*A correction was made to this article on June 27, 2007.
"The parties were getting out of control—they were getting way too big," Mikey Bernard recalls, detailing his modest beginnings as just another Long Beach party kid. Within a year, he would became one of the city's favorite DJs, under the heritage-appropriate alias Le French Kanadian. Wanting nothing more than the simple enjoyment of playing music for his friends, Bernard began throwing parties at his house in downtown Long Beach's East Village, but the crowds soon overran his place. "So much beer was spilled," he reminisces, not at all wistfully. "I got so tired of it, so I decided to start a club."
That's when Bernard turned to Que Sera, a dark, dreary hole in the wall on Seventh Street, and convinced management to take his house parties to a more legitimate—and renter-friendly—level. "It's important to have a usual club where cool kids can go," Bernard says. "Long Beach has a definite lack of nightclubs." Que Sera agreed: Call Sick On Friday was born and succeeded in luring all those cool kids out on a weeknight to dance to indie rock and electropop. For the past nine months, Call Sick On Friday has been going strong every first and third Thursday.
Le French Kanadian's career started in Brooklyn at Union Pool. Nobody was playing any music, so Bernard was asked to DJ. He had a natural talent, and he knew what people wanted to (and should, if they know what's good for them) hear. Hailing from Montreal, Bernard took up the handle of Le French Kanadian and kept to his roots while deciding on play lists. Favoring buzz-worthy bands from our northern neighbor, Le French Kanadian spins the hell out of the Unicorns, Broken Social Scene, Wolf Parade and the Lovely Feathers, among others.
Not one to hog the spotlight, Bernard also likes to help out other local DJs (like Call Sick regulars Mashed Potatoes) whose only gigs had been at house parties. "I'm just helping out friends," he says with a shrug.
Bernard has morphed his host-of-the-party lifestyle into a full-fledged career. In April, he took on the challenge of opening yet another club in Long Beach called Club Touch It, held at the swanky Mensa Lounge on the first, second and third Saturday of the month.
Exquisitely dressed and always smiling at his events, Bernard will remember your name, ask you about your new job/boyfriend/sick mother, and then buy you a drink. He does the whole social-butterfly thing, floating from one group of people to the next, making sure everyone's having a good time before he gets to the turntables. It's tough to make a living just playing music and being ultra-hip, but Bernard manages. "I buy so many drinks for everyone, pay the bouncers and all that stuff, I end up leaving all my money at the club!" he claims. But that doesn't stop him from paying for lunches with a Benjamin, as he did at the end of our interview. What's Qubecois for "playa"?
LE FRENCH KANADIAN DJS AT CALL SICK ON FRIDAY AT QUE SERA, 1923 E. SEVENTH ST., LONG BEACH, (562) 599-6170; WWW.MYSPACE.COM/CALLSICKONFRIDAY. EVERY FIRST AND THIRD THURSDAY. CALL FOR TIME AND COVER; AND AT CLUB TOUCH IT AT MENSA LOUNGE, 329 PACIFIC AVE., LONG BEACH, (562) 432-2788; WWW.MYSPACE.COM/CLUBTOUCHIT. THE FIRST THREE SATURDAYS OF EVERY MONTH. CALL FOR TIME AND COVER.
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