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After 22 Years of Bringing 80s Music to Downey, The Hully Gully Is Closing This Weekend

The Hully Gully was the first place my best friend Tracie, and I went to as 21-year old Downey lifers. Her mom would drop us off, and her brother would pick us up. His payment for a late-night club pick-up was a Sampler Trio from Jack in the Box located in the same parking lot. One Step Beyond by Madness, Matador by Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, and Electricity by OMD are just a few of the many songs that I will never be able to dissociate from Friday nights at the Hully Gully.  

As you walk up to the two-story brick building to get your ID checked, you start to hear muffled familiar tunes. When the door opens, the 80s suck you back in. There’s a bar with a neon menu on the right, and on the left, there’s a live DJ and a wooden dance floor. “You can’t help it. It’s like involuntary movement,” says Danny Sanchez. He is the founder of 80s Club Addiction, a group of 80s themed nightclubs in California. “People come here to have a great time and feel young again.” 

Since 2000, the Hully Gully in Downey has welcomed clubgoers of all walks of life every Friday and Saturday. Some rock leopard dresses, with pompadours and big red flowers in their hair. Others show up in jeans and band T-shirts or the classic club button-up shirt. Neon-colored portraits of Dave Gahn, Siouxsie Sioux, and Robert Smith light the walls. The menu at the bar features drinks like Pac-Man, Pretty in Pink, and Ghostbuster. 

Sanchez and his wife have been the sole promoters of 80s nights at the Hully Gully. “This is like our baby. We make all of the flyers ourselves,” He says. Dance to 80s music in the front room, Rock en Español in the back room, or hang out on the patio. On the wall of the narrow hallway between these two rooms, a flier with a picture of an Aquanet bottle reads, “80s Flashback Dance Party, New Wave, KROQ Classics, Dark Wave.” Although primarily an 80s club, DJs dance between genres and decades. This is a place where you might hear Depeche Mode’s Just Can’t Get Enough, followed by a cumbia, Debbie Deb’s Lookout Weekend, then an industrial track. It is a melting pot for southeast Los Angeles. You can also order some nachos and jalapeño poppers from their Snack Shack, Baby Snack Shack menu. 

Sanchez started 80s Club Addiction when he was a house DJ at a strip club in Anaheim. He suggested having an 80s night to the owner, and it was a hit, and within a few months, 80s night outgrew the club’s capacity. 

He then moved 80s Club Addiction to a space in Garden Grove. “After about six months, the place would get so packed that we had to turn people away, and I would feel really bad.” Says Sanchez.

Once again, it was time to look for a bigger space. One night, during his search for a new home for 80s Club Addiction, he randomly walked into The Hully Gully bar.

Sanchez has booked Dramarama, Flock of Seagulls, Berlin, English Beat, and even Richard Blade has guest DJs at the Hully Gully throughout the years. Sanchez started DJing at house parties when he was 13 years old, and he even DJ’d his own prom. His wildest dream as a teenager was to own a nightclub one day, and he’s living that dream.

“In 2000, when I first approached the owners of the Hully Gully, they told me they didn’t like club promoters, but they loved the 80s, so they gave me a chance.” 

Sanchez has booked Dramarama, Flock of Seagulls, Berlin, English Beat, and even Richard Blade has guest DJs at the Hully Gully throughout the years. Sanchez started DJing at house parties when he was 13 years old, and he even DJ’d his own prom. His wildest dream as a teenager was to own a nightclub one day, and he’s living that dream. Although he doesn’t own the Hully Gully, he does own four other 80s nightclubs. 

In 2020, when the pandemic hit, the club shut down for over a year, but they kept the party going with live DJs through Zoom. They had to postpone their 20th-anniversary celebration until they could reopen. When they finally opened their doors again, they expanded their patio added heat lamps and outdoor speakers. I was curious what the Hully Gully would be like during this time, so my husband and I visited in May 2021. It was slightly different from past visits, but still a great time. As we headed out for the night, we struck up a conversation with one of the bouncers, Daniel, who says he goes by “Cue Ball.” If you’ve ever been to the Hully Gully, you’ve probably noticed there are apartments on the second floor. I always wondered, “Who lives there?” Well, Daniel used to live there. “I would be laying in bed and could feel the bass in my chest.” Shortly after, the Hully Gully started hosting 80s Club Addiction. Instead of letting the loud weekly thumping bass keep him up at night, he started working there. 

“I’ve seen it all over the past 22 years. This place is haunted.” He started telling me about some of the paranormal experiences he’s had there over the years. 

The Hully Gully used to be a restaurant called the Dixie Belle. It was a popular happy hour hangout for Rockwell employees back in the ’70s. The Dixie Belle also hosted shuffleboard tournaments, and legend has it, Johnny Cash once played there. When I interviewed Sanchez, he said he and other staff had paranormal experiences there. A haunted 80s club. I’d watch that movie. Why did the restaurant close? What was it before it was the Dixie Belle? Why are there apartments above it? Ghosts? There might have to be a second installment of this article.

Your last chance to experience the Hully Gully for yourself and say goodbye to this iconic Downey establishment is this Friday and Saturday, January 28th and 29th. It will be open from 9 PM to 2 AM on Friday and Saturday. Pro tip: Be sure to park across the street in the Stox parking lot. Throw on those creepers, Chucks, wing tips, whatever you got. The Hully Gully has always been a place welcoming to all. 

"Anybody and whoever came to the Hully Gully in Downey experienced good times, good music, and memories that will last a lifetime. It truly is the end of an era, but It was a good run. I'm so happy my dream has brought so many people together" He says married couples have told him that they met at the Hully Gully, and others have formed lifelong friendships. After the lights go off this Saturday night, the Hully Gully experience will continue every weekend at Danny Sanchez’s other 80s clubs, including New Wave Bar in Bellflower, Totally 80s Bar in Fullerton, That 80s Bar in Montclair, Club 80s in Corona, and a new location that he will announce soon. 

"The ’80s will never die,” says Sanchez. “This music always brings me back to being a 16-year-old kid. My wildest dreams have come true, and I feel blessed and lucky.”

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