Industry Insiders: Farouk Gandhi, Rasta Rebel

Farouk Gandhi, owner of Santa Monica dance club V-Lounge and comrade to every Rastamon in Los Angeles, lets us know the real on the city’s best strip clubs, his favorite selectors, and the second coming of Tiger Woods.

Where does a man of your caliber hang out? My favorite place by far is Sam’s Hofbrau in Downtown. $2 Coors Light on Mondays and Tuesdays. You can’t go wrong. I also like to hit Carbon on Tuesdays and check out my boy Phers1 on the decks. Jamaican Gold on Sundays. Happy hour at On the Waterfront in Venice for Erdingers in the sun. Other than that I’m usually at my club.

What do you do? I wear a few different hats, but mainly, I run a nightclub and throw great parties. I started going to big festivals when I was 13, from Lollapalooza to the Smoking Groove Tours in the early 90s. From then on, I was always interested in events, concerts, and clubs. At UCLA, I was fortunate to start working on the UCLA JazzReggae Festival and eventually directed and produced the show for three years. Reggae artists, like most artists, are very eccentric. With most of them being Jamaican, I think they look at things very differently than artists from the US, making them a little tricky to deal with. I developed a surplus of patience through dealing with lots of people who look at things differently than you might.

The Westside doesn’t have a lot of good dance clubs. What is V-Lounge all about? At V-Lounge, we make sure everyone has a blast. From great music to personal attention, we really focus on everyone having a great time. Whether there are 100 people or 500 people, we try and keep the energy the same. We focus on the 25-to-35-year-old young professional who enjoys going out to have a good time, versus going out to say they were out just to impress others. We’ve been lucky to keep a pretty consistent crowd because we never tried to be that “exclusive” nightclub.

What makes a great party different from a good party? No one leaves a great party. You know a party is truly great when the majority of the crowd does not leave until they are forced out. There is an energy that everyone has and feels that defines when a party has been great.

What’s the best part of running a nightclub? I love watching people have a great time. Everyone works hard, has a lot stress, and needs to have a good time. We throw parties and get into it while we work. Let the suckas who stress keep the stress.

Who are your people? Do you pay attention to other nightlife players? I try and be cool with only cool people, not the phony LA implants out here trying to fake the funk and ruin the name of our great city. I try and check out what’s happening at other places, but mainly focus on what friends are doing in the business — other promoters, DJs, and people I’ve worked with and who have helped in my success. I always try and support.

Any secret spots in LA? LA’s got some great places if you search. The meditation center and Swami Temple on Sunset by PCH is a great place to get away. Cafe Brazil in Culver City has the best mango juice. Taco Chabelita on Western’s got a killer burrito. And if you’re in need of a stiff drink, Liquid Kitty is a great place to get your swerve on.

What about time off? I love to golf. I’m almost obsessed with it. I am Tiger Woods.

What are you doing tonight? Killing Patron and Jack shots, checking out how things are running at V-Lounge, and then hitting 4Play. In an ideal world, I’d be there every night. But it tends to hurt the pocket, so I usually got to take that out of the equation.

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