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Meet Michael Antonia of The Flashdance

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Antonia.

The Flashdance began at Michael Antonia’s dining room table during the worst recession in recorded history. He had a pregnant wife and no money, which only spurred his impulsion to turn ideas into action. Michael took the idiosyncrasies of his history — DJing, producing shows, marketing, brand strategy — and synthesized them into a revolutionary whole that would change the landscape of event production & the wedding industry as a whole. Eight years later, The Flashdance is a multifaceted collective of artists and entrepreneurs, and one of the most highly regarded brands in the wedding and event industry. The collaboration of radically different talents fosters complementary and innovative ideas, not dissonant contributions. Flashdance now houses 6 companies and covers nearly every aspect of event production, whether it be furniture and props from YEAH! Rentals, photo/video/design from YEAH! Weddings, or a damn good DJ who will even get your weird reclusive cousin on the dance floor.

YEAH! Rentals / Furniture
Antonia came up in the design world by way of globetrotting as a DJ, events producer, and artistic accomplice of Alex Calderwood, founder of Ace Hotels. He worked on thousands of parties, concerts, and small corporate events before eventually producing multimillion-dollar marketing initiatives for Fortune 500 companies. Along the way, he began to wonder why all of the furniture at these events was, quite frankly, godawful.

Now the creative director and head of marketing at YEAH! Rentals and YEAH! Furniture, Antonia is best described as a modernist who has his roots in the classics. Because modern, edgy design often feels dissonant and obtrusive in its environment, Antonia is a proponent of grounded innovation: when you draw your inspiration from classic designs, you have something to build on; suddenly, modern designs are in harmony with their surroundings. Antonia infuses everything he does with a collaborative spirit; inclusiveness is reflected in the product itself. Even when a piece is making a statement, it can complement its surroundings. YEAH! is a social design brand that makes quality products. not a quality products brand that is trying to figure out how to implement a social strategy. Even so, Antonia refuses to sacrifice an ounce of quality. Thousands of hours of rigorous testing have helped him refine each design by changing materials, adjusting geometry — whatever is needed to perfect each piece. Antonia’s goal is always an original and indestructible product that wears in, not out. YEAH! Furniture has been featured in Reverie Magazine, Apartment Therapy, Remodelista, Herman Miller’s blog, 100 Layer Cake and Martha Stewart Weddings.

Michael Antonia has never stopped hustling. He was the kid who mowed every lawn, shoveled every driveway, rode 3 paper routes. He was the teenager who built bikes out of junkyard parts and sold them to his peers. He was the wunderkind who started DJing by night while booking and producing shows in night clubs, theaters, and festivals by day. He was the college graduate who was swept up in the energetic orbit of Alex Calderwood, founder of Ace Hotels, a collaboration which would launch him into the design world. He was the young father-to-be who started an event production company from his dining room table during a recession, and over the next seven years cultivated it to become The Flashdance, one of the most highly regarded brands in the wedding and event industry. He was the producer who, even in the midst of success, continued to see holes in the industry, such as the godawful furniture at the events he produced. He launched YEAH! Rentals in 2011 to runaway success, YEAH! Rentals has also developed a retail counterpart, YEAH! Furniture where thousands of hours of rigorous testing in the way of weddings and parties helped him refine each design by changing materials, adjusting geometry — whatever was needed to make it both aesthetically seamless and functionally indestructible.

Antonia infuses everything he does with a collaborative spirit; inclusiveness is reflected in the product itself. Even when a piece is making a statement, it can complement its surroundings. The same spirit informs his other creative endeavors: YEAH! is a social design brand that makes quality products. not a quality products brand that is trying to figure out how to implement a social strategy. The Flashdance is a creative collaboration whose disparate elements complement each other to form new approaches previously unheard of. Antonia oversees it all as the formidable godfather figure who pushes his collaborators to increase their notion of “best” by five notches, yet maintains an effortless candor in his relationships and a spring in his step as he dashes from project to project.

The Flashdance now houses 7 companies and covers nearly every aspect of event production, whether it be furniture and props from YEAH! Rentals, photo/video/design from YEAH! Weddings, / venue space from Office/Party or a damn good Flashdance DJ. Antonia stays closely involved as the creative director and marketing expert, while also finding time to keep his DJing sharp as ever and get his music obsession fix working as music supervisor for the Ace Hotel.

Antonia has been featured in Paper Magazine, NPR Marketplace, Reverie Magazine, Apartment Therapy, Remodelista, Herman Miller’s blog, Refinery 29, 100 Layer Cake and Martha Stewart Weddings and has made appearances on E! & Bravo.

Has it been a smooth road?
Hahahahahaha. No.

