Lipgloss moves from La Rumba to Beauty Bar

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Aaron Thackeray
Lipgloss is changing locations. After an award-winning, eight-year run at La Rumba, one of Denver's longest-running dance nights is on the move from the Golden Triangle to Capitol Hill, where it will land at Beauty Bar.This Friday, June 1, will be your last chance to experience Lipgloss as you've known it at La Rumba. Given the night's longevity in this location, the fact that it's trading spaces is pretty big news. We spoke with Lipgloss co-founder and resident DJ Michael Trundle (aka boyhollow) to gain some insight about the move and what lies ahead, and we also caught up La Rumba owner Jesse Morreale to get his reaction.

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Aaron Thackeray
Michael Trundle (aka boyhollow), Lipgloss co-founder.
Westword (Josiah Hesse): La Rumba has been Lipgloss's home for so many years -- why leave? Did your relationship with the management go sour?

Michael Trundle: My relationship with La Rumba hasn't gone sour. There were two reasons: the first, obviously, being the financial one. The deal I had with them is not up to industry standards. I travel a lot, and I see what other people are making. I played in Nashville, and they're bringing in half the people that I bring in but making twice the money. And with that money they're able to produce T-shirts, mix CDs and bring in artists I'd have to turn down at La Rumba because I can't afford to lose that much money....

And then the biggest reason is eight and a half years in one venue -- it's time for a change. We've been there so long, you know, there are people who think La Rumba is called Lipgloss. And while it's good that everyone knows where you are, at the same time, everyone has been there so many times -- we've done 450 Lipglosses at La Rumba, maybe more.

Is Lipgloss not as relevant as it once was?

We were doing 700 people a night, easy [back in 2005]. There really wasn't another game in town. We still do well -- you know, 350, 400 people a night. The problem is that it's become the standby option; if there's another one-off happening, or another concert going on, or something else interesting going on, people are going to say, "Oh, let's go to that -- we've been to Lipgloss 500 times." It needs a kick in the ass to make it exciting again.

What does that look like, other than the venue change?

The venue change is a big part of it. Really, that's the main part of it. The formula in and of itself works really well.

And how would you describe that?

It's an indie-based, multi-genre night. We do everything; it's not all indie -- you can't call Michael Jackson "indie." We play whatever we feel is awesome and will make people dance.

Is that mixing of genres, in your opinion, what has made Lipgloss a success?

Yes. At least, I think so. When we first started, there was Shag over at Snakepit, and we went to it all the time. It was a Brit pop night. Very occasionally, they would play something else, but mostly it was Brit pop. So when we started Lipgloss, Tim Cook pretty much wanted to do a Brit pop night, and Tyler [Jacobson] was on board with that.

And while I wanted that, I wasn't quite the Brit pop aficionado that they were. So we decided that, while we'd be Brit pop-heavy, let's play other stuff as well. And that's what set us apart and continues to set us apart: We don't tie ourselves down to one genre. And I know others have sprung up since then, but I think we were the first in Denver to say, "Genre goes out the window; play soul, play Brit pop, play '60s, play modern music, play old-school hip-hop, whatever."

So things will mostly be staying the same at Lipgloss?

Pretty much. But we'll be able to bring in more cool artists. Now that I'm making a little bit more money, I'll be able to personally invest in artists -- and by personally invest I mean lose money. Very rarely when we bring in a special artist do we make money; we raise the cover to $7, but these DJs are asking $2,000, $3,000 a pop now. So to really make money we'd have to charge a $10 cover, which I don't want to do.

Was it easier back in 2005?

Oh, yes. We used to bring in a lot of artists. Six or seven years ago, you got a DJ for a lot less than you get them now. The DJ industry has blown up. Look at Triad Dragons -- they've become massive. DJs are headlining the Ogden. Seven years ago, there were a small handful of DJs who could do that. Now a DJ headlines the Ogden every week. I can't afford to bring in the super-well-known DJs that you would think of because they're going for $10,000 a pop.

How do you compete with that?

By staying ahead of the game, playing new stuff that isn't getting airplay yet. You know, we did the Foster the People afterparty when they were playing the Bluebird, and we'd been playing them at Lipgloss for months -- and now they're headlining Red Rocks. Same with Passion Pit. Same thing with Justice: I dropped "Waters of Nazareth" by Justice when the 12-inch came out, and it cleared the dance floor; they were like, "What the fuck is this?" And when I drop that track now people lose their minds; they love it.

