I hopped on the bus headed out to Chinatown last Sunday, barely able to contain my excitement at the endless records that I was about to discover or the friends that I would see or the amazingly talented DJs that I would hear or the BBQ I would devour. I was headed to my favorite event that Los Angeles offers, the Beat Swap Meet, that a few DJs and hip-hop promoters I know organize every three months.
I hopped off the bus in Chinatown and decided to walk down Broadway, since I'd never been through LA's Chinatown. It reminded me of home (San Francisco) with all the smells, small statues of Buddha, countless fountains and people blocking the sidewalks to peer, ever so hesitatingly, into another culture.
Arriving at Grand Star Jazz Club, which is impossible to find unless you know where it is because it's hidden in the back of a plaza, I ran into a DJ and a promoter friend of mine that looked as if they just stepped out of a high end spa. They had grins from ear to ear, even if they looked a tad exhausted. Ahhh....I know the feeling.
I got to the door and pulled out my canned good donation (this allows you to get in free), the guy told me that ladies are free but, I told him I wanted to donate it anyway. What am I going to do with Chef Boyardee in my purse? I also gave him a few dollars, he looked confused and I explained that I really appreciated what they were doing. The canned goods go to LA Rescue Mission. This event perfectly balances my love of vinyl and humanitarian aid, anything I can give to help out, I will.
Once inside, I was overwhelmed as always with the countless records just waiting for me to look through them, so I decided to work my way toward the DJ booth where my friend DJ Michelle Q was spinning funk. Taking a deep breath, I dug into the soul crate (a box that holds vinyl records) and found rare edition Temptations, Diana Ross and the Supremes, and good ol' Stevie. Oh...what is this? A rare edition Run DMC 12" for only $13. Kid-N-Play's "2 Hype" for $1.99?!?
Overall, I spent $75 and walked away with 20 records. An average of $3.75 a record, including Public Enemy, Queen Latifah, a record of Sugarhill remixes of old school jams, Old Skool Funk and so many others.
If I hadn't been out the night before, I would've saddled up to the bar where they serve drinks to people that are of age for a very reasonable price. It averages $5 a well drink and $3 a beer.
Walking outside, I joined Michelle and a bboy (breakdancer) dancing in front of turntables spun by DJ AC the PD with an MC rapping over a Latin funky track. The smell of BBQ hung in the air mixing with the positive energy of the day reminded me of block parties when I was a kid.
So, if you love vinyl, listening to LA's most talented DJs, BBQ, block parties, breakdancing, hip-hop, local clothing companies and artists, and so much more, welcome to the pearly gates called Beat Swap Meet.
Beat Swap Meet (www.beatswapmeet.com or www.myspace.com/beatswapmeet) Grand Star Jazz Club every 3 months Sunday afternoons from 12p-6p Free with canned good donation ($5 to dig through the records before doors open 11a-12p), without donation, $5 Drinks for 21+ All ages welcome 20+ food/clothing/jewelry/DJ accessories vendors 20+ DJs 10+ MCs