“Last night was a reminder of why I do what I do,” DJ Dennis Owens says the day after spinning rare classic funk and soul records at a set at the Long Beach Funk Fest. “I was playing James Brown, and I saw little kids B-boying. That's the power of funk. It still speaks.”
Owens—once a ska-band front man who cites Dead Kennedys as a major influence—discovered funk with his best friend Rodi Delgadillo. The two have been spreading the power of the timeless genre ever since founding Good Foot, a monthly dance club that will end its epic 13-year run on its anniversary next week.
Before the Crosby blared Free the Robots through its boombox wall and Detroit Bar let Steve Aoki spin onstage, Owens and Delgadillo were making feet move every second Friday at Long Beach's Que Sera as resident DJs of Good Foot.
“It's hard to believe it has lasted for 13 years,” Delgadillo says via phone from his home in Osaka, Japan, where he moved six years ago, “but we definitely accomplished what we set out to do and even more than we ever imagined.”
It was mid-'90s clubs such as Santa Monica's drum-and-bass night Science and Garden Grove's Golden State Soul Society that first inspired the two budding record collectors to start spinning themselves. They watched in awe as DJs threw on rare tracks and people lost themselves on the dance floor, thrashing around as if no one were watching. For Owens, the primal energy was reminiscent of his punk days, that intangible feeling of uncontrolled, youthful movement.
“That's what music should do,” he says. “It's such an empowering thing, and so if I have this access to music I think is great, and people are feeling it, it's a win-win situation.”
The idea for Good Foot, then, was simple—re-create the atmosphere they witnessed in their own club experiences by playing a spontaneously curated mix of classics and deep cuts to a diverse crowd of scene-rejecting twentysomethings. Through years of relentless fliering in both Los Angeles and Orange County, it worked.
People came from all over Southern California to shed their inhibitions to infectious beats by everyone from Bill Withers to Fela Kuti. Que Sera's set-up makes Good Foot's focus on the music, with the off-to-the-side, elevated booth rendering the music master nearly invisible.
“Our goal was to make people dance and forget about the problems of their everyday life,” Delgadillo says. “Even if you can't dance, it doesn't really matter. Nobody's trying to impress anyone.”
The consistent popularity of Good Foot is seconded only by the consistency of the night in general. Since the beginning, it has remained in the same location on the same night and, until just a few years ago, was unfailingly attended by both of its founders.
Though Delgadillo now lives in Japan—where his wife is from—he deejayed every month until his departure and still spins while in town during the holidays, specifically at Good Foot Christmas, a special version of the club that will continue to happen at Alex's Bar every Dec. 25. Owens has missed a few months at Good Foot because his latest band, Free Moral Agents, have been playing more shows. On its final night, thanks to a friend who works at American Airlines, the best-friend DJ team will be reunited at Good Foot once again.
“I don't want to overstay my welcome,” Owens says. “I feel like me and Rodi did something good, and we're ending it right. Whenever anyone looks back on Good Foot, I want them to say, 'Yeah, that was a fucking good club.'”
This article appeared in print as “It's Been a Funky Good Time: After 13 years, Good Foot ends on a high note.”
Sarah Bennett is a freelance journalist who has spent nearly a decade covering food, music, craft beer, arts, culture and all sorts of bizarro things that interest her for local, regional and national publications.