Well known and well loved among the fog strewn streets and dimly lit gay bars of San Francisco, the Hard French crew is set to bring their signature blend of gold oldies and modern style to Sothern California with “Hard French Goes to Hollywood” this Sunday, April 28th. And in anticipation of their arrival I was able to sit down and chat with the handsome and hirsute DJ Carnita, a man of many talents, who along with his record-spinning partner, Brown Amy, provides the classic beats that keep Hard French jumping (when he’s not keep the peace among San Francisco’s queer liberals).
Hey Tom, thanks for talking to me, I know you are very busy.
It’s my pleasure!
Tell me about Hard French and how it came to be.
Hard French is a collaboration between five of us; two DJs, Brown Amy and myself, and Devon, Tim and Jorge who produce and promote and do logistics around the event. The event started in march of 2010, Brown Amy and I had been DJing together a couple years before that, but we had... let’s just say “difficulties” with queer audiences figuring out our music, and feeling appreciated, and getting people dancing.
Until one day we DJ’d an after party for Homo-a-Gogo in 2009 here in San Francisco. We played our shtick and people loved it, everybody danced. Deven had produced that party, and saw us in our element, and the way the queers responded. And he had simultaneously been discussing throwing a party with Tim, Jorge and Little Amy, who now lives in New York.
There was a Saturday available at El Rio and we went for it. And we were like, “Maybe if twenty of our friends come that’ll be real cute.” But it ended up being for way more successful than we expected and it’s just grown from there.
Why did you guys decide to bring the party to Los Angeles?
Because it’s cold here in San Francisco and we love a good excuse to get warm.
Seriously though, all of us have a strong affection for L.A., Amy and I both grew up in Southern California, we all have friends down here. It’s something we’ve always felt like we should do and it’s ridiculous that it has taken us three years to do it. It’s just difficult to coordinate the travel of five people.
Why did you guys choose the Verdugo Bar to host Hard French Goes to Hollywood?
We had our friends down in L.A. gather some intel for us on bars with great patio spaces. And we had different friends tell us Verdugo would be a good fit.
You guys do know Verdugo Bar isn’t actually in Hollywood, right?
Of course we know its not in Hollywood, but ‘Hard French Goes to Glassell Park’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
Ambrosia Salad, who just moved to L.A. from San Francisco, is performing. What can the good people of Los Angeles expect from her?
They can expect uncouth interpretations of traditional songs, from their new favorite local drag queen.
In addition to your monthly parties, you also do several incredibly popular annual events, like the Hard French Winter Ball and Hard French Pride. Can you tell me about those?
Sure. We host a daytime party every Pride Sunday, What we like to do for that party is have a mix of your usual Hard French DJs and also book live entertainment. We try and run the gambit and book artists from different genres, and really give people a well rounded pride experience. And this year will be no different; live music, crazy dancing, and a ridiculous seven hour Pride party.
And for our Winter Ball we do a weekend seaside getaway in Santa Cruz and host a semi-formal event. Almost like an adult prom. Everyone dresses up. Everyone gets hotel rooms. Everyone gets way too drunk, just like your regular prom! The last couple years we’ve had it at the most spectacular venue. Its called the Coconut Grove,which is right on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. So people are dressed to the nines and dancing right on the water in this beautiful historic ballroom built in the 20’s or 30’s. We do that the first weekend in February.
That sounds fantastic. I just have one last question. Since this is your first time bringing Hard French to Los Angeles, what are you expecting out of it?
We expect the many people who have asked us to come to L.A. over the years to be there. And we are expecting to give L.A. something different than it experiences regularly. When we started in San Francisco we were giving San Francisco something different than it had experienced before. Being a mixed queer daytime party, and bringing a style of music that you probably haven’t heard since backyard BBQ’s at your grandma’s house when you were in elementary school.
We do something different it think, but in that it’s so refreshing people really gravitate toward that. We are hoping folks in Los Angeles will get it and bring the same energy and leave having had the same good experience as people in San Francisco do.
We are also hoping to get some sun; it’s been windy and foggy here.
I’m sure if there is anything Los Angeles can deliver, its sunshine.
I’m going to hold you to that.