It was an unlikely location for a party. The sun was out in full force at the Del Mar Marriott, where maybe 40 partiers in beach attire danced to Osal8’s bass-heavy DJ set or lounged around the pool. Girls circled the deck with platters of Primo Hawaiian beer at five dollars a can. It felt surreal — Interstate 5 humming in the distance, beach cliffs to the west, the Jacque Fresco architecture of Carmel Valley, tourists peering curiously down from their windows, us drinking cocktails in the sun.
“We wanted to create an atmosphere where people can come out and really be exposed to electronic music in a mainstream venue but with an underground sound,” said Ocean Beats founder Jamie Minotti of the San Diego–based Madero Group, which manages several musicians, including Ana Sia, Eliot Lipp, Virtual Boy, BoomBox, Ill-esha, Ben Samples, and the Mike Pinto Band.
Since October 2010, Minotti has been teaming up with Subliminal Sound System (Austin Speed, CRMNL) roughly every other month to throw events at venues such as Winstons, Ruby Room, and Belly Up Tavern.
“For this show, we wanted to create a forum for island, dub, and reggae,” Minotti said inside the hotel’s plush bar. “Get together to party and keep it rootsy.”
To set the island vibe, Ocean Beats linked up with promoters Polynesian Underground.
“Since April, we’ve been throwing a party here every weekend called ‘Saturdaze’ with DJs and live reggae,” says Mana Thome, a robust Hawaiian man with long hair and rasta swim trunks. “The first Saturdaze was a CD-release party for [New Zealand rock/funk collective] Kora.”
The pool deck was teeming with partiers by mid-afternoon, and it became difficult to differentiate between fellow revelers and bewildered tourists caught in the midst of it.
“Are you here for the party?” I asked an older couple by the hot tub.
“Of course,” the man responded after a pause, evidently joking.
The pair turned out to be visiting from Arizona and had just returned from the Del Mar Fair. I asked them if they’d seen the deep-fried Kool-Aid, and they said they’d seen “deep-fried everything.”
Conversely, I met a gang of kids drinking Coors Light in a cabana. I was certain they had come specifically to wild out but, in fact, they were visiting from Los Angeles.
“We’re going to our friend’s house party in Encinitas tonight,” said a dude in a sideways baseball cap, “but I think we’ll just tell them to come here.”
Inside was an employee whose sole task appeared to be shuffling around the tile between the side entrance and the bathroom with towels on his feet to mop up pool water. I asked how his day was going.
“It’s been better since the music started,” the young worker beamed, sliding his way by.
Back at the pool, Virtual Boy played a brutal remix of “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter. The song had dropped while I was running around with some friends at Lightning in a Bottle, a spring music-and-arts festival east of Irvine, and we had lost our composure entirely. The song had a similar effect on the pool party, where there was much grooving and stomping of feet. Clouds rolled off the ocean with the evening and many made their way to the hot tub or rented rooms.
Polynesian Underground will be hosting Natural Vibrations (Oahu reggae) on July 2 at the Del Mar Marriott ($20). The next Ocean Beats will be in September. ■
Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Chad Deal.