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