I dunno if it is any one thing… this shit is hard. growing and expanding the businesses, diversifying into unchartered waters, managing a staff, and staying motivated everyday is a challenge, to say the least. overhead is high, and I am not a trained business person at all. instinct and common sense have been my only reliable tools… they have been pretty good to me, but it’s certainly not a bulletproof strategy.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the The Flashdance / YEAH! Rentals / YEAH! Weddings / YEAH! Furniture / Office Party story. Tell us more about the business.
I have always been a hustler. When I was 9 or 10 years old I had a little bike shop in my basement and I would build bikes from scrap parts and sell them to the older kids. When they broke them, I’d buy them back for pennies on the dollar and flip them again. I had 2-3 paper routes, I mowed lawns in the summer, shoveled driveways in the winter, ever industrious! I took that money and bought records, thousands, and thousands of records because I’ve also always been an obsessive music collector. Soon after college, I learned that I could make money playing records and I never looked back, but that wasn’t enough, I also produced dance nights, parties, concerts, small corporate events and later graduated to producing multi-million dollar marketing initiatives for fortune 500 companies. In those days I DJed a lot. Sometimes up to 4-5 days for corporate stuff AND 4-5 nights a week in clubs. I was lucky enough to play with everyone from Pearl Jam and Grandmaster Flash to Daft Punk and Diplo, but it wasn’t all jam packed nights with amazing artists, I was grinding it out on the club/festival circuit for five years in New York and five years before that in Seattle. In that time I was surrounded by drugged out club owners, back stabbing “colleagues”, and audiences who thought way more of radio pop than they did of the craft of being a turntablist… plus, the money and hours, were terrible. Instead of making another slight course correction to navigate my life into tolerable waters, I just crashed the ship and swam away.

I never meant to be a wedding DJ, I fought pretty hard against it in the beginning… but as it turns out I’m pretty good at it. In 2007 I moved to LA without knowing a soul, during the worst financial crisis in recorded history, my wife was pregnant and I needed a job so I applied my experiences and talent to possibly the most undesirable (to me at that time) career ever, turns out that it was the best decision I ever made. I saw a wide open lane in the wedding industry, wedding DJs were (mostly) dorks who said stupid shit on the mic, wore terrible suits and played the world’s worst music ever, or they were real DJs too ashamed to actually advertise that they were, in fact, wedding DJs. So I set out to change people’s perspective and bring something fresh to it.

Even though I went into it kicking and screaming, I found that the wedding/event industry employs some of the most talented, funny, creative, sharp, and most importantly NICEST people I have ever met! Before I knew this, I built my own new professional network by pulling from my past lives in events, film, marketing, and advertising. So from the start, we were marketing to professionals and artists from outside the wedding world. From the beginning we have strived to make something funny, something authentic, something against the grain, but first and foremost… something FUN! We have been fortunate enough to find like-minded artists to collaborate with who are ambitious and creatively adventurous many of whom are repped on this website, so I feel truly honored just to be a part of it all.

I can’t really say enough about how many ways this industry continues to change my perspective and my life, not to mention how gratifying the experience of bringing some of my people up from frustrated artists to successful entrepreneurs has been. By joining this diverse community of professionals in the wedding world, I am surrounded by extremely talented, warm, people who have amazing families, who are down to help and collaborate, who are genuinely excited about life, who like to have a really good time, who I count among my closest friends.

It still makes me feel funny to say I am a wedding DJ at a dinner party, but it makes me feel pretty awesome to say that I own four companies, work with my best friends, and make people TRULY happy every weekend. It makes me feel insanely good about myself to set that example for my kids. I can’t even express how blessed I feel that my wife can be with our children in the day (and not at some miserable corp job) and we are all together at least 5-6 evenings a week. All this while I make a living creating art that I am incredibly proud of, and to have the support of my peers and fans that are so open minded.

I would have never chosen this career, but I’m so grateful it chose me.

YEAH! rentals
YEAH! rentals / YEAH! Furniture is an LA / SF / Palm Springs based furniture and props rental house specializing in mid century modern, industrial & cosmic desert design. We believe that if you are going to rent furniture for your event / party / meeting that it should be beautiful, that it should say something about you, that it should align with your brand… We build or source all of our furniture with that in mind. I have been obsessed with interior and industrial design my whole life… I have always had the living space that everyone envied, I have always driven classic cars, and design is always the first thing I notice. When I was young and producing concerts, events, and parties the only furniture available to rent was glowing lexan cubes, white patent leather furniture and everything looked like it came from a 1990’s danceclub. I set out to change that and as it turns out there are a lot of people who see things the same way.

YEAH! Weddings is a collective of Photographers, Videographers, Dj’s and a photobooth company.
We’re here to make sure the best day of your life is actually the best day of your life. YOU CAN GET ALL THESE CREATIVES BUNDLED UP IN A PACKAGE DEAL FOR $10K. HOW GREAT IS THAT?

Office/Party is our newest endeavor. It is a creative office and event space designed by Project M+, Shark Pig, and YEAH! Rentals in the burgeoning Eastside LA neighborhood of Highland Park.
We value the strength of collaboration and, as such, have set out to design and create a communal office, an event space, and a gathering place for creative thinkers. We just broke ground but will be open by March 1.

Contact Info:

austin green_daybed james_moes_-_ace_hotel_palm_springs michael_antonia thecream2016_02 picture9
Image Credit:
james moes matt miller jennifer emerling

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