I don’t realize I’m late to Disco Dining Club’s inaugural weed even as a bored drag queen teases me lightly then asks the correct pronunciation of my last name. “Ja-nic-kee-an,” I tell her, mesmerized by her sparkling blue outfit and matching eye makeup. She invites me inside a non-descript house in what seems to me—an out-of-towner—like a boring neighborhood. Little houses with matching lawns and short driveways, it’s just another suburb, like Long Island with palm trees.
I make my way slowly through the house, toward the backyard, through an elaborately decorated living room with pillows on the floor and people passing joints around coffee tables covered in weed and other cannabis products. A neon light on the fireplace mantle burns the word “Consume,” half of the Disco Dining Club’s mantra: “Consume Everything.” The events are meant to bring all “the excess, debauchery and hedonism of disco” into the dining room, and at their first cannabis event, that also means a shit ton of weed.
“I started Disco Dining Club to harken the glory days of parties, when colorful characters and fervent debauchery reigned supreme,” says host and Founder of Disco Dining Club, Courtney Nichols. “Disco Dining Club events are a constantly evolving concept, with each party building upon the eccentricities of the last. The ultimate goal? To create the ‘perfect’ party.”
Dinner in the Garden of Earthly Delights is such a different kind of event than the High Times Cannabis Cup I covered the day before, on 4/20. The crowd at Disco Dining Club is more my speed, equal parts badass women to stylish men—and everyone in costume. I’m self-conscious about my lack of a Southern California style; it’s my first time in the States in nearly a year. California in general is surreal to me, an East Coast woman who’s been living abroad for most of the past four years. But the Disco Dining Club invites me in with open arms to a familiar kind of weird I’m ready to lose myself in.
The backyard unfolds as I make my way through the house. There’s a colorful table set for 50, and the attention to detail makes it the most Instagram-ready setting I’ve ever seen. I’m still learning the importance of Instagram in LA, adding to my culture-shock fueled insecurities. I take some photos I never look at again while a melancholy mime poses nearby for no one. The garden is surprisingly big and full of chic people, possibly “influencers,” mingling, getting photographed, and smoking pink joints.
I finish my drink and open the CBD coffee I snagged from inside for the extra boost. We’re asked to seat ourselves for dinner, and the picturesque spread of arranged flowers, pink joints with gold tips on delicate stands, hemp cloth napkins, and lightly medicated artisanal lollipops gets ruined immediately by ash and clutter. My table mates are all snarky and fun, and the conversation slips between the playfully surreal to trading business cards without skipping a beat.
There’s three courses of delicate dishes prepared by Chef Nico Ava, paired with mixologist-created cocktails and curated joints by the Six Veils Social Club. We start the feast with an organic sativa strain of weed, San Fernando Valley OG, and a spicy cocktail that’s somehow made with quinoa to accompany my first “snow fungus” experience. The pasta-like mushroom is seasoned with chamomile to enhance our relaxation, but among the weed and cocktails, it’s hard to tell if it’s working.
By the second course, a hefty Shen Jian dumpling topped with caviar and gold leaf, once sure-of-themselves guests are stumbling over their words and forgetting what they’re saying, hitting a joint rolled with rose petals instead. The soft petals hold a strong organic indica strain, Strawberry Banana, that the budtenders recommend we all take slowly. But we ignore them to savor the unique flavor of the petals, which apparently “activates” our high even more.
Candles are lit at the table and the sunset reflects gorgeous golden light into the garden before turning into cotton candy colors in the sky. At some point, a grapefruit cocktail is brought to me and someone starts playing the guitar. A pho-inspired last course arrives which I slurp down, the munchies causing me to forget the manners I was pretending to have. My table mates joke about going to McDonalds and I take notes by candle light that I’ll never be able to decipher the next day.
Dinner ends with our host, Nichols, giving some brief announcements about what she has in store for us for the rest of the evening. There’s dessert, chow mein and more live music on the way. We’re encouraged to go explore, unless the table is our safe place, then we should stay right where we are. There are giggles. Everyone’s so buzzed, no one’s in a rush to stand up.
Nichols admits to me that she was apprehensive about serving alcohol and weed at the same event but decided to go for it in the spirit of disco. “I do not believe that any sensation should be mutually exclusive,” Nichols says. “If you are smoking good weed, you might as well be tasting delectable food, while drinking perfectly matched cocktails, and listening to the perfect music. This is the embodiment of Disco Dining Club: to consume everything.”
I tell her I’m glad she did serve both. Imagining going to a party like this alone without any booze terrifies me. Plus, I hate all the anti-alcohol sentiment in the cannabis industry. We’re all adults, we don’t have to choose one over the other, in moderation, of course. Although, to be honest, at a party whose motto is “consume everything,” it’s hard not to over-indulge. Yet, as far as I can tell, everyone seems to keeping their cool. Plus, Nichols planned ahead by leaving CBD chocolates and coffee around for us to sample at our leisure that will keep our high or alcohol buzz in check.
The night continues, now a hazy blur of live music, synthesizers, trippy projections and distant conversations, watching joints being passed (probably hitting them), and waiting on the bathroom line. For my last night stateside for a while, it was the perfect way to end my 4/20 American excursion—in excess.