It must be such a tightrope walk: trying to keep things fresh and playing what you want, and then having to please the people who've been coming to Lipgloss for so long they feel they own the music selection.

That's something we've dealt with. If someone who hasn't been to the club since 2006 comes in today, they say, "This sucks. What happened to you guys?" But I can't keep the night like it was in 2006, because the people who were 22 to 25 years old then are now 28 to 30 -- and they don't go out every night. I feel like we provide a night where almost anyone who comes to Lipgloss will hear something they like. There are the diehards, like the scooter kids, who are into what they're into -- they don't want to listen to electronica at all -- but if all you were hearing was the exact same songs from 2006, you wanna talk about stale?

Location Info

Map

La Rumba

99 W. 9th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Music

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23 comments
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Dannylarumba
Dannylarumba

Join us tonight for the final Lipgloss at La Rumba! Next Friday we will offer a special one night only event-So What! Dance Party with DJs Big Styles and K-nee. Keep your ears open for the announcement of our amazing new Friday night starting June 15th! 

Alex
Alex

"After eight and half years, there are a lot of people that would just go to Lipgloss inadvertently. They'd end up there because of the geography and because they knew that people go to La Rumba on Friday nights."

Oh, please. That's ridiculous. I get that owner/managers always want to re-write history to make their product look better, but don't try and bullshit an entire scene.

eric f
eric f

Someone said they already have new DJ's in place to start tonight.

extremetaylor
extremetaylor

That would be a pr disaster.  There's a ton of press about this being the  last Lip Gloss tonight.  It's the reason I'm going tonight.  If I pay five bucks for that and I get there and it's not the Lip Gloss guys I'm going to be pissed!  Larumba better be ready to start doing a lot of refunds and getting a lot of negative press if they do that.

Michael Trundle
Michael Trundle

Hi Taylor, 

"guest" is correct.  This one article is not remotely a "ton of press."  Club nights don't really ever garner what one could call that, as the scope of interested parties is too small to warrant it.  I'm glad you saw the article in any case.

However, you are correct in your statement that a lot of people would be upset were they to attend and not have an actual final Lipgloss at La Rumba, as that is why we promoted tonight at La Rumba and didn't start at our new venue tonight.  I'm moving forward with the assumption that we will be allowed to hold the night there tonight as agreed to by myself, Jesse Morreale and the club's management, and that this agreement will be kept - if for nothing else so that the guests of Lipgloss and La Rumba will be given what they were promised.  I truly believe while there may be a lot of tension and anger between myself and Jesse - not really from my end, but that hardly matters - that we will move forward with tonight as planned.  

If you don't see Brennen and I on the DJ stage, then you'll know that I was incorrect about that assumption.

guestU
guestU

Unless it's on the TV News and multiple Print publications it's not a lot of press. A blog interview / article on Westword.com would not be considered alot of press.

Kitty Vincent
Kitty Vincent

Many people know I am Michael Trundle's girlfriend, so there are those who will consider my comments biased, which I accept. However, I was surprised to see that Jesse Morreale (owner of La Rumba) was interviewed while Westword chose not to interview the owners of Beauty Bar. Jesse is clearly angry, and it stands to reason that he would put a negative spin on this article because he feels slighted over losing Lipgloss.  On the other hand, interviewing the owners of Beauty Bar would have put a much more positive light on the move, the decisions behind it, and the night's future moving forward. I can't help but wonder if the motivation behind this decision was more about creating controversy and readership than about supporting the work and dedication Michael has put into growing our local scene for over a decade now.  Just something to consider...

backbeatmod
backbeatmod

Kitty, thanks for weighing in. Appreciate hearing your perspective and getting your feedback. Regardless of your ties, you make a valid point: Speaking with the owners of Beauty Bar will indeed offer another perspective -- and we will likely catch up with them sometime after Lipgloss makes the move to get their perspective, as well. While these news items tend to feel definitive, really the scene is dynamic and covering it is an ongoing conversation. Right now, the main part of the story is Lipgloss leaving La Rumba, and that's why we spoke with both Michael and Jesse. But rest assured, our coverage of both Lipgloss and whatever ends up taking its place at La Rumba will continue. Anyhow, thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts.

guest
guest

That is rather insulting for Jesse to say the night is "tired", if the night was so tired then why didn't be pull the plug on it? Hopefully Beauty Bar will be committed to the night, the only thing they seem consistant at is having events at other venues. Best of luck

Michael Trundle
Michael Trundle

I believe the answer to the whole "tired" rant might be answerable by the first comment under this article.  However, I am trying to avoid the negativity which has attached itself to something that I feel very positive and happy about, and which I think proves to me more and more that I made the right choice in this move.

