For years, the second Friday of the month in Long Beach used to offer a treasured portal into a dark, blistering parallel universe permanently suspended somewhere around 1967. A bouncer took your $5 bill and welcomed you into a divey jungle full of sharp-dressed funk-o-philes--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.
This week, armed with stacks of Stax, Atlantic, Chess, Motown and more, DJs Dennis Owens and Rodi Delgadillo are bringing back the much loved monthly soul and funk club, the Good Foot. After a two-year hiatus, it's time once again to get up on the get down.
The celebrated club, as much ritual for regulars as it was routine for its founders, packed the Que Sera's hardwood dance floor for 13 years solid until they gave up the second Friday slot in September 2011. To much fanfare, on Friday, September 13, the Good Foot returns on the club's 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 like Scott Weaver (of OO Soul), Bobby Soul (of Boogaloo Assasins, 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.
Delgadillo returned stateside full-time not long after the last Que Sera Good Foot, and immediately put the pressure on Owens to bring back the funk. But Owens wasn't quite ready, particularly since he hadn't completely quit Good Foot, putting in time with 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 their four-year anniversary. Owens knew not to 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 where anyone would feel comfortable letting it all hang out. "We wanted Good Foot to be a place people could go and 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 Good Foot'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 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 just straight up soul by artists like Chuck Jackson or the Fabulous Counts.
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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 the 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."
The Good Foot is at Alex's Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292; www.alexsbar.com. 9 p.m. $5 before 10 p.m.; $7 after. 21+.