Photo credit: Anastasia Velicescu
This August, I scrolled through the calendar on my iPhone to check out my birthday. I didn’t think too much of it. I was turning 21, but I didn’t really think I’d do anything special.
But then, I noticed my birthday, November 8th, was on a Tuesday night.
“Oh damn, I’m going to Space Yacht.”
The Tuesday night party in LA was making a hell of a name of itself. I wanted in.
I sent an email to the Space Yacht crew a few days before leaving for LA, asking if I could play at their November 8th event–my birthday. I’m not the usual famous artist that rolls through to play on Hollywood Blvd, but with a little bargaining and recommendations from a friend, I received an email back.
I opened it with anticipation.
“What’s the name you will perform as?”
I literally jumped around and started dancing. I was on the night.
About Space Yacht
Part pizza party, part club night, part music industry hangout spot, Space Yacht is an LA-based party crew, spearheaded by Henry Lu, Ollie Zhang, and producer London Bridge (Rami Perlman). What started out as a small, vibrant Tuesday night weekly has erupted into a massive cultural force. Although Space Yacht sticks to its intimate Tuesday night roots, the brand has grown to point where Space Yacht takeovers happen all across the United States, and large shows at revered venues across Southern California.
To me, Space Yacht has always had a sense of exclusivity to it. If you scroll through the photos taken there, you’ll recognize Instagram models and famous musicians. If you happen to know who they are, you can spot of some of the managers, publicists, and agents of the biggest acts in dance music.
In my mind, everybody who went to Space Yacht was someone important. A few of my friends said that it was all about networking. I had this vision in my head that going to Space Yacht would somehow kickstart a new chapter in my career. And maybe it did.
I showed up to the venue at 8:30 sharp, joined by my best friend Hunter, and recent URL-to-IRL friend Matt. Matt’s a well-known DJ and Space Yacht veteran. We had been chatting online for the last year or so, and finally got the chance to meet up down in LA. Matt was absolutely instrumental in getting me the chance to play. He told me everything I needed to know about Space Yacht at our dinner right before the club. Little did I know, Matt would come in even more clutch that night.
A sharp-dressed, slick-talking security agent met us the door, checking my ID, patting me down and searching my bag. I had literally turned 21 less than 24 hours before, and had my vertical, under 21 ID still. Emily, one of the photographers and event coordinators, greeted us.
We walked through the door and up a flight of stairs to get into the club. Entering the venue felt like stepping into a 1920’s speakeasy. There was wood everywhere, brilliantly warm with from glow of low tungsten lighting. Exposed rafter beams created spaciousness, but also a kind of intimacy that would be lost in a high-vaulted room. Speakers lined the walls in all directions, immersing you in the sound no matter where you were.
Matt motioned me to follow him.
I walked around a wall, up a few steps, and into the DJ booth. A pair of OG Pioneer CDJ-2000’s, one CDJ-2000 Nexus, and a DJM-900 Nexus lit up blue from the LEDs on the facade of the booth.
I thought to myself, “Oh shit, this is real.”
I was absolutely stressing about the set. I was opening for a bunch of house music legends. I struggled to put together an opening tech-house set, groovy enough to get people dancing, but lowkey enough to warm up the night. Even at dinner before, I turned down a few rounds of sake, knowing that I needed every advantage as possible to play a good set.
The opening set is so important. It’s harder to play a good opening set than a good headlining set. Anyone can drop the biggest bangers of the minute and make people go crazy, but to play progressively and build the energy of the night takes talent. I didn’t want to steal the spotlight or seem out of place. I also had only truly performed once since 2015, and had only played two sets on CDJ’s prior. This would be interesting.
I ended up making two USB drives of music, in case one failed. I plugged the first one in to a 2000. Nothing. The CDJ wouldn’t even recognize I plugged a drive in. Damn. I removed it, and plugged in the second USB. This USB loaded, but half of my tracks were missing. I was panicking.
I turned over to Matt, who was plugging in his own drive to the deck opposite from mine. Like a good DJ, he brought his USB everywhere. We were still a little early, and planned on going back-to-back with our homie Alex before the club opened. I looked at him frantically. “Dude, my USB’s gone. Can I use yours?”
To add to everything, I was now going to be DJing someone else’s music library.
The set started off. I relearned how to play as I went along. The beginning was rough, but soon shaped up until I was cruising through. Alex and Matt stayed in the booth, giving me pointers and bailing me out if I got into trouble. It was stressful at times, but I stuck with it and finished out my first set at Space Yacht.
Boom. 10PM. Set was over. I scurried out of the booth, slightly relieved that I was done performing. I did it. Now it was time to drink.
Matt rushed us over to the bar and lined me up with an AMF. It was his goal to get me absolutely plastered. I was handed this blue concoction that tasted like citrus and jet fuel. I was set.
