas. "I picked up a guitar around the age of 15," Sena recalls, when asked about his musical history. "At the time, I was a skate rat, and all the skateboarding videos at the time had great punk and indie-rock soundtracks. They exposed me to pretty much all of the SST catalog. Dinosaur Jr, Minutemen and Black Flag were huge influences on my guitar playing, as well as metal bands such as Metallica and Slayer. I've played in bands ever since that time."
With Busywork, Sena makes a determined effort to unite the rock- and electronic-music tribes, even while admitting the idea isn't new.
"It's been happening for years up in LA. The movement itself can be equated to the punk-rock scene of the late '70s being associated with the dub scene. The punks would go to the punk show to freak out and later head over to the dub club to dance and hang out. It's almost the same thing with indie rock and electro right now. I think the point I'm trying to drive home is diversity. Orange County really doesn't have much of that. Places like LA, Chicago and NYC totally get it. It's even more relevant in Europe. Everyone out there has a wide palate of musical taste. I want to reflect that in my night and be really inclusive of everyone who has a sincere interest in music and having fun, of course. The pretense can be left at the door."
The band that helped lure rock & roller Sena into the dance music world was Primal Scream, and the transition, which transpired a few years ago, was smooth. "I think the energy between an intense rock or metal song is similar to a hard electro-dance track," he says. "I never really paid any attention to electronic music until I heard [Primal Scream's] Exterminator. That album was just fucking unbelievable. Just so much energy and passion. And then to follow it up with Evil Heat was just mind-blowing. Those two albums really made me understand the whole thing."
The selectors Sena (a fine DJ himself) enlists for Busywork, including regulars GMO (Guillermo Arce) and Damager (Bryan Nguyen, who also spins at the Rockognized monthly in LA), are typically friends who are on the same wavelength—meaning no prima donnas.
"I want to include DJs who bring a great vibe to the night," Sena says. "There's a lot of talent out there, but plenty of attitudes. I think there are a number of DJs right now who are acting like rock stars and looking for money right out of the gate. I don't do any guarantees, but I do take care of everyone. I haven't made a cent off this night, but I really believe in it and have a great group of friends that really support what I'm doing. It's just my way of doing what I can to help them out."
Sena credits Dim Mak Records boss and notorious club maven Steve Aoki for motivating him to deejay. Sena's playlists commonly embrace a mélange of heavy and beat-y rock, hip-hop, and new electronic club-heaters. He's the sort of idiosyncratic DJ who segues Justice into Feist and follows Metallica with M.I.A. Sena's also been known to strap on his guitar behind the decks and shred along to a Slayer track.
Although he's obviously stoked about Busywork, Sena sees a dearth of quality showcases in Orange County, especially compared to the LA scene. "Outside of nights like Busywork, Dirty Money, Discoteca and Mute, there really isn't much," he laments. "But the electro scene out here is starting to catch on. For me, it's a good time to be a part of that in its infancy."
As for the near future, Sena plans to "nurture Busywork and help everyone involved with rejuvenating the real Orange County. It's really fun and gratifying to watch my night grow. It's only a matter of time before it truly blossoms."
DAN SENA PERFORMS AT DETROIT BAR, 843 W. 19TH ST., COSTA MESA, (949) 642-0600; WWW.DETROITBAR.COM. EVERY WED. CALL FOR TIME AND COVER; AND WITH SPARROW LOVE CREW, THEM JEANS, GMO, MASHED POTATOS AND MORE AT THE PAYBACK DANCE PARTY AT DETROIT BAR. SAT., 9 P.M. $10. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT WWW.MYSPACE.COM/DANSENA.