Here’s What I Played at La Cuevita on December 22, 2023

La Cuevita bar in Highland Park, Los Angeles (Photo: Liz Ohanesian)
Waiting for the Lyft outside of La Cuevita. (Pic: Liz O.)

We were right around a dark stretch of the 110, near where the freeway crosses the L.A. River when I saw very brief flash of light and heard my Lyft driver gasp. Somebody was running across the freeway, he said. I looked to the side and saw a figure— thin, dressed entirely black save for the sneakers, which had something reflective on them— climb over the barricade. I don’t know about the driver, but I was stunned for the rest of the ride home from La Cuevita, remaining mostly silent through the end of “Personal Jesus,” which was bumping in the car, and then nervously tapping the beat of “This Charming Man” on my leg while thinking about how grateful I was to have gotten such a good driver right before the surge pricing went into effect on the Friday before Christmas. 

Earlier that evening, my husband and I had gone to dinner at Hop Woo. After bowls of egg drop soup and a sizzling plate of beef and asparagus, we opened our fortune cookies. “Your life will be prosperous,” mine read. I laughed. Then I noticed that two of the lucky numbers on the fortune corresponded with my birthday. I’m not a person who strongly believes in luck— that would require also believing in a real possibility that I’m cursed— but this fortune stuck with me throughout the night. 

Maybe there was a point to the message inside the cookie. After all, I hadn’t planned to DJ on Friday night; Malvada texted me earlier in the day and asked if I wanted to join her at La Cuevita. Since I had just finished my last writing assignment of the year that morning, I said yes because, when you’re a freelancer, last minute gigs always come in handy. On top of the extra gig, a payment from one of my writing assignments came in weeks earlier than I anticipated. Hmmm, were these all signs that I should get a Powerball ticket?

But, what if prosperity isn’t just about monetary success? That is the literal definition, but that doesn’t have to be the only one. While I was DJing at La Cuevita, someone requested a song that I didn’t have and he was cool with it. In fact, he gave me a lime. He said that he just passes them out to people. Maybe some find that unusual, but I didn’t, after all, it’s still lime season in L.A. I just thought it was nice.

Something I’ve noticed at my gigs this past year is an uptick in really nice people hanging out at the bars and clubs. The crowds might be smaller than they were pre-pandemic, or right after the city reopened, but the quality of the crowds has skyrocketed. They’re considerate and open-minded about music. Maybe that’s a different kind of prosperity. If surrounding yourself with a wealth of decent people and good tunes means anything, then I guess I’m already prosperous. 

Next up on the calendar is New Year’s Eve at Club Underground in Chinatown, where I’ll be playing with Larry G. and Malvada. Early bird tickets are available through Eventbrite and Dice

And now for last night’s set lists…

(Want some of this music? Some of these tracks link to their corresponding listings on Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases made from the links in this set list. Thanks for your support!)

Set 1:

Talking Heads – Girlfriend is Better

Steve Monite – Only You (Monsieur Van Pratt Boosted Edit)

The Jets – Crush on You

Nuovo Testamento – Heartbeat (Curses Remix – Edit)

Magazine 60 – Don Quichotte 

Gorillaz – Dare (DFA Remix)

Asha Puthli – I Am Song (Sing Me) (Yuksek Remix)

Edwyn Collins – A Girl Like You

Edwin Starr – Twenty Five Miles

Stevie Wonder – Uptight

Jacques Dutronc – Le Responsable

Peter, Bjorn, John – Young Folks

Bee Gees – IOIO

The Clash – Spanish Bombs

Soda Stereo – Tele-Ka

Kate Fagan – I Don’t Wanna Be Too Cool

Los Prisioneros – Muevan las Industrías (request)

Martin Dupont – Inside Out

Spiritual Cramp – Talkin’ on the Internet

Gloria Jones – Tainted Love

Charo – (Mamacita) ¿Donde Esta Santa Claus 

Set 2: 

New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle (Shep Pettibone 12″ Remix) (request)

Tame Impala – Is It True (Twin Sun Edit)

Animal Collective – My Girls

LCD Soundsystem – Someone Great

Daft Punk – Da Funk

Choco The New Harlem Sound-My Little Donkey

Tom Tom Club – Genius of Love

Zapp – More Bounce to the Ounce

Herb Alpert – Rise (Daz Rise Up Edit)

George Baker Selection – Little Green Bag

Freeda Payne – Band of Gold

Chumbawamba – Tubthumping

Wet Leg – Chaise Longue

Soft Cell – What!

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – The Night

Gorillaz – Clint Eastwood (request)

Sister Nancy – Bam Bam 

Liz O. is an L.A.-based writer and DJ. Read her recently published work and check out her upcoming gigs.