BY DENNIS ROMERO
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Quietly, with little of the nihilistic self-promotion seen in a new generation of spinners, Marques Wyatt has been one of the most-influential West Coast DJs of the super-club era. In 1988 - 1988! - he co-promoted a night that celebrated house music, a year before the sound would help inspire rave culture in the U.K. Not long after that he hosted "Brass" acid jazz parties that showcased the likes of the Brand New Heavies and Jamiroquai.
From 1992 to 1999 Wyatt hosted an after-hours house music happening in Hollywood called Does Your Mama Know. It was the stuff of legend, a rare dance floor in L.A. where industry elites bumped booties with hardcore queens and record-spotting dance music fanatics. The energy - dancers would literally stomp, whistle and vogue - was unprecedented, and sometimes it felt like a Sunday morning sermon at a black Baptist church (which would be happening at about the same time). Legends spun records there almost anonymously, in a nook of a booth that contained an old-school, rotary mixer. New York's Danny Tenaglia, one of the world's most respected DJs, recalls his gigs there fondly. Wyatt even gave the title "Does Yo Mama Know Revival Mix" to his remix of the genre's most-defining song, "House Music," by Eddie Amador.
Wyatt's own sound, too, reflects ahead-of-the-curve taste that can't be subdued by his modesty. His breezy, West Coast style often covers similar ground as peers such as Miguel Migs, Kaskade and Jay-J Hernandez. But Wyatt's long blends and thick bass-lines are just as likely to find connections with dub-house king Doc Martin and bell-bottom raver Garth. While he has imported New York's greatest, most-soulful DJs (Louie Vega was a resident) for his latest, greatest club night, Deep (Sundays at Vanguard Hollywood), Wyatt maintains his own heavy-kick, Golden State style. Even East Coaster Dennis Ferrer's ode to Deep, "Underground is My Home," cracks with a spacey sense of California swing that is Wyatt's own calling card. Today it's almost strange to hear trendy DJs, like members of the DFA clan, or refugees fleeing from the "minimal techno" label, playing Deep-style. Wyatt was there all along, and we're betting he'll be there long after the wood on the dance floor gets a new layer of varnish.
Marques Wyatt spins Tuesday, July 14 at Focus at Tapas, 4253 Martingale Way, Newport Beach. 18+. $5 before 10:30 with RSVP, $12 after. Doors at 9:30. Info: focus-oc.com.