Sprawl of Sound

A catfight broke out on a recent Wednesday night at Avalon Bar. One young woman talked shit to another young woman, and a beer bottle was thrown at the shit-talker, but it hit the shit-talker's friend instead. Security moved quickly to quell the fracas. You might say emotions run high at Dirty Money, the weekly shindig thrown by Orange County DJs Jay Cash, Tea-Long and Bb Guns.

The above skirmish transpired while I was interviewing Dirty Money's three heads outside of this tiny box of a venue on Costa Mesa's west side. Turns out the shit-talker is a close friend of Jay Cash. Apparently, he likes his women as raucous as the music he spins at the club.

About six months ago, Cash and his crew took over Avalon's Wednesdays from the popular Acid Girls DJ clique after the latter moved to Berlin (some members appear to have moved back to Costa Mesa). Dirty Money's principals had been fans of Acid Girls' electro-tinged hedonism, and Cash was rooming with Acid Girls member Greg Bowler, so the transition was logical and smooth.

The young trio strive to counter OC's flashier clubs, where the clothes you sport and the vehicle you have valet-parked seem to take precedence over what's coming out of the speakers. To that end, Dirty Money charges nothing to enter and offers patrons free PBRs from 10 to 11 p.m. The gratis brews help to loosen up the crowd for the barrage of bangers emanating from the D$ boys' hard drives (all use Serato).

Dirty Money (ironically) waives the cover "because it's not about the money with us; it's about the crowd and the vibe that the whole place brings," Tea-Long says.

"It's about making girls dance," Cash elaborates.

"And then having sex with you afterward, right?" I obnoxiously insinuate.

"Or during," Cash says. "That's what the VIP room is for. Tony's VIP room is the bathroom."

"[O]ur idea was to keep it kind of grungy," Bb Guns says. "Free entry, free drinks, different kinds of music. It's not so trendy and following what all these bourgie clubs are doing."

"And we book local talent, nobody too big," Cash says. "Our friends, basically."

Thankfully, Dirty Money's friends have the deck skills to make such nepotism welcome (they've never dealt with a booking agent and don't plan to). Plus, nurturing young talent ensures that D$'s legacy can be furthered by others in the future. Through MySpace bulletins, fliers and sparkling word-of-mouth recommendations, the threesome have built an impressive, loyal clientele. The recent start of Dan Sena's Busywork night across the street at Detroit Bar has created a salubrious synergy, too. But the keys to D$'s success are the keen aesthetics and diversity the main trio manifest. Their styles are complementary, keeping things from becoming one-dimensional or tedious.

"We try to stay new," Cash declares, "anything electro-y, hard, fun and funky."

"A lot depends on the crowd. I'll play the hard stuff, the ghetto-tech," Tea-Long says.

"We'll often start slowly and get harder when people get a little more drunk," Cash says. "We'll take it to a higher energy."

"We all have distinct styles," Bb Guns says. "[Cash] will go into the slower disco and more indie stuff; Tony will go into the harder stuff like Justice; and I'll go into the harder disco and early-'80s/late-'70s tracks. Surprisingly, people are not here for the mainstream stuff. They're here for the different genres we play."

Some of the sounds kicking their asses lately include B-more club music; the DFA label's output; M.I.A.'s new album, Kala, especially "Paper Planes"; Diplo; Switch; Green Velvet's "Shake and Pop"; a load of French dirty disco (Justice, SebastiAn, Busy P); Emperor Machine; Chromeo; Simian Mobile Disco; Sinden; and stuff on the Kitsuné, Institubes, Ed Banger and Modular labels.

As evidenced by the aforementioned artists and labels, Dirty Money is working similar terrain as such LA parties as Steve Aoki's Dim Mak Tuesdays at Cinespace and Franki Chan's biweekly Check Yo' Ponytail at Echoplex. (On a similar tip, Tea-Long and Bb Guns also play at Discoteca the last Saturday of every month at Detroit, and Cash hosts Mondays at Avalon with his pal Dax.) In addition to the b-Sides and Double-Fisted (held Fridays and Saturdays at Avalon), all of these forces are turning indie-rock kids onto fresh dance music and injecting a lot of juiced-up adrenaline into a club scene that requires frequent rejuvenating shots of new, inventive tunes to keep it thriving.

Dirty Money's triumvirate of party-igniting jocks are saving Orange County hipsters and photo bloggers from the long, energy/cash-draining trip to Los Angeles while giving the City of Angels' dance moguls a run for their filthy lucre. Come for the music, stay for the chica-on-chica dust-ups.



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