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Backyard Parties | 1970s: Temporary Discothèque

'70s Origins: John Guzman of Face 2 Face

This is part of a series on backyard parties. Read More:
A Brief History of DJ Culture in Southern California
1980s: East L.A.'s DJ Culture
1990s: Party out of Bounds
2000s: Post-Backyard

Text by Gerard Meraz

The early pioneers of Eastside DJ culture were a new breed of aficionados that innovated a paradigm for dance-based entertainment. They utilized hand-drawn and linotype-made flyers that promoted their DJ names and events to an audience that would make them minor celebrities for providing nightclub environments in backyards, halls and restaurants.

DJs like Face to Face, Ultimate Crave, Disco Express, Brittania and many others would compete to have the biggest sound and light shows at the biggest parties. They mixed professional, club quality audio equipment and lights, as well as home-constructed speakers and light controllers.

Around the DJs a network of promoters with names like Cowboy Productions and Valentino Productions helped form a network that provided a fashion, money, fans and dancers for the burgeoning scene. Some of these promoter crews supported their own DJ exclusively, and others supported or hired DJs that would spin at promoter-organized parties. This first generation of Eastside DJs began the process of innovating the mixing of records on turntables, and presented the idea of where DJ based entertainment could and would become.

'70s Mix: John Guzman of Face to Face was one of the first generation of DJs in the Eastside of Los Angeles that helped form what would become one of the biggest regional subcultures in Southern California history. Eastside DJ culture had its own fashions, music styles and attitudes that were organic to the area and developed from the milieu of growing up bilingual, in an place where a minority was the majority.

Additional Videos

'70s Party Revisited
Mecca of Vinyl
The Third World
 

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'70s Flyers

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'70s Scene Gallery

Original founding member Rees Escalante provides a virtual walkthrough of the earlier types of setups and technology that Ultimate Crave offered.

An Ultimate Crave backyard party with a small light show.
An Ultimate Crave backyard party with a small light show. Now this is a party!
For me lighting had been a large part of what I like to do for the party scene.
Lighting had been a large part of what I liked to do for the party scene.
One of the many lighting cases which contained oscillators, small beacons, rainlights, and strobes.
One of the lighting cases containing oscillators, small beacons, rainlights and strobes.
A picture of our 1392 Board.
This is a picture of our 1392 Board. This was made from 1392 bulbs and ran off a Light-lab 4040 controller, the light strips were our first arms to our starburst.
1979: Studio Disco was born!
1979: 'Studio Disco' was born!- DJ Lighting was homemade then! Jessie, Paul, and Danny are in this photo.
A rare photo of “The Van.”
A rare photo of 'The Van'. This was the Studio Disco van with frame on top and trailer in tow.
Party on! …more lights, cases, light booth and crew.
Party on! ...more lights, cases, light booth and crew.
This is an photograph of the Small “Rack.”
The Small 'rack' in a coffin both with Crown PSA2's and Yamaha P2200's amps.
The light booth
The light booth was a two-man station for working all switches, light-lab 4040's and Diversitronics 4 channel controller.
A typical house party setup
A typical house party setup. This picture shows the coffin on the rack of amps. The white case was a spotlight case that held 4 units. The black speaker was a Yamaha copy that had a 15 inch and horn. It was one of two that had horns while the other 16 units were only 15's for mids.
Joe 'Light Man' Cisneros working the booth.
Joe 'Light Man' Cisneros working the booth. Joe is still working lights for Ultimate Crave for over 30 years now.
Rack with amp, mixers, EQ
The rack in this photo features a P2200 amp, preamp, Shure mic mixers, MXR, EV crossover, DBX Expander/boombox, OSC amp and AB King Kong amps.
This first coffin booth was our design.
This first coffin booth was 'our' design before anyone thought of it. If only we copyrighted this! The rack was a 7ft aluminum that held our P2200, and three AB King-Kong amps.
Updated rack with EQ, crossover, DBX, QSC
Racks were always being updated the possible way. Here the small rack became an Eq, crossover rack MXR, DBX, QSC.
One of three cable cases.
This is one of three cable cases we owned. We always had many cases and at one time had as many as 150. We now have about 120 or more cases. I am unsure of the total since they are everywhere at the moment.
Party People! Having a good time with Ultimate Crave's lighting & sound system at a great house party!!!
Party People! Having a good time with Ultimate Crave's lighting & sound system at a great house party!!!

 Gerard Meraz is the author of An Oral History of DJ Culture From East Los Angeles.

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