gotta get on the good foot

July 7, 2011

How Dennis Owens and Club Good Foot got the masses on the dance floor

originally published in July issue of City Beat Long Beach, available online here.

“All good things must come to an end,” Dennis Owens says of why his long-running dance club Good Foot will be ending after 13 years this September. “It’s time.”

The funk and soul club—which can still be found every first Friday at Que Sera—has been a Long Beach institution since Owens and best friend Rodi DelGadillo dropped their rock roots in order to start DJing. Since then, Good Foot has been sharing danceable deep cuts and funky hits alike with endlessly diverse crowds every month in a setting that only our city could provide.

Owens and DelGadillo grew up on these streets, going to late-’80s punk shows at Fenders Ballroom and watching early ska acts on stage at Grand Central Station before playing in a series of local bands together. After their last band, power-poppy Action League, split up in 1998, the duo decided that they were burned out on rock music and turned their interests towards the music being spun at area clubs they were attending (such as La Conga at the Foothill and Garden Grove’s Golden State Soul Society).

At the time, Owens had been collecting records for more than a decade, but his interest in vinyl only increased as he became introduced to a new swath of lost funk, soul and Latin rhythms. The biggest influence on Owens’ shift from performing in bands to DJing, however, was Science, a drum-n-bass club in Santa Monica. There, he watched people lose themselves on the dance floor, flailing about as if possessed by the music.

“It set the standard of what I wanted to do with Good Foot,” he says. “They didn’t care how they looked—they were totally into it. That’s what music should do.“

With an ear for funky riffs and a passion for keeping feet moving, the transformation from Dennis Owens to DJ Dennis Owens didn’t take long. And soon, this former ska-band singer and part-time substitute elementary school teacher was the most wanted DJ in Long Beach.

But 13 years later, a lot has changed. Owens has returned to rock music as the bassist for now-touring local band Free Moral Agents. DelGadillo lives in Japan, where he DJs an Osaka soul club. Many of the first generation attendees—who were in their early 20s when Good Foot started—are now settled down with families. And where there was once a void of clubs of its kind, there are nights that cater to similar crowds such as Secret Affair at Alex’s Bar.

And so after one last summer, Good Foot will be retiring on a high note, but it’s spirit won’t be gone forever. A Very Good Foot Christmas will still happen as it has every December 25 (“It’s a family reunion”) and DJ Dennis Owens will sporadically live on at L.A.’s Space is the Place, the 10-year-strong roller disco he also co-founded.

Even after the last song plays on the club’s final night—which happens to also be Owens’ 39th birthday—Good Foot will be remembered as the gathering place for the bravest dancers who aren’t afraid to get swept away by the music and let loose on the Que Sera floor.

“All I’m doing is something I believe in and it’s amazing to me that people relate to it on that level,” Owens says. “It’s an honor to me. I’m humbled by that.”

Club Good Foot at Que Sera, 1925 7th St, http://www.goodfoot.org. Every second Friday. 9PM. 21+.

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