It’s been one year since The Lincoln Speakeasy first opened its doors in the West Los Angeles area. Despite being a relative newcomer compared to the other nightclubs in Los Angeles, it didn’t take long for it to make quite the impact in the LA nightlife scene. In such a short period, the club has made a name for itself thanks to its exceptional service, exclusive access, and, most especially, showcasing some of LA’s finest local and international underground artists, musicians, and DJs. Names such as Matthew Dekay, Francesca Lombardo, Hoj, Powel, Marques Wyatt, Lars Behrenroth, Lonely Boy and MightyKat have performed in the club and treated guests to some unforgettable party nights.
Despite being relatively young, the Lincoln Speakeasy, or TLS for short, was built on years of experience and tradition set in place by its owner, Jamesen Re. In fact, Jamesen himself has made history in his home country of Australia for having started what would become the longest running club night in Australia dance history. That party was Sunny Side Up, a brand and party series he began 20 years ago. Fast forward to today and comparisons are being made now between Sunny Side Up and the TLS here in Los Angeles.
While there are plans now underway to bring TLS to other locations in the U.S. and beyond, for now all energies are focused on the preparations for TLS’ 1 year anniversary party happening on Friday, March 24th. We recently caught up with TLS founder Jamesen Re to provide more details on the event, the first year of TLS, as well as his 20-year history of throwing parties down under and beyond.
Hello Jamesen, congratulations on your 1 year anniversary with the Lincoln Speakeasy!
Thank you! Much appreciated!
What were some of your favorite nights of the past year?
Geez. There’s been a lot of great nights. We’ve had so many exceptional artists come through our doors over the past 12 month. Among the many, our opening night was a special one for obvious reasons. A lot of time, effort and vision went into making sure the venue looked and felt spot on. From the time we got the green light it was non stop for about 6 weeks as we wanted to start the year off early so to build up towards the summer.
The opening really set the tone for things to come. I was fortunate enough to work with Marques Wyatt for the first time who dropped in one night. Marques had a party at the Townhouse and swung by with Oona Dahl and SAAND. The vibes were already rocking and to have these guys that I admire, especially Marques pop in unannounced the rock the party until 4am was special. It kinda confirmed our aim of providing our members and guests an experience where they could enjoy an up close personal experience with world’s best DJ’s. HOJ Halloween with the Peace In Noise crew was another special one. NYE with Francesca Lombardo as a surprise guest with Ricoshei, Lonely Boy and Jimmy Maheras was killer too. Matthew Dekay’s six hour set was simply amazing. Matthew has been one of my favorites for a number of years, so to have him come out and play a six hour set from start to finish was a huge highlight. Powel and Mightykat were great ones too.
How do you feel the venue has progressed in this first year of operation?
It’s been progressing really well. Along with my partner & co founder Stacy Quackenbush we’ve worked non stop to keep things fresh and exciting. Having 20 years experience in the dance music / events industry both locally and internationally I always felt there was a market for us discerning music lovers to have a place where we could listen to our favorite DJ’s, without feeling like a sardine in a dirty warehouse or club. Your musical tastes become more refined. You go as much for the music as you do for for the party. Your level of appreciation for quality becomes important. Having worked in some of Hollywood’s biggest vip clubs and bars, I was always amazed by the high level of service and attention to detail, yet the number one element that was always overlooked was the music, sound and making people feel welcome. We pride ourselves in hosting our guests. Nobody does that. It is our intention to find a balance between providing quality service, cocktails and fine dine with the best music. With each event we continue to create a more elevated experience for other like minded people that have been there done that, yet still love to go out to have a dance without all the excess attitude.
What is the plan for the next year at the Lincoln Speakeasy?
The short term plan is to continue to establishing ourselves as the Westside’s premier late night music venue, with quality service and premium international talent. As a DJ/producer in my spare time I keep my ears and eyes out for the next big producer that’s making waves across Europe and other parts of the world. This past fall my partner and I traveled to Europe to make connections with talent that inspires us. Its about making that connection. It’s a personal thing for me when curating a night. If I here a track that blows me away I always get excited on the prospect of showcasing that artist to our members and guests.
There are a lot of parties happening in Los Angeles on any given weekend. What makes the Lincoln Speakeasy stand out?
We are a fully licensed and permitted late night venue as opposed to just a party or event. Our venue closes typically at 4am, sometimes as late as 6am. We don’t open just for the sake of being open, we only open our doors for a killer night. It builds anticipation for the quality behind what we do., which is why we’re typically sold out almost every time.
