Funky Sole is a weekly funk and soul dance party that goes off like a bomb on Saturday nights at the Echo on LA’s eastside. Resident DJs Clifton aka Soft Touch and Music Man Miles, along with a rotating cast of guests, bring an eclectic but highly danceable exoticism to the club, making it completely different from your typical funk night.
While the rhythms and grooves feel familiar, the music at Funky Sole is unique, obscure, and generally unlike anything you’d hear at 90 percent of the nights you could list with the words “funk” and “soul” in their names. There is no “Brick House,” no generic K-tel oldies, and very few of the well-trod Northern Soul classics that have been played on continuous cycle by mod and ‘60s DJs for decades now.
Instead you’ll hear records you’ve likely never heard before: songs by Southern soul groups like the Kicking Mustangs and Four-Wheel Drive, or obscure Panamanian funk outfits like Los Dinamicos Exciters.
“The great thing about the crowd at Funky Soul is they’re here to dance,” explains DJ Clifton. “We can pretty much play what we want, we don’t have to stick to a certain set-list of hits to get the crowd dancing.”
“They wanna hear something different, even if it’s not something they even know about,” adds regular guest DJ Soul Marcosa. “Because I doubt that most of these people are very familiar with anything that’s being played. But they enjoy it just because it’s not Lady Gaga or some top 40 that they may enjoy on some other night. But when they want a break they come here.”
The crowd at Funky Sole is mixed, cool, disparate, and united by one thing: the need to get down. At the Echo on Saturday nights, the uber-cool rub elbows with the not so cool and just about everybody in between.
“It’s a very eclectic crowd,” says Clifton. “We get regular local people that come out, a lot of music heads, a lot of record collectors always come out. We’ve got the B-boys and B-girls; they have their whole side of the room where they have their circle and dance. You get ‘60s people, mods. It’s a good mix and for the most part everyone gets along. They’re just here for the music.”
The main room at the Echo is big enough without being too big, giving Funky Sole the kind of sweaty intimacy that tears down inhibitions and makes it easy to dance with, or talk to, just about anyone. In addition to the main room, where you’ll find the dance floor, the bar and the stage, there is also a rear outdoor smoking area where resident patio DJ, Chico mans the decks.
“The Echo has been the perfect venue for Funky Sole,” explains Clifton. “It feels like the two should have been together all along and it finally happened.”
Funky Sole has been going strong for 11 years now and Clifton has been an integral part of it for the last five. The club was founded by Music Man Miles, aka Miles Tackett from Breakestra, along with former Stones Throw artist Egon, and Cut Chemist, who was an original Funky Sole resident. The club got its start at Rudolpho’s in Silver Lake before moving to the now-defunct Star Shoes in Hollywood. When Star Shoes closed its doors, Funky Sole was briefly moved to Jimmy’s Lounge before moving to its present home at the Echo about four years ago.
Apart from the music, the remarkable thing about Funky Sole, is the eclecticism of the crowd, which seems to range from kids in their early 20’s to veteran hipsters in their mid 40’s.
In an LA scene populated by club-goers who often seek the comfort of the familiar, the uniqueness of Funky Sole’s musical format is as refreshing as the adventurism of the crowd, who ecstatically celebrate every overturned nugget of funk and soul obscurity as if it were a well-worn anthem they’d been dancing to for years.
“People will dance, as if their life depended on it, to a song they don’t know,” says Clifton. “After that song is over they’ll run up to the stage and ask what the song is. I’ve had people ask me to take pictures of the label because they wanna look for that song because it connected with them in some way during the night.”
People usually start trickling into Funky Sole at around 10:30 and by 10:45 they’re literally dancing through the door, bypassing the requisite trip to the bar, and heading straight to the dance floor. By 11pm the place is usually packed, so if you go, make sure you get there early enough to claim your spot on the dance floor!
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