I walked around in an unreleased Pariah collab tee, looking for good conversation. Any complements I received on my shirt or set was immediately directed into talking about the brand. It was well received: everyone I talked to seemed to be either an entrepreneur or a musician.
After a week of email chains, I officially met Henry. The Pizza Papi himself was taller than I expected, and was genuinely grateful I was there. He complemented my set, the brand, and asked how long I was in town. Unfortunately, I was flying out the next day.
Long-time homies, and dubstep duo phenom Tyy and Robert rolled through, joining our squad of Industry AF dudes. We were set for the night.
The room suddenly packed out. By 11:30, the venue was at capacity.
Around midnight, I broke off from my group and shuffled past the mob of people in the booth. I had a collection of Pariah tees and hats to giveaway stashed in my backpack.
People packed in the DJ booth and the hallway leading up to it that you could barely squeeze your way through it. Bedroom producers rubbed shoulders with legends like B-Sides and Sacha Robotti, casually chatting and drinking all the way.
Space Yacht’s interesting because, from what I can gather, there is no green room or backstage area to hide A-listers from the masses. It’s a true social club: a melting pot of people who share a love for music, partying. What I thought was an exclusive experience was actually the most inclusive of all.
I stood in the entryway to the booth, and struck up a conversation with the guy next to me. Turns out, it was yet another Space Yacht co-founder, Rami. We sat there and chatted for a minute, waiting on Henry to prepare the next step.
I had been watching Henry all night. He seemed to have this superpower of partying one moment, and being completely real with you the next. He would intermittently dance, then turn around to shake someone’s hand and dive into conversation. He fluidly worked his way around the room, meeting everyone and having a good time while at it.
Henry and I cut our way into the booth. “You ready to do this?”
I handed the bunch of clothing to Henry. Promptly, he hung an Industry AF Dad Hat halfway off his head, and hopped on the mic. “Yo, who wants some Pariah Reign gear?!” The crowd went wild. To be truthful, I don’t think many of them knew the brand, but that didn’t matter. We were all drunk, and there was cool free shit flying through the air. The energy level turned up four notches.
Hands reached up to the booth. Two or three photographers narrowed in on the experience, capturing every handoff. He held up each shirt like an auctioneering, showing each side of it before finding some crazed guest to give it to. To finish it all off, Henry took his sideways dad hat and blindly threw it into the crowd. Fucking lit.
After the giveaway, Henry and I stepped back from the booth. I explained that my friends wanted to show me around Hollywood. He nodded, understood, and thanked me for coming out. In all reality, it was me to do the thanking.
I’m so ridiculously humbled and stoked that I was able to play a small part in that night. I probably had no business playing that opening set, but this kid’s birthday wish was made true. I got the time of my life.
The narrative of the music industry says that you need to be a self-centered asshole to get ahead. From the outside, it looks like the successful musicians and businesspeople are all about the “fuck you, pay me” mentality. After taking this trip down to LA and meeting with respected industry people like the Space Yacht crew, I can 100% say that is not the case. All of the recognition Space Yacht gets is deserved because the people behind it are fucking amazing.
Safe to say, I will be returning for Los Angeles for a Space Yacht, pt. 2. If my birthday was anything an average Tuesday in Hollywood, I can’t wait for the next time I need to recover on a Wednesday.
Henry got a chance to respond. Here’s his afterword:
“It’s so refreshing to see Space Yacht through Sky’s eyes.
The beauty of the opening slot is that you can be more flexible and take more risks in who you book. It’s a chance to get to get a pulse on who will be making the next ripple in the scene. I got to know Sky through Matt from Space Race and we ended chatting online for a while before this show.
It’s crazy that it may seem exclusive from the outside, but once you get there, you see that it’s really just a little party in a little place. Anyone who’s heard of Space Yacht online or otherwise is welcome to come. I don’t care if you’re a famous DJ or a if you’re an accountant-by-day looking for a place to hear something new.
I’m not particularly the Hollywood type–bottle service clubs are great for a certain purpose, but growing up around the edges of LA, I felt more at home at house parties and warehouses where the vibe is casual.
The end game isn’t for Space Yacht to become a huge club event… in that regard, Space Yacht is kind of like the anti-promoter of Hollywood. Space Yacht is really Rami, Ollie and me putting on what we like. We don’t take ourselves too seriously–we’re building a place for our friends and community to hang.“
A big shoutout to all of the people who helped make my birthday trip a blast: Cody, Andy, Jimmy, Caesar, Matt, Alex, Nate, Seth, Tyy, Robert, Cole, Cori. Also big ups to the peeps at ICON Collective, White Rabbit Group, and Space Yacht for the incredible hospitality. Y’all are amazing and I will be seeing you soon back in Southern California.