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Underground music gets scrutiny after deadly Oakland fire

Associated Press logo Associated Press 12/22/2016 By MICHAEL R. BLOOD, Associated Press
This Nov. 1, 2016 photo provided by David Coons shows a fire dance performance in an underground music club known as known as Purple 33 in a Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles. About a week after 36 people died in a fire at an underground music party in Oakland, inspectors acting on a complaint discovered a makeshift nightclub and unpermitted living quarters concealed in a warehouse near Los Angeles International Airport. Authorities searching the drab, two-story building found an illegally constructed dance floor, paired with a bar and DJ booth. (David Coons via AP) © The Associated Press This Nov. 1, 2016 photo provided by David Coons shows a fire dance performance in an underground music club known as known as Purple 33 in a Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles. About a week after 36 people died in a fire at an underground music party in Oakland, inspectors acting on a complaint discovered a makeshift nightclub and unpermitted living quarters concealed in a warehouse near Los Angeles International Airport. Authorities searching the drab, two-story building found an illegally constructed dance floor, paired with a bar and DJ booth. (David Coons via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The closing of an illegal Los Angeles music club highlights growing friction between underground venues and authorities who see them as disasters-in-waiting.

This Dec. 19, 2016 photo shows the exterior of an underground music club known as known as Purple 33 in the Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles. About a week after 36 people died in a fire at an underground music party in Oakland, inspectors acting on a complaint discovered a makeshift nightclub and unpermitted living quarters concealed in a warehouse near Los Angeles International Airport. Authorities searching the drab, two-story building found an illegally constructed dance floor, paired with a bar and DJ booth. (AP Photo/Christine Armario) © The Associated Press This Dec. 19, 2016 photo shows the exterior of an underground music club known as known as Purple 33 in the Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles. About a week after 36 people died in a fire at an underground music party in Oakland, inspectors acting on a complaint discovered a makeshift nightclub and unpermitted living quarters concealed in a warehouse near Los Angeles International Airport. Authorities searching the drab, two-story building found an illegally constructed dance floor, paired with a bar and DJ booth. (AP Photo/Christine Armario)

About a week after 36 people died in a fire at an underground music party in Oakland, inspectors acting on a complaint discovered a makeshift nightclub and unpermitted living quarters concealed in a warehouse near Los Angeles International Airport.

This Dec. 19, 2016 photo shows an exterior stairway of an underground music club known as known as Purple 33 in a Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles. About a week after 36 people died in a fire at an underground music party in Oakland, inspectors acting on a complaint discovered a makeshift nightclub and unpermitted living quarters concealed in a warehouse near Los Angeles International Airport. After the deadly fire, officials in LA, Baltimore and other cities announced plans to aggressively pursue illegally converted warehouses and other jerry-rigged living spaces. (AP Photo/Christine Armario) © The Associated Press This Dec. 19, 2016 photo shows an exterior stairway of an underground music club known as known as Purple 33 in a Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles. About a week after 36 people died in a fire at an underground music party in Oakland, inspectors acting on a complaint discovered a makeshift nightclub and unpermitted living quarters concealed in a warehouse near Los Angeles International Airport. After the deadly fire, officials in LA, Baltimore and other cities announced plans to aggressively pursue illegally converted warehouses and other jerry-rigged living spaces. (AP Photo/Christine Armario)
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After the deadly fire, officials in LA, Baltimore and other cities announced plans to aggressively pursue illegally converted warehouses and other jerry-rigged living spaces.

This Dec. 19, 2016 photo shows Donald Cassel, 56, the proprietor of an underground music club known as Purple 33 in a Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles. Cassel acknowledges he ran Purple 33 without proper authorization, but says it's not because he didn't try. The businessman-contractor-inventor who once sold skateboard parts claims he spent $70,000 on licensing and other fees to try to get the city to green-light his club, whose patrons he calls "a family." (AP Photo/Christine Armario) © The Associated Press This Dec. 19, 2016 photo shows Donald Cassel, 56, the proprietor of an underground music club known as Purple 33 in a Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles. Cassel acknowledges he ran Purple 33 without proper authorization, but says it's not because he didn't try. The businessman-contractor-inventor who once sold skateboard parts claims he spent $70,000 on licensing and other fees to try to get the city to green-light his club, whose patrons he calls "a family." (AP Photo/Christine Armario)

The threat of a crackdown is unnerving musicians and artists who routinely accept risks that can come with performing on unlicensed stages.

This Dec. 19, 2016 photo shows a fire extinguisher hanging on the wall at an underground music club known as known as Purple 33 in a Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles. About a week after 36 people died in a fire at an underground music party in Oakland, inspectors acting on a complaint discovered a makeshift nightclub and unpermitted living quarters concealed in a warehouse near Los Angeles International Airport. Authorities searching the drab, two-story building found an illegally constructed dance floor, paired with a bar and DJ booth. Haphazard wiring snaked through walls, and an outdoor staircase capped by a bamboo canopy was flagged as a fire threat. (AP Photo/Christine Armario) © The Associated Press This Dec. 19, 2016 photo shows a fire extinguisher hanging on the wall at an underground music club known as known as Purple 33 in a Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles. About a week after 36 people died in a fire at an underground music party in Oakland, inspectors acting on a complaint discovered a makeshift nightclub and unpermitted living quarters concealed in a warehouse near Los Angeles International Airport. Authorities searching the drab, two-story building found an illegally constructed dance floor, paired with a bar and DJ booth. Haphazard wiring snaked through walls, and an outdoor staircase capped by a bamboo canopy was flagged as a fire threat. (AP Photo/Christine Armario)

Musicians and promoters in the underground scene say there are few other options and costly permits and licensing can make events unfeasible.

This Dec. 19, 2016 photo shows Donald Cassel, 56, the proprietor of an underground music club known as known as Purple 33 in a Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles. Cassel acknowledges he ran Purple 33 without proper authorization, but says it's not because he didn't try. The businessman-contractor-inventor who once sold skateboard parts claims he spent $70,000 on licensing and other fees to try to get the city to green-light his club, whose patrons he calls "a family." (AP Photo/Christine Armario) © The Associated Press This Dec. 19, 2016 photo shows Donald Cassel, 56, the proprietor of an underground music club known as known as Purple 33 in a Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles. Cassel acknowledges he ran Purple 33 without proper authorization, but says it's not because he didn't try. The businessman-contractor-inventor who once sold skateboard parts claims he spent $70,000 on licensing and other fees to try to get the city to green-light his club, whose patrons he calls "a family." (AP Photo/Christine Armario) This Dec. 19, 2016 photo shows an interior exit stairway at an underground music club known as known as Purple 33 in a Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles. About a week after 36 people died in a fire at an underground music party in Oakland, inspectors acting on a complaint discovered a makeshift nightclub and unpermitted living quarters concealed in a warehouse near Los Angeles International Airport. After the deadly fire, officials in LA, Baltimore and other cities announced plans to aggressively pursue illegally converted warehouses and other jerry-rigged living spaces. (AP Photo/Christine Armario) © The Associated Press This Dec. 19, 2016 photo shows an interior exit stairway at an underground music club known as known as Purple 33 in a Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles. About a week after 36 people died in a fire at an underground music party in Oakland, inspectors acting on a complaint discovered a makeshift nightclub and unpermitted living quarters concealed in a warehouse near Los Angeles International Airport. After the deadly fire, officials in LA, Baltimore and other cities announced plans to aggressively pursue illegally converted warehouses and other jerry-rigged living spaces. (AP Photo/Christine Armario)
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