Photo by David Arellanes

Jamie Jones started his career as a party host at the age of 17 with “Blue,” a Rugby club function that got its name from the single blue light he used as his whole production. It’s a thought that crossed my mind this time last weekend each moment his sprawling LED structure flashed the color blue at one of the best LA house parties I’ve been to in a decade. 

Photo by Emma Tranter

Paradise in the Park is the City of Angels’ own slice of Jones’ weekly Ibiza residency at Amnesia. In homage to original Superstar DJ Larry Levan’s New York parties at Paradise Garage, the events seek to get as diverse a number of willing revelers as possible moving as a unit at whatever dancefloor it lands. This year saw the first two day edition in SoCal with the help of LA promoter Future Primitive and A Club Called Rhonda.

Though this isn’t the first time the Los Angeles edition took place in Pershing Square, it’s a special one because it’s the first that came after the launch of Paradise Records: an imprint specifically dedicated to the underground sounds one can experience at these events. What’s extra special is that inaugural release on the label is from Dateless, an LA native. Though it’s been rather cloudy in these parts lately, the sun came through all weekend to give this music the context it deserves.  

Paradise in the Park featured a solid lineup on both Saturday and Sunday, though admittedly there were more artists on the latter half of the bill. While it may have looked lopsided on paper, the set times gave every DJ enough time to tell an appropriate story. We managed to hear a total of four hours from Jones himself if you do exact math on his back to back with Seth Troxler.

I was happy to see a larger handful of women on this year’s lineup than year’s previous. Cole Knight opened proceedings this year brandishing a classy yet active outfit and vibey tunes. Honeyluv spun disco-flavored tunes (like Adeva’s Respect) that appropriately built the energy for the legend that followed her, but maintained the individual style we love her for.

Heidi Lawden and Masha Mar took the baton from the headlining act’s back to back and made the sunlight feel extra nice on Day II. In the middle of the set, I saw Lawden point out and compliment the kimono of someone in the crowd. Watching both of them interact with the crowd and each other was a treat.

Right as golden hour was creeping in, angelenos experienced a power hour and a half from Chloé Caillet. It was her last of a five show run across a four day period, but she had the energy of a DJ on their first night on tour.

Dynamic trio Mason Collective sowed together a host of exhilarating house tunes including several my watch couldn’t identify. Either the device needs to get taken to the shop or we experienced a load of cool new exclusives from them.

The sunset sets had excellent soundtracks on both days. SG Lewis played an energetic DJ set with heaters like his remix of Channel Tres’ Sexy Back Timberlake. A surprise and delight moment came from hearing a danceable version of one of my favorite Basement Jaxx tunes, Good Luck. The video I took of that was awful; I raged too much to it. Day I saw Disco legend DJ Harvey bring the crowd into the night. His smile in particular is just as infectious as the tunes he’s included in years of mixcompilatians.

As soon as the Paradise logo’s projection hit the spire-like structure at Pershing, Jones knocked the filled space into a frenzy. His back to back on the first night threw in a load of popular vocals; I’ve never heard such a jazzy rendition of “Bitch Better Have my Money-” …ever. The multifaceted artist made sure to bring Sunday to a climax, too. Jones has plenty of tunes on his tenured imprint Hot Creations and his brand new Paradise records to throw into the set, and anyone who may have seen him at the Yuma tent just a few months ago still got a new experience with this series of tunes. 

Pershing Square itself is an incredible place to hear sounds like this in. As the crowd filed in during the early afternoon, the big steps on the dancefloor served as a nice spot to both  scarf down oven fried pizza and even shuffle on while there was space. The only drawback to entering the venue early during the summer was the lack of a safe haven from the bright and harsh sun off the dancefloor. Still, the breeze lifted some of the heat and areas of shade next to the dazzling set pieces and food trucks were close by. 

I always feel like more people should show up to the party around doors and enjoy the atmosphere as it builds, but understand that hangovers and pregames are bound to happen around that time. It’d be cool to see an incentive like a big happy hour brunch special kind of a thing lure people in so that they can both recover and get wound up for a full night of dancing. With the right amount of shade and drink discounts, there might be even more fun memories for people to reflect on. I was just happy to see the bar offered Yerba Mate of anyone who may have gone too hard too early. 

One can certainly vouch for the fact that on both days when the sun was out of sight, the entire place became lively at the turn of a hat. Not only was the main dancefloor packed, but the crowd itself all around felt extremely friendly. I actually wasn’t even able to make it until late in the day on Day I and felt like it would have been a waste to only come for the last three hours. Upon dancing for quite a while with a cool group of strangers who appreciated my compliment of their bright sweater, I almost felt like that three hours would have been enough for the whole weekend. Scanning the the crowd a few times that night revealed a great mix of people dancing crazily with each other, having a ball in conversation, and sharing hard pulls of their drinks. It made me all the more excited to get a full Sunday in the books. 

There were plenty of phones in the air taking videos and group photo ops in the middle of the dancefloor, but never an overabundance of either. Plenty of people dressed to impress, but nothing dramatic; I saw everything from cow onsies to jerseys. The multi-leveled dancefloor led to plenty of clumsy moments, but everyone I encountered said excuse me…though there was enough room for that to not have to happen as often. There seems to always be an insatiable need to have any given event grow to fill stadiums and larger, but this event living at Pershing Square forever may just be perfect. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

Jones finished off the entire weekend with his appropriately titled single on Defected, “My Paradise.” After an ending like that, there wasn’t this insatiable need to egg him on for one more song. One could resonate with track’s central message of having us all living our individual experiences with a lot more joy thanks to others…whoever that might be. Some feel that about the loved one they were with, others with complete strangers who let them take a chug out of their beer. Jones’ own mission as a DJ to curate a unique and unified vibe in the crowd was easily accomplished again in 2023 thanks to a combination of exciting music, a great place to house it, and fun loving humans. People outside of the Dance Music ecosystem always wonder why we go to listen to music like this so often, and Paradise in the Park felt like a shining example of proof that these kinds of events are worth every penny.

If you can, I’d fly to Ibiza to check out the weekly series of parties. Stay tuned for news about next year’s affair.

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