"After 9/11, people said, 'Hey, things are serious now.' It seemed like electronic music went into a decline after that," says Jon Bishop, one of San Diego's best-known techno DJ/recording artists. He moved here 25 years ago but was drawn to techno in 1988.
"That's when the big raves started in L.A., when the whole house and techno scene took over nightclubs, warehouses, and airport hangars." Bishop says the local scene started "when two guys from England moved here and threw a party at an abandoned meat locker on Third and K."
Dance events such as Playskool and Romper Room and clubs such as Geraldine's and 555 at Café Sevilla defined San Diego's electronic scene. Studio 64, at the now-defunct Club Montage (near the airport), could draw 1500 people on Friday nights in the late '90s. Bishop says he cohosted the most successful weekly club night.
"Club Hedonism happened every Thursday night at Rich's [in Hillcrest] for ten and a half years.... Usually club nights last two or three years.... For five years, I was on the road constantly." In the mid-'90s, Bishop was a headlining DJ at dance clubs in England, L.A., Denver, Las Vegas, and other U.S. and Canadian cities.
"Any type of music has its heyday. I would say we will never see the same explosion [in electronic dance music] that we saw in the late '80s and early '90s." Bishop, who has released over ten albums as a producer/recording artist for Britain's Tidy Trax and other labels, says digital downloading has hurt dance music as well.
According to Bishop, dance clubs now draw crowds about a third as large as crowds were ten years ago, but he says electronica is poised for a comeback. He returned to Rich's on April 6 to launch Dirty, a new Thursday-night event. Downtown clubs such as On Broadway, 4th & B, and the Onyx Room regularly host electronica nights.