The idea of “Place” has shifted dramatically since the country shut down in March of this year. What was before entirely focused on somewhere, physically, away from home, has now morphed into any sort of gathering — virtual or otherwise – that can hold our attention or provide some pleasure or distraction, even from the safety of home. Club House Global is one such virtual space, an online dancefloor where fans of music, DJ-ing and live entertainment can come together through screens to share space and a love for music.
For creators, artists, and professionals who work in the live entertainment sector, the advent of COVID-19 was as terrifying on an economic level as it was anything else. Yes, plenty of other industries can adapt to a work-from-home model, and the health of our community is a priority beyond any workplace, but for those who rely on the energy of crowds for a living, the future during this pandemic was looking bleak.
That’s where DJ and music industry veteran Jasmine Solano, photographer, videographer and producer Patrick Struys, and founding partner/executive producer Anjali Ramasunder, put their heads together to make a change for the live music space. If COVID was going to cancel concerts for the immediate future, then they were going to bring the best live experience possible to the virtual realm, instead. Combining their respective backgrounds, skill sets, and followings, the three friends banded together to create Club House Global, a virtual, sustainable platform for DJS to practice their craft during the pandemic.
“In March of 2020 when we realized that events, festivals, parties and gatherings were going to be shut down for at least a year — I began panicking,” Solano explained over email. “Not only about my income but also for the future of the DJ community at large. My long-time friend Siku said to me: ‘You need to take over the digital space, as a host, as a DJ.’ She sparked something in me. And one of my best friends, Patrick Struys, who is a tech wiz and fellow DJ, was so open to this conversation that we started building the idea without even knowing it.”
As Struys and Solano began to build out their platform, they quickly tapped Ramasunder to help with aspects like nonprofit management, business development and experiential strategy. And even in a short amount of time — less than six months — the platform has been able to create a massive impact in the streaming space. “It’s been so much hard work, but now we’re five months into a sustainable platform,” Solano said. “Club House Global subsidizes income for the DJ/artist community as well as charitable partners in the hospitality, nightlife, and social justice sectors. We’ve been able to employ over 150 DJs/artists and have raised over $30K for our charitable partners since we launched on April 4, 2020.”
It’s completely free to tune into CHG’s programming, either through their website or a Twitch stream, both of which link to their Zoom Dancefloor. But another fundamental aspect of Club Hous Global has been fundraising for all the different causes that have come to the forefront of the cultural conversation over the last few months. And as much as these charitable donations are impactful for the brand, the primary concern is always making sure that artists are compensated for their time — donations are separate from that component.
“Our model first and foremost is to subsidize income for our talent,” Solano explained. “Each artist gets paid for their time, no matter how many donations come in. Donations are a separate thread, in which we raise funds from the viewers to donate to various organizations. The organizations we choose are based on the need in society at the time. We’ve raised over $30K for the following charitable partners (MusiCares, Winston House Creative Community Fund & The United States Bartenders Guild Foundation) to the George Floyd Memorial Fund, Breonna Taylor Fund, The Bail Project, Campaign Zero, Know Your Rights Camp, Not Another Black Life, Snap4Freedom NASPAAM, and many more.”
And even though CHG was born during a timeframe when artists aren’t able to perform live and needed extra support, and audiences were unable to safely leave their homes, this platform is also designed to have longevity that will last beyond the current constructs. “We see Club House Global as a bridge between IRL events and the digital space,” Solano explained. “As we grow and develop towards the needs of our community, we hope to continue to be that bridge even post-pandemic.”
And as the community of CHG continues to expand and gain momentum, support from the IRL community in Los Angeles has been pouring in. The Ace Hotel has come on as the venue partner for the platform, offering up their Theatre in downtown LA as a home base for the project as it continues to grow. And even as they grow, a guiding principle of inclusion and an emphasis on diversity informs all of the programming for Club House Global — something that’s rare in the DJ world.
Solano is a woman of color who DJs herself, so she is more than familiar with the way constructs of racism and sexism have historically dictated programming in the DJ world, and CHG is hellbent on dismantling those old tropes. “It’s Club House Global’s standard that at least half of the artists on a lineup have to be womxn,” she said. “Although it usually winds up being more than that. And anytime we have a guest curator produce a showcase, that is a requirement we have.”
All the elements of Club House Global — from the streaming, to the charity aspect, to the emphasis on inclusivity — are integral to this new platform’s identity. But at the core of it, despite everything else, is still a focus on how music can bring people together despite the circumstances. That’s the fundamental motivation for the founders, and, quite frankly, the reason why it has already been met with so much enthusiasm. “The most rewarding part of this venture is the joy it brings to the audience and artists each week,” Solano said. “We’re living in chaotic and uncertain times, and to provide a space where everyone can find joy and healing through music, seems revolutionary in itself.”