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December 19, 2014

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The party’s over

After four years, Say What?! says goodbye

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Laura Davis

The Indie Krush DJs play the final Say What?!

The Beauty Bar would mark its fifth anniversary with a celebratory night of free food, booze and live music on Sunday, but one night earlier, the venue is hosting a less joyful occasion. The once-a-month underground electro-house party known as Say What?! is saying farewell after four years spent bringing hipsters and hangovers together Downtown.

I walk in toward the end of The Electro War, a documentary about America's indie-electro scene. When it's finished, its giant projection screen is taken down — a symbolic moment if ever there was one. "The whole movie's about what we were doing four years ago, back then it was a new music style," Say What?! organizer Jason Sturtsman explains in the Beauty Bar's courtyard, as local singer Jessica Chavez leaves the stage, making way for LA quartet The Tender Box.

Why end the event? Sturtsman says it's less about wavering turnout — the dance floor is packed tonight, the outdoor area isn't — than his own need to try something new. "I need a break. I'm focusing on yoga," he says, nodding toward his nearby instructor.

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L.A.'s The Tender Box plays during the final Say What?! at Beauty Bar.

While a goodbye party typically brings teary eyes, tonight's mood isn't entirely a downer. Thick-rimmed glasses brimming over smiley faces abound as many take advantage of the flashing photo booth, one of Sturtsman's favorite aspects of the party. "Being able to document people in the prime of their life — it's a snap shot of Las Vegas, of the people that came to the party," he says.

As the Indie Krush DJs hype up the growing crowd, DJ Roccanova (aka Chris Curry), a two-year Say What?! resident, expresses apprehension over its closing. "I'm really scared now that this event's gone, that this culture is going to be nonexistent," he says.

Never fear: Sturtsman plans to continue his similar once-a-month party at Hypnotic Lounge. And, he says, he might start up a similar night at the Artisan. Just don't ask him about it while he's working on his downward dog.

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