It's not uncommon for long lines of patrons to form outside of the bars and nightclubs in Downtown Pomona, California. After all, the eastern L.A. County city has seen its historic center prosper as a weekend nightlife destination since the turn of the millennium. What is uncommon, however, is when said lines form on a Tuesday night, and even more peculiar is the eccentric clientele eager to march downstairs into The Basement.
As its name entails, The Basement can be found below ground level directly under the streets of Pomona. The nondescript nightclub sits at the corner of a busy intersection lined with competing watering holes and boasts a rotating roster of themed nights.
But out of the entire weekly lineup, one night in particular shines brighter than the others: a quirky little house and techno joint called Space Taco.
The brainchild of Daryl Mallick (also known as DJ Seek-One), Space Taco was born out of the necessity to fill a void in the expansive suburban sprawl that is the Inland Empire. Sitting 30 miles east of Los Angeles, residents of Pomona—and the rest of the adjacent cities—are vastly underserved when it comes to dance music and nightlife.
Mallick and his cofounders, Darrell Gramm and Chris Carry, have cemented themselves as local heroes of the electronic music scene in the I.E. Since 2015, they've been transforming what would normally be a serene Tuesday night in suburbia into a roaring party served with a winning combination of tacos and basslines.
Daryl Mallick (aka DJ Seek-One)
Having grown up in neighboring La Verne, Mallick nurtured his passion for music by playing in a punk band during his high school years. After attending Insomniac's Electric Daisy Carnival at the L.A. Coliseum, his attention shifted to the emerging sounds of EDM.
"Going to EDC made me say, 'This is what I wanna do for the rest of my life,'" recalls Mallick. "So I quit my job and went to school for music at the L.A. recording school. Eventually, I started producing and throwing local parties."
A twist of fate at a taco restaurant presented Mallick with an opportunity to showcase his talents at a venue in Downtown Pomona. After a year of grassroots marketing, the weekly event started gaining traction, attracting then-emerging acts Omnom, Steady Rock, Franklyn Watts and VNSSA, the latter of whom recently performed at Coachella.
The prosperity of the Tuesday evening soirees has garnered the attention of bigger artists in the industry longing to perform in the confines of the subterranean-themed club. Doc Martin, Lubelski, Richard Vission, Tommie Sunshine, Sage Armstrong, Adam Auburn, DJ Irene, Roger Sanchez and Christian Martin have all graced the stage at Space Taco throughout the last seven years.
"We have a lot of people on our waiting list that wanna play our events, which is the exact opposite of when we started," says Mallick. "We used to email people just to check out our socials and now we have artist agencies that are knocking on our doors."
Despite their achievements, organizers continue to concentrate on spotlighting new and local acts. Space Taco's nurturing of budding talent is highlighted quarterly in an event called "New Blood Night," where aspiring artists congregate to showcase their skills behind the decks in hopes of landing a coveted spot on the roster.
"Our formula has been getting a big person and showcasing new talent, then getting midlevel or old-school DJs," Mallick explains. "There's a lot of talent out there. We're always thinking about the next generation and how we can further help our community out."
The emphasis on local talent and serving the community is one of the driving forces behind the success of Space Taco. Organizers of the event allow local artists, merchants and vendors that cater to the rave lifestyle to set up shop inside the venue free of charge.