Lounging on plush couches and overstuffed armchairs, and sitting at bistro tables appliqued with collage art, the thirty- and fortysomething patrons at the candle-lit Now Art Cafe in Hollywood were expecting, as usual, to hear the languid strains of a New-Age guitarist. But, on a recent Monday night, they were in for a surprise. Antenna is the name given to the new electronic-music night at the cafe, and soon enough the mature, latte-sipping crowd was listening to jungle-style electronica and drum 'n' bass jams spun by local DJs.
For a while they hung in there, even as teens and twentysomethings made their way into the cafe, sporting baggy jeans and pierced ears, noses, and eyebrows. But by the time DJ Cookie Headz of Miami finished spinning an abrasive industrial-noise loop over more mellifluous sounds, the older folks were gone.
Leaving was their loss, according to DJ Anomaly, a.k.a. Mike Burns. "That's what this night is all about -- hearing sounds that you won't hear anywhere else," he says.
But there's more to it than that. Angel Spence, Now Art's owner, says the new Monday-night lineup was designed to bring in a younger crowd. "We decided to change the channel and let people with a little higher energy level take the place over," she says.
Burns began his DJ career years ago, when he was working the turntables at high-school parties. After graduating from the University of Florida in Gainesville last year, he returned to South Florida and began to spin again. Through gigs he became friends with a group of underground-scene vets and promoters, including DJ James, Xiomara Alvarez, and Ian Elbrand, co-owner of Hardware, an urban-culture clothing shop near Now Art. They agreed that setting up a weeknight gig in a smoke-free establishment would be a healthy alternative to the raves usually held in smoky, cavernous clubs, and they approached Spence with the idea.
In addition to providing clean air, the Now Art Cafe is "an intimate place," says Burns, who also serves as emcee. "It needs music that is a little more intimate, music that will reach your soul and your heart and your mind, not just your butt."
Electronica's many subgenres provide plenty of variety, from the floating ambient sounds spun by Jungle Girl to the butt-shaking break beats with which DJ Shannon closed the recent show, at 2 a.m.
Says Burns: "I want [patrons] to feel like they stepped into some little coffee shop in Europe for a while and zoned into another land."