Mark Farina & Colette
Last night, we headed to Focus— the Tuesday night party at Tapas in Newport Beach— which celebrated it's nine year anniversary as the longest running all house music night in Orange County. Josh Billings, who is also a well known DJ and producer in OC, has built an incredible Tuesday night institution with his Focus family DJs Nonfiction and Wobs who, along with Billings, opened the party last night. House music legends Colette and Mark Farina continued the soundtrack for a fabulous evening that celebrated house music and the community who has embraced it for almost a decade in OC.
Feeling a lot like a weekend rager the line outside Focus was out the door and around the corner as hundreds of house heads of all ages (the night is 18 and over) came out to celebrate. We heard some people waited up to an hour to get in, without complaining even though they are devoted weekly attendees– just because they have a passion for the music and wanted to show their support. Underground house nights can be challenging, but Focus has proven that sticking to something in which you really believe and not adapting to what's popular or mainstream can really come to fruition and be a celebrated success.
Tired of the same cliché electronic dance music at clubs and big festivals which don't accurately represent electronic dance music's foundations, Focus was a breath of fresh air as true house music of all pedigrees filled the room and got the packed dance floor writhing all night long. Imagine the old-school Chicago house scene at a dingy, underground darkly lit warehouse or bar/club where fans came to escape and get lost in the music. That's exactly what Focus brings to the table and last night all in attendance where celebrating it.
DJ Colette, born Colette Marino, blew us away as her captivating voice sang over her own live mixing with her enthralling house sound that puts your mind at ease and gets your feet grooving to the beat. Dance circles formed in the crowd as club goers showed off all sorts of styles (so refreshing from the normal “shuffle” we see at most clubs). “People from all over the world come to play this night,” says Colette. “Everyone knows about it and it's an amazing time.” We can see why playing at Focus would be better than at a weekend hot spot where the club-goers are mainly there to party and may only want bangers and songs they are familiar with.
It was remarkable to see people interacting, sharing a drink, dancing in front of the speakers booming house music and not on their phones or cameras the entire night. This evening wasn't about I saw the biggest name DJ, it was about real house music that you may or may not know but you knew it made you feel good and feel a connection with the people around you. Sure confetti filled the room as Mark Farina got on decks, but we felt in this case it was rightfully so as a legend was stepping into our presence ready to take us on a musical journey. “I'm always house, 24/7,” says Farina before his set. “It makes me feel like I am just playing for family when I come here.”
Mark Farina brought this family of house heads together for almost two hours, and even though we didn't recognize ONE track he played, it really didn't matter–the points where a track began and ended were irrelevant for most of the night. What mattered was the ability to immerse ourselves in an experience and feeling the music with our friends old and new, dancing and having a great time. “This is arguably the best Tuesday night weekly in the country,” said Farina. “For Josh and the Focus family to be so devoted and confident in their product and to continue it for almost a decade is amazing.”
“What I think is great about this night is that it's celebrating a family. People that come together, love the genre and are all positive,” says Colette. When asked about the evolution of dance music or EDM as we now call it she says, “I think it's unfortunate that people are getting into feuds over something that's ridiculous because there is room for everyone and you just have to find your place.” Club Focus in Orange County has definitely found it's place as a staple house music institution where it doesn't matter what you wear, how much money you make or where you come from. What matters here is that you love the music and want to share the love with others like you.
Critics Bias: Though I haven't been in the dance music scene as long as some of the veterans in attendance, I imagine Focus is the kind of club the legendary DJs I've interviewed keep reminiscing to me about.
The Crowd: House heads, music lovers of all ages, DJs, dancers and people from all walks of life.
Overheard in the Crowd: “Mark you may not be a God, but you have some God given talents when it comes to music!”
Random Notebook Dump: We mentioned the music was phenomenal, the crowd was great and the vibe was surreal – but did we tell you how mouth watering the $1 tacos are all night long? Amaze.