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For years, the second Friday of the month in Long Beach provided a treasured portal into a blistering parallel universe permanently suspended somewhere around 1967. A bouncer took your $5 and welcomed you into a divey jungle full of sharp-dressed funkophiles—stiff drinks meshed with loose grooves, and crowds pretended vinyl was the only sonic medium in existence. It was sweaty, it was loud, and it was glorious.
The Good Foot packed Que Sera's hardwood dance floor for 13 years solid until it gave up the second-Friday slot in September 2011. But now, after a two-year hiatus, it's time once again to get up on the get-down. Armed with stacks of Stax, Atlantic, Chess, Motown and more, DJs Dennis Owens and Rodi Delgadillo are bringing back their much-loved soul and funk club on its 15-year anniversary.
The Good Foot evolved with its founding fathers, taking on a life of its own during its reign. Delgadillo moved to Japan in 2004, leaving Owens to keep the club going. Delgadillo flew in to help man the turntables from time to time, and guest DJs such as Scott Weaver (of 00 Soul), Bobby Soul (of Boogaloo Assassins and co-owner of Hopscotch), Mike Vague (revered vinyl junkie) and various familiar faces from local record store Fingerprints did their part to pack the place.
Not long after the last Good Foot at Que Sera, Delgadillo returned stateside full-time, and he immediately put the pressure on Owens to bring back the funk. But Owens wasn't quite ready, particularly since he hadn't completely quit the club, putting on the annual Good Foot Christmases at Alex's Bar, plus a couple one-offs at the same club and a night at the Crosby for the restaurant's four-year anniversary. Owens knew to not try to fake the funk by taking on too much and instead wanted to recharge his batteries.
But Good Foot devotees never gave up hope that Owens and Delgadillo would reunite to rock steady. It came down to two factors for Owens: the inviting warmth of vintage vinyl and those who clamor for it. "The people who came to the club are half the reason for its success," Owens says. "They set the vibe."
The dedication of Good Foot enthusiasts swayed him. "There have been things about the club I didn't realize until it was done," Owen says. "I didn't understand the extent that people cared. That was very enlightening and very humbling."
Sean Sloan, a self-described "gadabout" and victim of a traumatic second-grade dance faux pas, says Good Foot helped him overcome his fear of cutting rugs in public because of its laid-back, nonjudgmental atmosphere. "If you want to lose yourself in the dark with 150 other sweaty dancers feeling the funk," Sloan says, "the Good Foot is where you go."
Delgadillo and Owens worked hard to create a nonthreatening environment in which anyone would feel comfortable letting it all hang out. "We wanted Good Foot to be a place people could go to dance and forget about their 9-to-5s," Delgadillo says. "It didn't matter if you could dance or not. There's no pointing fingers."
A huge part of the club's allure is Owens and Delgadillo's impressive knack for deep cuts, compelling casual music fans to hit the dance floor while managing to blow the minds of the hardened soul aficionados. Scouring stacks can be exhilarating, Delgadillo says, looking for rare funk 45s or obscure albums by Brazilian crooner Emílio Santiago or straight-up soul artists such as Chuck Jackson or the Fabulous Counts.
The hunt is half the fun. Owens and Delgadillo hit up garage sales, estate sales, thrift stores, eBay and, their favorite destination, independent record retailers. It wouldn't be a stretch to say the Good Foot is more an extension of their record collection than vice versa.
"Vinyl sounds so different than an MP3 because it's recorded analog," Delgadillo says, waxing poetic. "You are hearing the actual sounds the way it should sound, not a bunch of zeroes and ones you hear on the computer. The MP3s cut out the high-frequency information. With records, you just feel it more—and the way it was meant to be heard."