Before there's creativity, there's energy. It can be frozen on a canvas, displayed on a stage or expended upon a dance floor.
These expressions of energy traditionally have been mutually exclusive, but leave it to a few nightclub refugees with something to prove to attempt a little cultural fusion.
That's what Christian Manchester and Robert Diaz have done in creating the downtown L.A. art space Club Mobius. Part art gallery, part performance space and part DJ-driven dance party, Mobius, which opened in June, may be the only L.A. nightclub to continually host fashion and art exhibits, world-class DJs and modern-dance performances in the course of an average night. Diaz and Manchester, both veteran nightclub professionals and CalArts alumni, thrive on the sensory overload -- as, apparently, do their patrons.
"That was my favorite thing about going to CalArts: I went to an art opening every Thursday. I went to a film screening three times a week," says Diaz, now 31, of the experience that proved formative for him and Manchester, 26. "I miss that energy and I miss that creativity."
After graduating from CalArts four years ago, Diaz and Manchester formed the lighting, sound and production company Whump Sound, which they'd started putting together while they were students.
Now, the duo engineers sound for international DJ heavyweights such as Danny Tenaglia or Sasha and John Digweed when they play L.A. They also have provided local event production services for Diesel Clothing and Urb magazine.
These connections helped Mobius pull in some of last year's most memorable club nights out, such as the KCRW-sponsored appearance of trip-hop DJ-producer Mr. Scruff and the local date for Nesh, the U.S. tour by artists on the renowned British techno-experimental rock label Warp.
Mobius balances high-profile offerings with more unusual fare, such as Gallery, an exhibition spotlighting local artists, put on by DJ John Kelly and curated by Solid Promotions on the first Friday of each month. For these parties, the second floor of the club is transformed into a gallery space, while the first floor acts as a dance floor and viewing area for video artists on Mobius' new 9-foot video wall.
On Saturday, Mobius will be the site for Dream Loud, a benefit for children affected by AIDS in honor of Martin Luther King's birthday, featuring hip-hop, house and electronica music, spoken word and dance performances and an art exhibition.
Outsider art dealers and roving-party promoters have spent years throwing similarly themed "arty-parties" in locations all around the city, and still do. But the rise of permanent spaces such as Mobius suggests that the movement may finally be pitching its tent.
With Whump paying the bills, Diaz and Manchestra plan to do more with the space in coming months. They intend to upgrade Mobius to a 5.1 surround sound environment and offer sound and lighting design workshops for local high schools.
Says Diaz: "L.A. deserves a space that has the technology and the creative people to put their energy into it to really create some great shows."
Where: 209 S. Garey St., L.A.
When: Schedule varies. Call or check Web site for current information.
Age: 21 and over
Info: (323) 974-2664 or www.clubmobius.com