As far as Beauty Bar, there are no concerns there.  Both Lipgloss and Beauty Bar are dedicated and eager to make this night work in the new location, and we will.  I hope you can come down and check it out.  Thanks for the wish of luck!

Guest
Guest

Trundle- Why is it that after 8 1/2 years, you couldn't make so much as a phone call to Morreale instead of an email? Strikes me as a touch cowardly and awfully ungrateful.

Michael Trundle
Michael Trundle

Guest - 

I did try calling Jesse before I sent the email but went straight through to voicemail.  Rather than wait I, decided to go ahead and send the email to him and the rest of involved staff.  Perhaps I should have waited until I could get through, but I had plans for the rest of the day that precluded the possibility of a later phone call and I felt it best to let them know of my decision at that point.  In any case, this situation is what it is and I doubt waiting even longer to make another phone call would have eased anything.

Guest
Guest

It just seems to me that maybe the fact that you're 40 years old and having trouble paying your rent could be attributed to the fact that you quit a long standing job via email.

Szaszen
Szaszen

And we don't have to see your resume to know its not impressive.

Denverboom
Denverboom

 Actually, in modern professional resignation etiquette (Even in Fortune 500 companies), it is perfectly acceptable to send resignation emails (and actually preferred to phone calls) in 2012

Michael Trundle
Michael Trundle

One can hardly attribute my entire financial situation to how I notified this venue of my decision or even whatever attributes you seem to think are inherent in one who did so.  One could far more easily attribute it to the fact that I choose to work in a field I love which by its nature doesn't pay very well, and that I was working under a deal which paid even less than that nature would normally call for.

It's clear you have a set opinion on this situation and that I am not likely to change it, so I will sign off of this particular conversation now.  I do understand your basic point and perhaps I should have waited until I could speak to Jesse first. I just felt the more notice everyone had the sooner everyone could move forward with future plans.  Hindsight is, as they say, 20/20, but I made the decision I felt best at the time and I will stand by it.

Thank you for your comments.

WAAAA WAAA WAAAA
WAAAA WAAA WAAAA

"The deal has been the same with Michael since we started the night eight and a half years ago." To bad gas prices aren't the same as 8.5 years ago Jesse. 

brian griff
brian griff

Jesse Morreales is a piece of work.  I really don't like Trundel.  I think he's a on the arrogant side of things but if he hurt Jesse's feelings I might buy him a drink sometime soon because Jesse is a fucking asshole.  That guy sucks life away from the living.  What an asshole.

JoJo
JoJo

So they both suck, eh? 

Jmpmk2
Jmpmk2

Definitely an end of an era; and yeah, the product is vastly different than it was from 2005-2009.  The music took a shift to cheap electronica and kiddie-dubsteb, and stopped playing memorable songs that would make you smile for three hours straight.  It used to be so easy to drag a dozen people there on any weekend -- people you couldn't get to go to another dance club -- even for just the last hour, before close, to cap a night off.  Different attitude brought a different crowd, and sure, maybe we grew into our late-20's a bit too.

La Rumba?  I'll miss your $2 gin and tonics, but the location was never a draw for me.  It's an island between South Broadway and LoDo, and it's not an easy walk from either direction.  I haven't been in two years, and I don't see myself going back again either.  Cap Hill is a better commute, and maybe my favorite dance night will be more back-to-basics.

Michael Trundle
Michael Trundle

Come down and check it out again, Jmpmk2.  I think you'll be surprised.  Electronica has definitely made an inroad as so much of today's music falls into that category, but there have been little to no dubstep or electro "bangers" played at Lipgloss for almost a year, and we have a STRICT no dubstep policy - from residents or guest DJ's.  Many of those memorable songs you talk about have made their way back into rotation along with some newer ones.  That's part of the reason I wanted to move into a place that felt a little more like Lipgloss at 60 S. felt from 2001-2004.  A smaller club lends itself better to that vibe than a big club.  It feels more appropriate somehow.  Let me know if you'd like to come down.  I'll take care of you and some drinks and you can let me know what you think!  michael@denver3.com

duane
duane

looks like jesse got a case of sour grapes to me

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