Many cultures, but ‘one love’

Special to The Times

You can find Bob Marley’s feeling of “one love” in Los Angeles -- on a Sunday night.

Jamaican Gold, the reggae night at the El Rey Theatre, courses with it, with hip-hop playas, Rasta men and women and L.A. scenesters packing the place every week. In fact, clubgoers can be found waiting in line on Wilshire Boulevard even at 1 a.m., seeking a taste of the eclectic mix of hip-hop, reggae and dance hall that coexist happily.

On the crowded wooden dance floor, which starts jumping around 11 p.m. when DJs start kicking in the hip-hop and invite women to strut their stuff on the stage, the vibe remains friendly and easygoing.

If reggae is about one love, the 9-year-old Jamaican Gold promotion encapsulates that, uniting a wide range of cultures and ethnicities, with African Americans, Latinos, Asians and whites merging into one big melting pot.


“The thing about this club is it’s not the faces, it’s the vibe you get from different people,” says Eduardo Sandbao, who’s been coming to Jamaican Gold for seven years. “Different cultures bring the different vibes. And it’s just the vibe that keeps you coming back; it’s the music, the people. When you step in that door you forget everything else that’s out there. People bring you a lot of love in here.”

Tiffany Ross, a relative newcomer to the Jamaican Gold scene, seconds that sentiment. “The atmosphere, the vibe, the people, everybody, the bartenders, the security, it’s like one love,” Ross says of what brings her from Orange County most Sunday nights. “People hardly fight here, there’s no drama, everyone’s just cool; they’re out to have a good time and respect one another and I like that.”

Many patrons such as Sandbao and his friend Jose Lopez have followed the night on its amazing journey through several of L.A.’s best-known clubs. Trying to recall every venue the night has called home, co-promoter Jamie Koz laughs and runs down a laundry list that includes the Century Club, the Knitting Factory, Kingston 12, Dragonfly (where he and co-promoter Quie Anthony still do a weekly Thursday night event, Jamaica Live) and the Martini Lounge, among others.

Koz feels good about the new locale. “We’ve been at the El Rey since June 6, and I haven’t been happier in a long time,” says Koz, who DJs under the name White Lightning. “It was definitely a positive move going to the El Rey because people were just excited about me here.”

The good vibes trickle down to the staff, then the customers. One of the impressive things about Jamaican Gold is the personal touch they put on, whether it be making fans part of the festivities by inviting them on stage, saying hello to the regulars or giving birthday shoutouts from the stage.

Koz believes that, no matter how much the club grows at its new home, the down-home feeling is essential to Jamaican Gold’s continued success. “It’s very hard to get somebody to come out to Jamaican Gold the first time,” he says, “but once they come out they come back.”


The other thing that keeps fans coming back is the music. Lopez, who performs reggae in Spanish, says Jamaican Gold is always on the cutting edge: “When you come here you see something new and you want to take advantage of where you come from. It’s always good to learn and expand your horizons and I come here to do that.”

Koz, a native New Yorker who fell in love with reggae after finding a Yellowman tape at the age of 11, is impressed with Angelenos’ love and knowledge of reggae. “When I first was doing Jamaican Gold we were getting more hip-hop people,” he says. “Now if I’m gone too long and they play hip-hop too long people are like, ‘I don’t want to hear hip-hop. This is a reggae club.’ ”


Jamaican Gold

Where: El Rey Theatre, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.

When: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays

Price: $10 to $20

Info: (323) 980-3444 or

Steve Baltin can be reached at