Los Angeles Times

It's sure to get you sweating

In the middle of an industrial nowhere in the San Gabriel Valley, there's a spacious hang called the D Club. And on a recent Thursday, Confessions of a Monster is tearing it up at the Azusa nightspot.

For all the kids care, the Oxnard psychobilly trio may as well be a postmodern take on the Go-Gos, with the roles of Belinda Carlisle and Gina Schock being played by twentysomething Latina sisters. Their stand-up bass player, with his well-coiffed mohawk, is simply excited to be seen outside Ventura County.

"All in all, it was a good night," says bassist Fabio Montes, after their set. "It's a nice club, great stage, the sound's OK. It's basically a cool place."

On this night, the 18-and-older club is full of fans coming down to swarm in the pits that form as bands such as Confessions and Los Difuntos take the stage.

The monthly psychobilly evening is hosted by Ulysses Ramos, a Rancho Cucamonga native who's been on the scene since 1998.

"I started by booking mainly rock en español," Ramos says. "Now the psychobilly scene is so relevant, I'm finding more and more great bands to bring up from Mexico and South American countries." Ramos says the shows are becoming so popular he's starting a new weekly night at D Club on Fridays called "Skull and Bones," beginning this week.

And the D Club greets the droves with open arms, helped by the fact that there's no neighbors to complain for miles around.

The nightclub's been around for decades, but for the last two years, it's been under new ownership and the club's seeing a nice revival.

"There's so much seating, so many rooms, a huge open-air patio, and they're willing to take chances on different types of music, which other clubs aren't," Ramos says.

Except on Thursdays, when DJ Blade runs the show. It may as well be 1984 — though the kids are wearing '80s fashion with a modern attitude. If you happen to be old enough to remember, the music will transport you back in time, to an era when George Michael was king and Boy George was queen.

The refreshing scene is reminiscent of clubs like Bang, a Hollywood staple that keeps the kids dancing to retro hits until they're sweat soaked.

At the D Club, DJ Blade keeps them happy and guessing.

"I spin everything from '80s pop to hard-core German industrial," says Blade, who throws in a few modern hits for good measure (think AFI, Tiger Army and Nirvana).

Blade adds that clubgoers can't get enough of all things gothic. In fact, goth is a key element in the D Club's thriving psychobilly scene, which is somewhat like listening to Social Distortion mashed with early Cure.

The subject matter is deep and dark, but the sounds are melodic; most of the bands have stand-up basses.

Among the other nights, the D Club's popping out a smattering of hip-hop, reggaeton, cumbia and salsa nights. But Thursdays are consistently the 1,000-capacity club's biggest draw, as cars snake around the block to enter the parking lot. (And did we mention the free parking and huge lot? That's a nice break from the price gouging that has taken over Hollywood.)

"I wasn't even born until the mid-'80s," says Sonia Fuentes, a 21-year-old art school student who shows up each week. "But I feel so much more connected to that era than this era, and the music is the thing that draws me in."

As last call is closing in, some classic Joy Division moves everyone back to the dance floor. Throughout the night, the attitude's been relaxed.

"We always make sure there's no colors, no drama. We've hired more security just as a precaution, but the truth is, this is one easy club to have a good time at," Ramos says.

"And the people who come here are just happy to have something in the San Gabriel Valley that reflects their lifestyle."


D Club

Where: 975 Foothill Blvd., Azusa

When: Open 9 p.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays, 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Fridays, 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. Saturdays. 18 and older.

Price: Cover varies

Info: www.dclubazusa.com

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