It's not uncommon for long lines of patrons to form outside of the bars and nightclubs in Downtown Pomona, California. After all, the eastern L.A. County city has seen its historic center prosper as a weekend nightlife destination since the turn of the millennium. What is uncommon, however, is when said lines form on a Tuesday night, and even more peculiar is the eccentric clientele eager to march downstairs into The Basement.
As its name entails, The Basement can be found below ground level directly under the streets of Pomona. The nondescript nightclub sits at the corner of a busy intersection lined with competing watering holes and boasts a rotating roster of themed nights.
But out of the entire weekly lineup, one night in particular shines brighter than the others: a quirky little house and techno joint called Space Taco.
The brainchild of Daryl Mallick (also known as DJ Seek-One), Space Taco was born out of the necessity to fill a void in the expansive suburban sprawl that is the Inland Empire. Sitting 30 miles east of Los Angeles, residents of Pomona—and the rest of the adjacent cities—are vastly underserved when it comes to dance music and nightlife.
Mallick and his cofounders, Darrell Gramm and Chris Carry, have cemented themselves as local heroes of the electronic music scene in the I.E. Since 2015, they've been transforming what would normally be a serene Tuesday night in suburbia into a roaring party served with a winning combination of tacos and basslines.
Having grown up in neighboring La Verne, Mallick nurtured his passion for music by playing in a punk band during his high school years. After attending Insomniac's Electric Daisy Carnival at the L.A. Coliseum, his attention shifted to the emerging sounds of EDM.
"Going to EDC made me say, 'This is what I wanna do for the rest of my life,'" recalls Mallick. "So I quit my job and went to school for music at the L.A. recording school. Eventually, I started producing and throwing local parties."
A twist of fate at a taco restaurant presented Mallick with an opportunity to showcase his talents at a venue in Downtown Pomona. After a year of grassroots marketing, the weekly event started gaining traction, attracting then-emerging acts Omnom, Steady Rock, Franklyn Watts, and VNSSA, the latter of whom recently performed at Coachella.
The prosperity of the Tuesday evening soirees has garnered the attention of bigger artists in the industry longing to perform in the confines of the subterranean club. Doc Martin, Lubelski, Richard Vission, Tommie Sunshine, Sage Armstrong, Adam Auburn, DJ Irene, Roger Sanchez, and Christian Martin have all graced the stage at Space Taco throughout the last seven years.
"We have a lot of people on our waiting list that wanna play our events, which is the exact opposite of when we started," says Mallick. "We used to email people just to check out our socials and now we have artist agencies that are knocking on our doors."
Despite their achievements, organizers continue to concentrate on spotlighting new and local acts. Space Taco's nurturing of budding talent is highlighted quarterly in an event called "New Blood Night," where aspiring artists congregate to showcase their skills behind the decks in hopes of landing a coveted spot on the roster.
"Our formula has been getting a big person and showcasing new talent, then getting midlevel or old-school DJs," Mallick explains. "There's a lot of talent out there. We're always thinking about the next generation and how we can further help our community out."
The emphasis on local talent and serving the community is one of the driving forces behind the success of Space Taco. Organizers of the event allow local artists, merchants, and vendors that cater to the rave lifestyle to set up shop inside the venue free of charge.
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"We don't charge anyone for vendor fees," affirms Mallick. "We have a very open-door policy for merchants in our community."
That open-door policy doesn't just apply to the small businesses selling niche items either. Being the only weekly house music affair in the area has opened the door for an unconventional crowd to show up faithfully every Tuesday night. On any given night, the grounds at Space Taco will be filled with shufflers, break-dancers, glovers, light show and poi artists, and hula hoopers.
"It's a very eclectic crowd," Mallick adds. "Everybody is vibing, from the wooks to the hardcore techno snobs, and it's something that really makes me happy."
Another thing that makes Mallick happy is the loyal fanbase he has amassed, formed by those that call the Pomona Valley home. The recurring affair has a very active presence on Facebook and Mallick himself is engaged on Space Taco's social media accounts.
"We have our group on Facebook that we're really connected on," reveals Mallick. "On Instagram, we're very much about showing our crowd and posting photos of people that show up and attend because they're just as important if not more important than the music."
However, the interactions Mallick has with attendees of his events go beyond the internet. As a resident DJ himself, he is often at the Tuesday night parties and can be seen engaging with guests.
"I make it a point to shake people's hands and thank them for coming," Mallick says. "I try to stay on the floor and talk to as many people as I can."
That connection with the community is integral for the advancement of Space Taco, whose core audience continues to be the eastern half of the Los Angeles metro area. Mallick understands this, indicating the resurgence of dance music in recent years.
"Eight years ago nobody wanted house music at all," says Mallick. "It was all Top 40 and hip-hop."
In a metropolis as big as Southern California, the epicenter of electronic music continues to be in the City of Angels. However, events like Space Taco are beginning to shift the focus further east, creating a hotbed for ravers in the I.E.
As far as the future is concerned, Mallick is fixated on maintaining the momentum and continuing to expand on his audience. He hopes to continue at The Basement for years to come, a venue that can hold 800 people and has room to expand.
"Space Taco is a labor of love," he adds. "It will always be the hub, our flagship, our weekly event, and in my heart, I'll never let it go."