DEEP is nothing short of a phenomenon driving the dance music scene in Los Angeles and beyond. For 18 years, DEEP has prided itself on procuring and presenting the ﬁnest soulful electronic music DJs and artists from around the world. DEEP forges on as an internationally esteemed sanctuary for house music lovers.
DEEP is much more than the sum of its parts. It is not just an inviting dance floor, soulful house records and big bass speakers. It’s not just a successful business venture, a prime destination for international DJs, or a place to grab a cranberry-vodka on a weekend night. It’s not even about the individuals who come to revitalize before another long week at work. No, the true essence of DEEP isn’t visible. It exists within the collective energy of its dedicated patrons, blessing the faithful and free who dance in celebration of life, which, if only once a month, is made of pure bliss.
For a decade, legions of music lovers have gathered to dance in freedom at LA’s longest-running weekly house music event. The scene here is unlike any other in the city: freestyle dancers break it down in their Adidas kicks and ball-caps, posh girls wearing stilettos sway to the beat, and bohemian revelers spin in carefree circles across the dance floor. In a city of velvet ropes and dress codes, DEEP is a welcome relief from surface-level judgment and the cat-and-mouse game of club-spawned booty calls. From the old to the young, gay, straight and otherwise, a sense of unity threads together this patchwork of individual expression through music. Yes, this is so much more than a night at a dance club. This is DEEP.
DEEP has witnessed some amazing moments of serendipity, including the one that started it all ten years ago. One nondescript night in West Hollywood, DEEP founder, Marques Wyatt (an accomplished house music DJ and producer in his own right) was hanging around the Viper Room, watching a friend’s band play. At the time, very few people knew he was looking for a new path after the end of his longstanding involvement with the after-hours event, Does Your Mama Know, but for a reason known only to the universe itself, Viper Room owner, Sal Jenco, approached Marques and asked him if he’d be interested in doing a night at the legendary rock venue. The year was 1998 and DEEP was born right then and there. At the time, the Viper Room’s walls had never heard house music, but the crowd built quickly, drawn to the energy of performances from house music legends like Frankie Knuckles, David Morales and Marques Wyatt’s musical mentor, Little Louie Vega. There was a collective understanding of Marques Wyatt’s unflinching dedication to quality music and an open, multi-cultural atmosphere emerged. In pairing a welcoming environment with a line-up of the best electronic DJs and live acts in the world, Marques created nothing short of a phenomenon.
The range of talent performing at DEEP is among the top in the world. Grammy winners David Morales, Frankie Knuckles and Louie Vega are all members of the DEEP family. A broad range of performers have graced DEEP, from the up-tempo soul majesty of Tony Humphries and Timmy Regisford to the tech house sounds of Dennis Ferrer to the pulsing rhythms of Ben Watt and Mark Farina. Incredible highlights from the past ten years include Dimitri from Paris, Derrick Carter, Harvey, Francois K, Kaskade, Joe Claussell, Jojo Flores, King Britt, Miguel Migs, Osunlade, Quentin Harris, the Martinez Brothers, Tortured Soul, Kerri Chandler and Peven Everett, to name just a few. And, those beautiful right-place-right-time moments weave through these musical memories of DEEP too, adding to the rich tapestry of serendipity that has emerged within the story of this historic movement. Just last year, one of the greatest moments in DEEP's musical history occurred when Prince emerged from the shadows and floated to the stage in his ethereal way to tinker with Kerri Chandler’s keyboard. It was absolutely unforgettable.
Through a decade of dedication, DEEP has developed from a small weekly Sunday labor of love into something of a Mecca for the house music pilgrim. When DEEP's crowd burst from the seams of the Viper Room about a year after its inception, it was strange coincidence that brought Marques Wyatt and his beautiful mission to 1650. As he tells it, “After a year in existence, the small shell of the Viper Room with a capacity of 250 could no longer hold the burgeoning life emerging. I received word on what was described as an ideal location and walked in the doors of 1650. The second I walked in, I saw my old friend Marc Smith [now of Edison fame] sitting on the stage. He grinned and said, ‘Marques, what took you so long? This is my venue. What night would you like?’ I said, ‘Tomorrow!’ And, that’s where DEEP lived every Sunday for the next five years.”
When DEEP needed another new home (with a larger capacity and longer operating hours), the newly refreshed and remodeled Vanguard space serendipitously popped into view as a prime choice almost four years ago. According to DEEP founder, Marques Wyatt, the management of the Vanguard approached him when they heard he was seeking a new venue, and it immediately felt like home. The Hollywood Vanguard’s stellar Funktion One sound system, spacious capacity, later hours of operation, wide dance floor and Buddhist-themed lounge patio perfectly fulfilled DEEP's needs, and the collective euphoria has nestled there ever since.
Now in its 14th year, Deep has become an integral part of the lives of many Angelenos. For example, DEEP fan and friend, filmmaker Scott Peake, courted his wife Gina during the very early stages of DEEP’s existence and both have followed the energy through its evolution, still attending to this day. As if it were meant to be, DEEP became a weekly ritual in their relationship. As Scott describes, “The minute I saw her, I knew she was the one. [When we go to DEEP], we get out on the dance floor and dance together, and it’s like no one’s around but just us.” Now approaching nine years together, seven years of marriage and two beautiful children, DEEP has a special resonance with this couple’s story of true love. “DEEP gave us our groove in our relationship,” Gina explains. “It was very special.” The couple even came to DEEP during Gina’s two pregnancies in order to give their sons the gift of rhythm within the womb. Now 3 ½ and 5 years old, both boys dance with the passion and soul of house music guiding their little feet.
So, yes, DEEP is a club night, but it's also so much more. It is a space for freedom and light. It’s a safe space for the cultivation of love in many forms. But not only is DEEP a special part of Los Angeles house music culture, it is also a globally respected brand regularly approached to collaborate on events locally and throughout the world. The DEPP Winter Music Conference events in Miami have thrived for eight successive years, and this year’s event will be its ninth. In addition to annual WMC events, Marques Wyatt regularly collaborates with promoters and clubs throughout the world to plant the seeds of Deep’s profound and invisible energy.
DEEP has also proven to be a high-profile stamp of approval a la Ministry of Sound in London for the resumes of DJs world-wide. Marques Wyatt, Rafael De La Cruz and their DEEP team have dedicated themselves to bringing forward a vision to create a global infrastructure for the dance community. This vision is channeled via continual touring, an upcoming set of DEEP mix podcasts and DEEP Cares, a non-profit branch of the DEEP organization focusing on benefiting charity and promoting service.
Because of its traditional home on Sunday nights and its soulful, welcoming, cleansing essence, DEEP has become a ritual for its most dedicated followers, many of whom refer to the weekly musical sanctuary as “church”. And it certainly has that spiritual quality. It is not a place to see and be seen, but to love and be loved. It is not a place for judgment, but acceptance. A place for freedom and the life force borne of the unseen collective energy that comes from deep within and blossoms in the presence of like minds freed by soul-release. This is DEEP.