The ceiling of the room is freckled with brightly colored shapes and deep beats swim through the crowd.
Silhouettes stretch across the dance floor where shiny shoes reflect glimmers of strobe lights and disco balls. As the night grows longer, the outfits gracing the party graduate into more daringly creative statements.
This is not just a club event; it is an answer to a prayer in a city full of people that long for an end to a clichéd club scene. It is a place where alternative cravings can be satisfied with indie music and style — it is The Workout.
“I didn’t think that we could throw a successful party, we were always just flirting with the idea,” says Eric Belladonna, founder and promoter of The Workout. Belladonna, a self-proclaimed dreamer, hosts his monthly soirée every first Friday of the month at Agenda Restaurant & Lounge on First and San Salvador streets. Here partygoers aged 21 and over pay $5 to get in and $5 per well drink.
And Belladonna’s dreams won’t fade with the morning — they become reality with the help of friends and an undying desire to bring a different scene to San José culture.
“There’s this great group on Facebook called ‘San José’s Lame Because you’re Lame,’” says Belladonna. “I love it because it’s true. If you can’t come up with something to do, it’s your responsibility to do something about being uninspired.”
Belladonna’s inspiration comes from big city San Francisco: full of nightclubs for “weird” people such as his friends and himself. But instead of trekking an hour away, they have brought a little taste back home.
Referred to by regulars as a place for great underground music, The Workout features some of the finest disc jockeys in the Bay Area, including DJs Basura, Art Thief, Rokwell, Kid Love and Johnatron.
“It’s fun because we have a great following,” says Michael “DJ Basura” Boado, a San José native. “A lot of people come and support us. We do remixes and there’s a good vibe here.”
Boado’s sets include mainstream artists such as crowd favorite Cee Lo Green, and thumping indie dance hits from Crystal Castles and La Roux.
Following suit, John “DJ Johnatron” Sagouspe of Oakland adds electronic music to the mix, living up to the party’s unconventional reputation with songs from the Bloody Beetroots and Fake Blood.
“I was the weird kid into electronic stuff while all the other kids were still listening to hip-hop and metal. I didn’t really fit in,” says Sagouspe.
As a place where eve-ryone shares the same appreciation for the genre, it seems that The Workout is the perfect stage for his style.
Kimmy Nguyen, a San José resident and employee at popular vintage clothing shop Black and Brown (on the Alameda), says she’s been coming to the party since it began.
“It’s fun to see familiar faces and our friends and to support a good party,” she says. It’s very comfortable here. I think over the years the atmosphere and crowd has become a little more eclectic and it’s really fun.”
Arizona native Brett Tracy may be unfamiliar with the San José area, but The Workout has become part of his monthly routine.
“[The Workout] is in a town where there’s not a lot of options for decent places to dance to good music,” says Tracy.
The band of misfits that Eric Belladonna thought he and his friends once were, turned out to be regular kids hungry for something outside of the box, just like their personalities and their spirits.
“The party made itself,” says Belladonna. “It was an explosion of stars that somehow made something because it wasn’t meant to happen. It’s not because of us — it’s because of the people that come here and the environment that created itself. We got really lucky.”