Published on September 11th, 2013 | by Greggory Moore0
The Return of the Good Foot Brings the Soul Back to Long Beach
It was a Long Beach fixture for well over a decade, with a lifespan stretching from Bill Clinton’s presidency to that of Barack Obama. The Old Faithful of soul clubs, the Good Foot was the undisputed king of the funky hill, for 13 years providing the perfect monthly opportunity for South Bayers and Long Beachers to get their groove on.
That winning streak came to an end by design in 2011, when Good Foot co-founder Dennis Owens decided to close up shop on the monthly mainstay.
But apparently you can’t keep a good club down, as the Good Foot will step up for another spin as a monthly haven for your happy feet, beginning this Friday.
But first, a history lesson.
In July of 1998, their band of three years having just broken up, Rodi Delgadillo took Owens up to Santa Monica and into a club called Science to experience the spell being woven by DJs Raymond Roker and Dj JuN.
“First of all, the music was overwhelming,” Owens raptly recalls, “and everyone in that venue was moving. Even if they were just casually waiting in line for a drink, everyone was vibing. I’d never really experienced anything like that, because I didn’t really go to raves. The farther in you went, the more people were just vibing to the music. By the time you got to the dance floor, people had just lost themselves in the music. It didn’t matter what you did, how you did it; it was a complete cross-section of people, of all cultures, male and female, just going off. And I tell you, that night is what made me kind of not want to be in a rock band for a long time, because this was a whole new thing. With that in mind, I started thinking about wanting to be a DJ.”
This was the moment of the Good Foot’s conception—although Owens didn’t know it yet. He was thinking smaller, simply wanting to take his extensive vinyl collection and do a DJ set somewhere. But Delgadillo had bolder ideas. Why not, he asked Owens, start their own club?
By way of that seemingly naïve notion, the pair quickly found themselves referred to the club Que Sera. And in September of that year, a mere three months since that night in Santa Monica, the Good Foot premiered.
“I think maybe I’d been behind a pair of turntables once,” Owens admits with a laugh. “For the most part, it was trial by fire.”
But even in those earliest days the Good Foot was reasonably successful, partly because of the pair’s vision.
“We wanted to spin soul, and there wasn’t really a scene for that,” Owens says. “[And] we just wanted to create a safe haven, you know what I mean? A place where you got no attitude from the time you walk in, from the doorman to the bartenders.”
No doubt that Owens and Delgadillo’s raw energy and DIY ethos contributed to the Good Foot’s rise.
“Rodi and I went crazy with the fliers,” Owens says. “We fliered hip-hop shows, raves, mod clubs, soul clubs. We’d go to Cal State Long Beach at lunchtime and pass out fliers. That’s just how we did things, because that was an extension of what we did when we were in bands. […] We had a pretty good turnout for the first [Good Foot]. The next month was a little bit better. Then there were a couple of down months. Then all of a sudden more and more people started showing up. By the one-year anniversary, it was a madhouse.”
For the first seven years the duo maintained their marketing formula until the Good Foot “kind of ran itself.” But it was around that time, in March 2005, that Delgadillo chose to move on—all the way to Japan. Owens, though, stayed put, despite numerous opportunities to do otherwise.
“I’ve always had a big sense of civic pride,” he says. “When Good Foot started doing really well, I had offers to move it to L.A., but I wouldn’t do it, because this club is for Long Beach. This is my town, these are my people. This is going to sound arrogant, but it’s bigger than me.”
But the Good Foot wasn’t the only big thing in which Owens was involved. For starters, since 2004 he’s been playing bass in Free Moral Agents, the fabulously grooving, echoic, trip-hop combo that in recent years has become an internationally-touring act, a commitment that caused him to miss an increasing number of the Good Foots (Good Feet, whatever).
“My heart was telling me more and more that I had to end it at some point,”Owens reflected early 2011. “And I want[ed] to go out on a good note, while my enthusiasm [was] still high. So, not long before the 12-year anniversary is when I really told myself, ‘Let’s end it on the 13-year anniversary.’”
Which is exactly what happened, the Good Foot going out in a blaze of glory on September 9, 2011. And although the club enjoyed brief, one-off revivals—such as the Christmas Night events that have been a tradition at Alex’s Bar for the last nine years—that, it seemed, was that.
But in July 2012 Delgadillo returned from Japan and was interested in rekindling the Good Foot fire—an idea that took a little while to spark with Owens.
“Rodi had been wanting to start it back up for a while, but I’ve kind of been reluctant to do so,” Owens says. “He left halfway through its tenure at Que Sera, but I did it for another six-and-a-half years after that, and I was kind of wanting to take a break. But he was persistent, and finally I relented. His enthusiasm convinced me to want to do it again.”
Not to mention that Owens never stopped hearing from the community how much they missed the Good Foot—a sentiment Owens didn’t share initially.
“For the first year [post-Good Foot] I was pretty good,” he chuckles. “I had done it for 13 years, and I was pretty satisfied with what I’d done. But I was still doing special events, and they always reminded me of how much fun I had doing the Good Foot. And the more events that I did, the more the seed was planted in my head that there was the possibility [bringing back the Good Foot as a monthly event] was something I wanted to do again.”
However, the Good Foot is experiencing a change of venue—sort of—as Alex’s Bar will now be its regular home.
“We decided we wanted to try a new place, get a change of scenery,” Owens says. “We’ve been friends with [owner] Alex Hernandez for over 20 years. And since all the special events I’d done there had done really well […] that seemed like the most natural spot to start it up again. […] So Rodi called up Alex and set up a meeting for the next day, and Alex asked us when we wanted to start.”
“Oh, it was a no-brainer,” Hernandez says of his choice to provide a home for the reincarnated Good Foot. “I’m pretty stoked to be hosting it. I’ve been friends with Dennis and Rodi probably since I was 18, and I’ve been a fan of them for almost that long.”
On Friday Good Foot fans can expect to rediscover all the things they knew and loved about the club, including the low cover charge: $5, just as it always was (at least before 10 p.m., after which it’s $7).
However, a future wrinkle will be the occasional inclusion of live bands, a development that Hernandez regards as “pretty amazing.”
“Alex’s is a place that’s well equipped to accommodate live bands,” Owens says. “And there’s a great music scene here. So we’re going to take advantage of that.”
You and your dancing shoes can start taking advantage of the Good Foot’s return this Friday at Alex’s Bar (2913 E. Anaheim St., LB 90804), where the Good Foot will take place on the second Friday of each month through November, then on each third Friday thereafter. Doors open at 9 p.m. Get down with your bad self!