You would expect the wild crowds of college kids from Cal State Fullerton to take over just about every bar its downtown district has to offer. But on Saturday nights at the Continental Room, Fullerton's oldest drinking establishment (built in 1925) hosts Electric Saturdays, to a crowd Edward Daniel Mihai describes as "OG house heads." Basically it's a mix of young twentysomethings who like to party and the 40-year-olds looking for the best old fashioned in town. The music format has been the same for the past four years–down tempo grooves of deep and tech house early in the night, with a gradual shift to Beatport's banging, big room beats du jour. Every weekend, the tiny crescent moon-shaped dance floor is filled to capacity. With no cover charge and stiff drinks, it's no wonder the line outside is sometimes up to an hour long.
The dim lights and classic Frank Sinatra era red décor transforms the dated club into a kind of speakeasy for savvy dance music lovers. "You wouldn't expect that in a spot in Fullerton," says Mihai, the resident DJ for the past four years. With little to no promotion, he has managed to create an EDM sanctuary for far longer than you've been hearing Avicii on the radio. He has given many local OC DJs their chance to man the decks to warm up the crowd and as of late has been holding it down with his turntable co-pilot Menikmati. "We just vibe and work together well," Mihai says. Previous guest sets include DJ Irene, Charles Feelgood, Static Revenger and even an impromptu show by Skrillex.
Earlier this month, Mihai's skills garnered a nice profile boost, snagging the OC Music Award for Best Club DJ (full disclosure: he's among the many academy members for the OCMAs with the power to nominate acts for consideration). In his spare time, he throws showcases and a record swap meet for the House of Blues a few times a month. These connections helped him gain an official Billboard 100 charting remix for the Used's "I Come Alive,"on which he collaborated with Las Vegas DJ REVOLVR last year. After dropping his old moniker, "DJ Thrifty Lips," he made his debut on OC label Acropolis Records in February of 2012 under the shortened name Daniel Mihai with an electro house tune, "Run Home to Momma," which he worked on with local favorites Aaron Marcus, Dangerhouse and Ei8ht.
Since then, he has released tracks with DJ Scotty Boy's tech house alias Fyasco under Long Beach's Circuit Freq Records and joined Vegas Light resident Stellar's label Calamity of Noise. "The label is more like a fucking family. We're all friends and always look out for each other," Mihai says. Recently, Mihai played the 10th-annual Groove Cruise alongside artists Cosmic Gate, Gareth Emery, Cedric Gervais and Markus Schulz. After also playing the LA Groove Cruise he says, "Yeah, it's a 96-hour dance festival on a ship, but the people were a lot different than at the LA one. Lots of swingers. I'm not really into that shit, but I did meet some awesome people and artist."
After doing the cruise and hitting it off with big name DJs such as EDX, Marco Lys and Supernova, he plans to step up his production game with a few collaborations. With singles due out this year on Calamity of Noise Records, Mihai has his eyes set on using his current momentum to continue growing. The jack-of-all-trades has also been going to Pro Barber College and graduates this summer. "My thing is I want to not only travel as a DJ, but I want to travel as a barber cutting DJs' hair, too," he says. "I plan on opening a music-based barber shop for DJs and bands in OC or LA." Sounds like a good way to cut a niche into the growing EDM world.
Daniel Mihai performs (with a weekly guest) at Electric Saturdays at the Continental Room, 115 W. Santa Fe Ave., Fullerton, (714) 469-1879; www.continentalroom.com. Every Sat., 9 p.m. Free. 21+.