Saturday Nights At Giorgio's
photographs by Tyler Curtis
Hidden away behind the kitchen of The Standard Hollywood, in a space officially called Mhmmm, event producer Bryan Rabin and DJ Adam Bravin, aka DJ Adam 12, have created Giorgio’s, a Saturday night discotheque named for legendary music producer Giorgio Moroder. Capturing the mood of pre bottle service, see and be seen club life, Bryan and Adam adhere to a strict set of rules, in the way they curate both the door and the DJ booth, creating a personal tribute to the cultural values they hold dear. Because, as we say at the Culture Crush, music and passion are always in fashion.
Debra: It’s important to us to not only talk about culture, but also to give back to culture. I definitely feel that nightlife is a big part of that. To me, it’s such a key part of the whole story.
Bryan: That’s always been where I come from. I felt like people were always coming here to Los Angeles from international cities and wanted to have a piece of L.A., so I would always reframe it and say, “Instead of coming here to take from our city, why don’t you come here and join our city and become part of our community.”
I always start with, “How do you create a community?” Nightlife is one of the greatest instigators. With Giorgio’s, what we’ve created is a place where generations of tribes can come and find each other. Marriages have come out of Giorgio’s, both in love and business. When you put people in a room who are truly there to express themselves, whether they are from film, fashion, art, music, uptown to downtown, when you put them into that room, that magic happens. We’ve created a safe environment where artists, people who are famous, people who are infamous, kids that are just coming off of the street, everyone; it becomes a democracy and that is where great ideas and great things start boiling and that is the jumping-off point to me.
Debra: Why don’t you give a little background about where you were coming from so that we can put this story of how Giorgio’s was born into context.
Bryan: I hadn’t done a nightclub in 13 years. I had been working with international fashion brands – Martin Margiela, Hermes, Armani, Christian Dior – and there was something always in the back of my mind. I had stopped going out because I was working so much, so I missed the whole evolution of the bottle service and all of that. I was thinking about going out, and just dancing, and being able to express yourself through dress and through all of those wonderful things that happen in the night. It was always just sort of itching in the back of my mind and I was like, “Oh, I’m too old, all of my friends are too old. It’s not going to happen. L.A. is a different place. It doesn’t make sense.”
All of these “no’s.” Then André Balazs called me and said, “I would love for you to do a club with this great DJ, Adam 12.” I love Adam. He works with Stevie Wonder, and every legendary artist you can imagine. He worked with Prince for over 20 years. So I took the meeting and we were talking about what we should name it. I said, “Sunset people doing it right, night after night.” If we are going to have a disco club we have to call it Giorgio’s.” And he went, “Oh my god, Giorgio Moroder is one of my biggest inspirations since I was a little kid.” Well the funny thing is before I ever came to Los Angeles and I saw American Gigolo, I thought everyone lived in a high rise.
Debra: Right! You know that was my idea of L.A. also, from American Gigolo. One hundred percent. It was so sexy and seemed so decadent and exotic.
Bryan: Hysterical, right? So we started talking and I had produced Giorgio Moroder’s 70th surprise birthday party, so we both came to the agreement that Giorgio’s was the perfect name for it. It just made sense. It will pay homage to Giorgio. And that moment started bubbling. And then, the second time I went to look at the space, I was waiting for my car and there was Lauren Hutton standing on the steps of The Standard.
Debra: Straight out of American Gigolo! It was meant to be.
Bryan: It was meant to be! So, I of course called the Moroders to invite them. It took about three or four weeks to get Giorgio into the room and he said to me, “Bryan, do you know the band Daft Punk? They did a song about me and I produced the record.” And I said, “Wow, that’s amazing.” So we had opened the club about six weeks before that record dropped and when he was in the club we played, of course, “I Feel Love,” and the club erupted! He looked at me and I could see him getting teary-eyed and he said, “I never partied, I never took drugs, I worked in the ‘70’s, but I never saw people dancing to my music.” And it’s 30-something years later and he was so touched by it. So that’s how the club came together.
