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    Sunday, March 2, 2008

    ANA CALDERON my banana my best friend

    Meet the scenester: Ana Dim Mak

    How she went from being a Kansas kid to the brightest jewel in Steve Aoki’s crown

    By Alexandra Le Tellier, Metromix
    February 20, 2008

    (Credit: cobrasnake)
    Ana Calderon might seem like any party girl. Draped in vintage, she travels in a posse of greasy hipsters and waif-like models and never gets home before 2 a.m. But she’s also enterprising. The former Kansas kid hasn't just stormed into L.A.'s after-dark world—first as a scenester and now as a DJ—she's become one of city's most prolific tastemakers as the director of marketing for the Dim Mak record label. Hence the moniker: Ana Dim Mak.

    How would you describe your DJ style?
    Essentially, I start out the sets with all the songs that get stuck in my head when I'm not DJ-ing. Then one song reminds me of another song because it's, say, the guitar player's solo act; then the next song is by that guitar player's favorite band and it's about lemonade; then the next song has the word "yellow" in it because yellow reminds me of lemons. It's kind of like an OCD version of a musical six degrees of separation.

    How did you get invited as a resident DJ at Pash, arguably the hottest club night in town?
    Pash is the brainchild of Myles Hendrik and David Heath. I was the night's number-one fan during the first incarnation [at Vine Bar]. I was there every week with all my friends, dancing to all the best songs. When Myles and David told me they were starting Pash back up at the Room and wanted me to DJ, I jumped at it. Pash is awesome. It's a melting pot for all of L.A.'s finest artists, musicians and fashion peeps, and every week I make a great new friend or two—like the kind of friend you'd want to have over for a barbecue.

    You also just started Wednesdays at 86.
    Wednesdays at 86 is my new favorite night in L.A. It's like we gave birth to a Jolie-Pitt baby: so pretty and so cool. We're just trying to figure out what to name the new baby. We want to get to know it first, get a feel for its personality before we give it a name. It's definitely a girl, though.

    Who are your partners in crime on the night?
    The other hostesses are C.C. Sheffield and Melissa Renee Hernandez. C.C.’s the lead singer in the band Le Rev and is also an actress and model—just about the prettiest go-getter you'll ever meet. Melissa is also a model/actress, but she’s best known for being the driving force behind Check-One-Two at the Viper Room. She also has the best closet of gorgeous vintage dresses. Our good friend/party mascot/opening DJ and member of the band Living Things, “Mic…Beck.” He's got a sweet collection of old 45s. [Editor's note: Yeah, that’s actually his name.]

    What makes this party different from the others?
    The DJs are given free reign: rock ’n’ roll, prog, soul, garage, folk, French pop, psychedelic, glam, country, indie rock, avant-garde, and Hall and Oates are all welcome. It's also a respite for our like-minded L.A. peeps who are looking to find a spot in Hollywood where they can chill with their friends and also make new ones; where they can come early for dinner and listen to a French accordion band; and where they don't feel too forced to dance because it's too loud to talk or there's nowhere to sit. The most genius part is that it’s in a basement where there's really poor cell phone service—like zero bars. People can't type away on their BlackBerry instead of talking to you because you know they don't have service either.

    How did you end up in L.A. from Kansas?
    During a horrible heat wave in 2002, I had an epiphany and grabbed the newspaper. I vowed to move to whatever metropolitan city had the coolest temperature that day. L.A. just happened to be a cool 72 degrees. Two weeks later I bought an old Chrysler Fifth Avenue; packed the car with my vinyl record collection, my books, my old bass guitar and amp, my computer, and some clothes; and drove halfway across the country and planted myself in Koreatown.

    Did you have plan?
    All I knew was that I wanted to work in music or entertainment. I got a job at a small indie label in the Valley. The music they put out wasn't really my thing, but it was great experience.

    How'd you hook up with Steve Aoki and the Dim Mak crew?
    I started going out to clubs and bars in Silverlake, Echo Park and Hollywood and was making great friends like Steve Aoki. We became instant buddies, and when he realized he was ready to grow the record label, he asked me to come on board.

    That must have changed things!
    We were putting out awesome records, throwing the weekly Tuesday nights at Cinespace as well as really crazy parties in Downtown warehouses and houses in the Hills. We added another weekly night at LAX and replaced the crazy house parties with huge festivals like Neighborhood Fest and HARD, as well as events around the country. I also started helping throw events with some pretty sweet magazines like Nylon, Paper, Tokion and BPM, and brands like Adidas, Diesel, Puma, WeSc and Krew.

    You must see some scandalous stuff.
    I've seen people dance so much they passed out from dehydration. I've seen skinny indie rock boys hook up with Playboy Playmates. I've seen the most amazing popular bands do impromptu sets at tiny dive bars. I've seen certain well-known celebrities have to wait in line while club regulars get priority. Nightlife brings out all the wonderful wackies.

    Who do you look up to in the scene?
    I love people like Eastside diva Scarlett Casanova, who makes sure all of her events have that special extra "oomph." Not to sound sexist or anything, but I think it's totally a girl thing: the special attention to detail, ambiance and the pretty things. She will turn her monthly club night, Hang the DJs, into a multi-level carnival-type experience. She'll add extra flavors like a VIP room where there are party snacks and flower petals, or have a special-made photo booth and give out free makeovers. All things you could never see some mailing-list Hollywood promoter do.

    What do you think about people looking up to you?
    I have no idea if I'm changing the scene. I just know I'm having a lot of fun right now, and I hope that my happiness is at least a little contagious!

    Alexandra Le Tellier is Bars & Clubs editor for Metromix Los Angeles.

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