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E3rd Steakhouse & Lounge
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Soundlessons - a monthly party with Hip Hop and beyond in LA

by Rachel Levin
February 23, 2008
E3rd Steakhouse & Lounge
734 East 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
213-680-3003
4th Saturday of every month
10 p.m.-2 a.m.
$10 before 11 p.m.
It had been too long since I'd had a good sound lesson. Ever since the Chocolate Bar retired its weekly post at Gabah last year, I've been searching for a group of DJs that can approximate Chocolate Bar's notoriously danceable mix of hip hop and reggae blended with a dose of hip hop pedagogy—rare grooves and underground joints to expand the mind.

The resident DJs at Soundlessons, a monthly promotion that has found a new home at E3rd Steakhouse near Little Tokyo, dig deep into their crates to school the crowd on the underground sound. Though Soundlessons has been roving the city for almost eight years now, I caught it for the first time on Saturday.

From the minute we arrived, the cult of the DJ was apparent. The evening was a tribute to hip hop legend J-Dilla. In the patio out back, a screenprinting operation had been set up where Dilla devotees could customize their choice of Dilla designs to make their own one-of-a-kind t-shirts. Inside, the crowd gathered in front of the turntables and bobbed their heads as if listening to a professor giving an inspired lecture rather than a DJ crossing the fader.

Yes, this was a studious group. They eschewed frivolous clubwear and came in their jeans, t-shirts, and cool knit caps or fedoras. And the diverse patrons, like the music, stuck to the positive—no gangster element or gratuitous bling (or gratuitous grinding, for that matter).

As much as I appreciated the superb sound lesson and down-to-earth crowd, I couldn't figure out why more people weren't dancing. There were a few spontaneous circles that formed, inside which b-boys strutted their stuff. Several couples had their own private parties of movement. But to me, the infectiousness of the grooves should have had the whole floor exploding in irrepressible motion. Instead, the crowd couldn't take their eyes off the DJ altar at which they worshipped, opting to bounce in place and pump their arms in approval.

It's possible that a non-Dilla tribute night might bring a more danceable atmosphere. I'm certainly willing to repeat the class and find out. Regardless, I'd give the sound lesson itself an A+. I've definitely found my new source for higher hip hop education.

For more information, visit www.soundlessons.com
A couple dancing at Soundlessons

A couple dancing at Soundlessons

Photo © & courtesy of Rachel Levin


The cult of the DJ at Soundlessons

The cult of the DJ at Soundlessons

Photo © & courtesy of Rachel Levin

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