*This article was modified on Dec. 24, 2010.
The annual A Very Good Foot Christmas at Alex’s Bar is what you call a win-win. Either you’re getting wild on the dance floor to the sweet sounds of classic soul music because you had an awesome Christmas with family whom you’d actually be friends with even if you weren’t related to them, or you’re getting hammered because you can’t believe you wasted a perfectly fine day with people you dislike so much you can only stand to see them once a year.
The event is the funky creation of Long Beach resident Dennis Owens, who throws the traditional Good Foot the second Friday of every month at Que Sera. But the Dec. 25 version of this much-beloved bash allows the DJ to dust off those records that don’t make sense the other 11 months of the year. It’s also a pretty awesome excuse for partygoers to admit to liking “Joy to the World” after secretly blasting it on their iPods the entire month.
OC Weekly: How did Good Foot begin?
Dennis Owens: I started Good Foot with my best friend Rodi Delgadillo in September 1998. Our band [Action League] had broken up a month before, and we wanted to do something very different. Before our band broke up, Rodi and I started going out to different types of dance clubs. There was a club in Santa Monica called Science that played drum and bass. This was around 1997 or 1998. I’ll never forget how I felt when I first walked into that club. From the second I walked in, people were moving. The people at the very front of the club were swaying to the music. As I moved closer to where the action was, the movements became more intense. When I reached the dance floor, it was a free-for-all. I saw all different types of people from all walks of life going off in perfect harmony. That night changed me. From that point on, I wanted to create an atmosphere in which people could get lost in the music.
Vinyl purists look down on DJs who use electronic devices such as iPods. What say you?
It doesn’t matter what format you use to deejay, as long as you have flow and can communicate with a crowd.
How long has Good Foot Christmas existed? How did it get started?
Good Foot Christmas started about six or seven years ago. There was nothing to do on Christmas night, and Rodi and I wanted to do something fun.
Since you’ve been doing Good Foot at Que Sera for more than a decade, why not do A Very Good Foot Christmas there, too?
Rodi and I have been friends with [Alex’s Bar owner] Alex Hernandez for many years. It’s a fun change of pace to do a Good Foot at a different venue once a year, and Alex’s Bar was the perfect place to do it. That’s the only reason. I love Que Sera.
Why do people need to get funky on Christmas?
Christmas is far more stressful than it needs to be, and dancing is an amazing way to let off steam.
For our audience playing at home, what’s an ideal soul Christmas playlist?
“Merry Christmas, Baby” by Otis Redding, Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas,” “Christmas Cookin’” by Jimmy Smith, Phil Spector’s Christmas album, and any Stax or Motown Christmas album.
Are there any songs in the soul genre that just don’t work for Christmas? If so, what are they and why?
I can’t think of any right now. Soul artists are very good at turning lemons into lemonade.
Of all the holidays, does Christmas have the most or least amount of soul?
I’m not a fan of the rampant materialism that goes on during this time of year, but the thing I love most about Christmas is that it brings family and friends together. That’s soulful.
A Very Good Foot Christmas at Alex’s Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292; www.alexsbar.com. Sat., 9 p.m. Free. 21+.
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This column appeared in print as “O Souly Night.”