Over the last 6 months we’re developed a reputation whereby we’re able to have the big names in a small intimate space. You’d be surprised just how many big artists are happier playing in a small room to their closet friends. They have an opportunity to play tracks they don’t usually get a chance to play out in the bigger venues, without all the nonsense. Our sound is more on the deeper tip. 110 – 120bpm all night. We’re more about creating a mood rather than having a bunch of peeps fist pumping. Our strict NO cell policy in the main room also makes us a stand out. When I was working in Hollywood nightlife, everyone was pretending to have fun because people were consumed with their cell phones. I also dislike seeing high profile clients or DJ’s bothered with being photographed or video’d the whole time they are in the venue. The aim is to keep everyone engaged with one another and the music. The amount of self absorption that goes on makes me cringe. Every moment now is a Facebook or Instagram post or upload. We’re on our phones enough. We don’t have to have them on the dance floor or in the club. The Lincoln Speakeasy is designed to escape all that just for one night.
Additionally, having a partnership with an adjacent hotel, we make it very easy for guests to travel from all over and have a place to rest at the end of a late night. We create package deals that include overnight stays and venue entry. People are really digging that.
You’ve been doing parties in Australia and Los Angeles for 20 years now. Can you take us back to 1997 and to the first parties you were doing?
Geez. Wow. That’s a long time. Where do i begin. I have to go back to 1996 to be exact. I backpacked across Europe for year and discovered dance music culture in the London underground and other parts of Europe. That experience changed my life. The mid 90’s was a special time in dance music history. You know, you’re talking about the likes of Sasha and John Digweed, Danny Tenaglia, Way Out West, Terry Lee Brown Jr and Timewriter and so forth. These guys were at the for front of the whole progressive, deep, tech, tribal house movement. This was my first introduction to underground dance music. When I returned back to Melbourne, Australia it was quite clear after visiting the “best Club” at the time, that we were really behind in many ways. There were a small band of actual DJ’s. All Vinyl DJ’s. The real deals. Melbourne clubs weren’t willing to take a chance on a new sound or name. There was a lot of banging music, no creativity or motivation to step outside the box. I knew what I wanted, what is sounded like and how it felt. And I did everything to make it happen. My first creation was a little party called “Sunny Side Up”. I harnessed the energy and creativity I had experience on my travels and banded together with a few friends to create the most influential and longest running club night in Australian history now in its 20th year. I was 25 years old at the time. I still get a lot of messages from old stool Sunnysiders telling me how much the place meant to them. It inspires me and is another driving force behind what I’ve accomplished thus far.
What were the vibes and how are those years influencing what you do now?
Those years influence everything I do. The SSU vibes are etched in my heart and mind. SSU became an institution. I literally saw people being transformed by music and positive environment we created. I saw their expectations of a party being elevated. We’re talking ’97. No social media or internet marketing. No BS. Just a flyer, invitation, word of mouth and groundbreaking music. There’s was nothing fake, pretentious or obvious about it. I learned an incredible amount from that experience both professionally and personally. All of my brands, Private Resident, Liquid Frequencies, Soulnova and the Lincoln Speakeasy venue are all built upon the SSU tradition. Quality over quantity is supreme and compromising that is a move driven by ego and greed. There’s that fine line that I’m very mindful of. “The point of no return”. That jeopardizes the experience for the guests, the quality of the music, and the longevity of the brand. I am not about compromises, just providing the best overall music experience.
How has the Oakland tragedy affected business at the TLS?
What a nightmare. So tragic and sad. Yeah after that incident the crackdown on illegal venues and parties was immediate. We started to get a lot of inquires from promoter/producers needing a fully permitted venus. I did the illegal thing for many years, but there’s only so far you can go with that. As you become more experienced and have the responsibilities of running a business, you realize that it’s not worth the risk, headache or jeopardizing anyone’s life for the sake of a party. Providing a safe, hassle free and sophisticated environment is paramount to everything I do under my umbrella company “Deep Downunder Productions”. Oakland was a real wake up call for everyone. I hope it puts things into perspective for people doing illegal parties that as the party promoter, it is your duty and responsibility to make sure your patrons are safe. Punters also have to be aware of what they’re getting themselves into when attending illegal underground parties.
Do you have any expansion plans you would like to talk about?
Right now we’re in discussions with investors, some of which are our members, about expanding the Lincoln Speakeasy to other cities. We’re looking at New York, Miami, Chicago and even Australia which would be really nice. It’s very exciting that people have expressed an interest and are willing to invest in and help support our vision.
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