Without the prior knowledge of where the venue is located, or a working GPS, one could easily walk right past the tiny, sunken dive that is The Central Social Aid and Pleasure Club. When conjuring ideas of what a social aid pleasure club might be, the imagery of a S&M strip club is pronounced. However, their origin is from 1800s rendezvous for New Orleans organizations geared toward helping the community, always involving music. Although few and far in between in the modern age, pleasure clubs still bring people together with good music and non-profit organization events.
While tight and cozy, like any good dive bar, Central provides a warm ambiance with its elevated resident DJ booth, working fireplace, and retro video of random artist interviews and performances straight from the ‘80s. The bar is stocked with all of the essentials, as eclectic variety of good beer, top shelf scotch and whiskey, and a few wines. Indie rock with heavy electronics is played at a level of volume that allows for conversation while still being loud enough to dance to, if you can find the room to do so.
In the back room, about the same size as the bar, a few stools and table line the walls leading up to an elevated stage surrounded by gigantic speakers. Immediately noticeable here is the lighting, which consists of swirling green laser lights in addition to the thousands of green and red lighted dots that engulf the room like an observatory. The stage is dimly lit by several lights in front and behind it with a red and white stripped backdrop giving it an overall surreal feel to the intimate venue.
It between the difficulties incurred while setting up their equipment properly to sound system, members of Deluka would run back and forth to the bar for interval shots of whiskey. Seemingly rushed to begin their performance, having been set back half an hour by technical issues, Deluka gets off to a slow start with much feedback pumping through the speakers. Their perseverance pays off when they get into the full swing of things and Ellie, the singer and guitarist, really shines with her original vocals and lyrics. Their driving guitar riffs and catchy distorted harmonies that are the backbone here really speak for themselves. The whole performance gives the impression of an other-worldly, pseudo-psychedelic, high energy rock band that aims to melt the faces of their fans. This indie band with electronic influences sports something not seen in often in upcoming bands: creativity.
As the stage lights flash on and off, presumably puzzling the band but awing the audience, Deluka jumps and jives around the stage with the little room they have to create a captivating stage presence. As they play their last song, bringing the show to an abrupt stop, the indifferent crowd trickles outside into the randomly appearing Santa Monica fog. Deluka begins loading up their gear in preparation for the long drive to San Francisco the following day. When confronting the band about their performance, they remark with a heavy English accent, “We we’re surprised to have done so well tonight!”