Debra: And it’s unusual in this day and age to have a club with a no-phone rule, it’s like a no-fly zone.
Bryan: We made that rule, no photography, no cell phones. We made it like an opening night party every week, because the club only holds 100 people. Everybody in the world started coming because people had forgotten the joy of dancing and the joy of just getting dressed to go out without being on your phone, it was like a revolutionary idea.
And Adam is such a genius musically, in terms of culture. He takes these old disco songs, which were made with huge orchestras, and with his artistic point of view, makes them sound brand new and fresher than they ever had sounded before. It’s in the order he plays them, and how he mixes them, and how he layers them. And the mix of generations is so fabulous. It’s this incredible cultural mix. And it is really really exciting. The air is crackling when you’re inside.
Debra: Talk about the space itself a little bit.
Bryan: The space itself is very simple; just black booths surrounded by mirror. We lower the lights so you just have shimmers of shadows and people dance in the mirrors. We created a space that feels timeless, and people become ageless. It is very underproduced, so what that does is it really creates the human experience and the collision of all of these different types of people. It just becomes about dance, and love, and laughter and about being sexy, and you can see everybody from wherever you are in the room by looking in the mirror.
Debra: So Adam, tell us about your evolution as a DJ?
Adam: I started DJing in Hollywood right out of high school. There weren’t a lot of guys who could handle doing multiple genres. There were either hip-hop guys, or house guys, or rock ‘n roll guys, or whatever. I started being introduced to all kinds of celebrity clients at a really young age and quickly worked my way up that ladder as a DJ and before I knew it, I was DJing for Prince and Dr. Dre and Puffy. I mean, you name it, I was DJing for them. I was doing kind of all different walks of life I guess you could say.
Bryan: You know what was amazing, Adam, the story of when you started at Glam Slam, (Prince’s club in ‘90’s Los Angeles). That story is really unbelievable.
Adam: I had always been a really big Prince fan. A friend of mine was Prince’s DJ at the time and I kept on bugging him. There were two rooms at Glam Slam, the main room and a little VIP room.
Debra: Around what year was this? What time are we talking about?
Adam: Probably ’94. My buddy was his DJ and over the course of about a year I was bugging him to let me do a set in the VIP room. In all honesty, he wasn’t the best DJ in the world and he didn’t want anybody jeopardizing his job. So I think he waited and waited and waited until he thought it was a night that Prince wouldn’t be there.
Finally, after close to a year, he said, “Why don’t you come tonight and DJ with me in the VIP room.” I had been prepared for a year. I knew what I was going to play. I had a little case of these rare funk 45’s. When I got there it was literally empty. There was maybe one person and a bartender. But, I was really excited because at least I could say that I had DJ’d there. So I started playing and it was late, probably like 3:30 a.m., and while I was spinning for the bartender, Prince walked in with his security guy and he hid behind these speakers and was kind of peering around the corner like, “Who is this guy?” I’ll never forget. He had a lollypop in his mouth and was trying to figure out what was going on. But almost immediately, he started dancing. He was dancing nonstop by himself for a good 30 or 40 minutes on the dance floor.
Bryan: Can you believe it? Isn’t that the most fabulous story you’ve ever heard in your life?
Debra: Yes, you win! Most fabulous story I’ve ever heard in my life!
Adam: Eventually, Prince pulled the security guy down to his level and whispered something in his ear and the guy came over and said to me, “He wants you to start in the big room this Friday.” So two days later I opened up as the main DJ at Glam Slam.
Adam: Currently I’ve been working for Obama as his DJ. I went from being a house party DJ in the San Fernando Valley to working for every basketball player, and R&B singer, every rapper, every musician.
Debra: So it sounds like people who really know music want you to be the DJ.
Adam: That’s what it is.
Debra: You keep saying, “Stevie Wonder asked me to be the DJ,” and I don’t even know how to process that in my mind!
Bryan: And coming from someone who watches and has been around DJs my whole life, there’s somebody proficient and you’ll dance, or there’s somebody who has magic. And Adam has magic. And that’s just the bottom line of it. It’s an incredible thing to watch him work and what we say is, “I bring them in and Adam knocks them down.” It’s just been a really incredible creative partnership.
There aren’t really too many great clubs anymore because everything is based on hideous bottle service. And we know cool people, whether you have money or not, it immediately ruins a room because it sets up a rotten situation of people who are not coming into a room because they want to dance, they are coming into a room because they want other people to see them spending money. I mean it really doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever. I run that door with an iron fist, and really make sure…and it’s not about celebrities. It’s about, “What are you going to bring into the room?” It’s not about fame. It’s about, “Are you going to dazzle us?” Music is what creates love and beauty in the world. And we’ve been able to keep people lit on it, literally we are running an underground club in the middle of Sunset Boulevard.
Debra: It’s so incredible. The space is amazing but, yeah, the context of that club physically also just makes it more unbelievable that you created this thing that is like a “no fly zone” right in the center of the worst nonsense.
Bryan: And also the wonderful thing about it is that there are people now who make a living by promoting themselves and they don’t really do anything, or they don’t feel like they exist unless they are documenting and curating a moment that they are actually not living because they are choosing to be taking a picture of themselves. We are a perfect place for that because we don’t allow that so they don’t come.
Debra: That is why there is a resurgence of zines and DIY culture and people want to get offline. It’s not about a new app or a new digital trick to hook people in that world. I think the next step is to get back into this world.
Bryan: That is what is exciting. We get to tell another story every single week.
Debra: Yeah, I love how you said that at the beginning, how every Saturday night is like the opening night party.
Adam: Yeah, I wanted to say Bryan understands it in the way that no other promoter understands it. He is like a painter in the way he curates that room. The same way that a painter would paint a picture, every weekend. It’s not just simply getting numbers through the door, or filling a room with celebrities, or models, or Instagram people, the things that all of the other promoters do, and I think the combination of a guy who has been doing what he does for so long and doing it successfully and a guy who has been around doing what I do, and I know what I am doing on the turntables, I think that both of those play an important part. We were around when parties were great, and parties aren’t great anymore. Take it from me.
Bryan: Now it’s all based on money and not based on creativity. And the thing that is really incredible is that The Standard, the way André Balazs set up the DNA of that brand and what André has always done is that what happens behind closed doors happens behind closed doors. They have been so supportive of us. Night clubs are about: Do you fit? Do you make sense? Are you excited to be here? Do you want to meet people? Do you want to have fun? All of those things. Not like, “I have so much money I can get what I want.” Now you’re going to use it as a weapon against other people? It doesn’t make any sense at all. The Standard is just so incredible about that.
Adam: You know, when things are based on bottle service, it is very easy for venues to just say, “Hey, we’re going to go with this other promoter because they bring in bottles,” and not once have they said anything about that to us. It says a lot about The Standard and it says a lot about the party itself.
Bryan: We don’t care who you are or how famous you are, if we’ve booked you a table we don’t care if you’re a girl from New Jersey, we would never ever throw somebody out of a table because a celebrity walked in. It’s just not what we do.
Debra: Well, also, that’s how you make relationships with people. The dickheads are going to go to some other club next week because they really don’t give a shit about where they are.
Bryan: One of the greatest nights that ever happened was when Mick Jagger showed up. The room was already packed with a list that just went on and on and I ran to the door when I got the 911 he had just turned up. I said, “Mr. Jagger, I’m sorry we don’t have a seat for you tonight.” And he said, “Darling, nobody comes to Giorgio’s to sit down.” And I was like, “Yes! That is amazing.” And that sums it up in one line, people come to dance and have that magical moment.
*listen to our conversation with Bryan recorded at Giorgio's in Hollywood