There’s something to be said for a party that is still going strong after seventeen years.

That party is La Mona, a gathering in Paris paying tribute not only to house music but also its passion for the art of dance. Waacking, Voguing and House dance styles that were birthed on many a dancefloor are celebrated first with a free class at the start of the night. The parties are welcoming, lively and colorful. While in Paris this past March, I hit up Nick Vu-Hoang, aka Nick V, the founder of La Mona and a resident DJ. Over coffee we had a nice long chat about his party and the secrets to its longevity.

The amazing photos from La Mona for this piece are by David Volants

La Mona Paris, Photo by David Volants
La Mona Paris, Photo by David Volants

—It was such a pleasure meeting you in Paris! I’d love to revisit what we had talked about. The one thing that surprised me most was that you’re originally from Manchester. Can you tell us about your beginnings there?

Nick V: I was born there, albeit a long time ago now (1970), and lived there for 17 years. My parents are not English (French-Vietnamese) but they lived there for a long time, my upbringing was multicultural but my school education was English and definitely my musical education.

People love music in Manchester and during the days I lived there, in the ’70s and ’80s, there were many different styles that had their own fashions: punk, disco, reggae, dub and then indie, new romantics, hip hop, electro… With time dance music became more and more intertwined with the band scene. I remember the record shops always being very vibrant and as teenagers we would often swap records and tapes. Electro and hip hop was a big thing in the mid ’80s with the Streetsounds compilations, breakdancers, perms and Sergio Tacchini tracksuits.

La Mona Paris, Photo by David Volants
La Mona Paris, Photo by David Volants

But the great thing about the ’80s was that there was always something new bubbling and about to happen, and that’s how house music came into my life whilst listening to DJ Stu Allen play on the local radio station Piccadilly in 1987. Stu started to introduce house music into the last hour of his Sunday night soul and hip hop show called Souled Out and Buss Dis, he would play the records, mainly imports from Chicago and Detroit, but also talk about the nights and the dance crews in the local clubs. This was before the Haçienda took off as a house music venue in Manchester and before the rave scene started, but house had already arrived in the North of the UK and it was essentially part of the Black community first.

—What made you move to Paris?

Nick V: My parents always had plans to move back to France as all their family lived there including the Vietnamese side. I would have loved to have stayed in England, I loved it there, but I was too young to stay on my own of course. Moving to France was quite a sudden change, finding new friends, learning French properly and adapting to a different school system. Music and youth culture was very different from the UK where music trends become rapidly popular and spread to all parts of society, France is a much more conservative country (not in the political sense but in terms of cultural tradition). People weren’t as bothered with what was new and coming up, like they were in the UK.

But the good thing about France is that there is a strong immigrant community from Africa, North Africa and the Caribbean with music and dance prevailing as a consequence. When I arrived in late 1987, house music hadn’t yet really hit France, but there was a great soul, funk and disco scene and French hip hop was really growing. It took some time for house music to take hold in France but there were some really cool places that played it, mainly gay clubs such as La Luna or Le Boy, and also raves that popped up out of nowhere. Those were really fun days!

La Mona Paris, Photo by David Volants
La Mona Paris, Photo by David Volants

—Tell us about how you first conceptualized the La Mona parties. I love how democratized you’ve made the dance element in your events. Oftentimes we only see the most advanced dancers doing the hardest of things in recap videos. Whereas with your parties it is a mix of everyone having a great time!

Nick V: A club environment should not be too insular and exclusive to allow for different people to mix and come together, that’s how La Mona has always been set up. At the same time if you want to spread a positive message and use dance as a medium for this, which is the essence of a house music night, it’s important to make sure that dance remains practiced and performed with respect for the roots and culture behind it. This is why we always start the night with a dance class which brings dance to the crowd, and they give it back to the party as the night goes on. The classes are for all and any beginner can join easily, it’s more about sharing positive energy and spreading a good vibe than actually learning with precision. At the classes we are basically laying down the foundations of the party to come.

The dances are the ones birthed in clubs and come from US Black culture such as Voguing, Waacking, House Dance, Hustle, Jazz Rock (a Parisian dance inspired by jazz and funk dancers from the ’70s and ’80s).


5 Mag Issue 214
Out May 2024

LIVE ALIVE: This was originally published in 5 Mag Issue #214 featuring Seven Davis, Jr, Nick V and the long-running Paris residency La Mona, Chicago’s viral Elevator Music, DJ Rush and more. Become a member for $2/month and get every issue in your inbox right away!


—Was it hard to maintain the party for so many years, or did you find there was always an audience for it? How has it grown?

Nick V: It started quite small to begin with as people were more used to coming to a club to see a DJ than to actually dance — this was back in 2008-2010. But it became bigger with time as we were simply putting dance back into the clubs, so things began to grow in a natural way. It also picked up really well because in any case Paris, and France in general, is a place where dance, especially dance and music coming from US Black culture, is really big, again thanks to the big immigrant community here. I was also lucky to meet some great dancers who have helped me such as Tiger Saint Laurent who works for La Mona today. We had a DJ booking policy alternating between local talent and confirmed international artists, so more and more people started to turn up and as a consequence we had to change for a bigger venue, La Bellevilloise.

La Mona Paris, Photo by David Volants
La Mona Paris, Photo by David Volants

It’s not always been easy to maintain the party for so many years (nearly 17) as people get older and you have to renew interest in a music form that is now well into its 40th year. The rise of social media really helped us spread the word at the start but its ever changing and high performing content requirement has turned it into quite a time consuming challenge nowadays. So it’s all about making adjustments, adapting to social trends and to how young people live their lives, at the same time we strive to stay true to the original message of house music culture, which is bringing people together and promoting openness regardless of differences. House music is the original form of electronic music so as long as people gather in clubs to dance to electronic music, house music will always be celebrated.

—Tell us a little about your style of playing and what you enjoy?

Nick V: I grew up discovering DJ mixes on air or on tape without actually seeing the DJs play and spending time working out how the magic of long tight blends or short well timed cuts was created. I still have the sound of all those mixes printed out clearly in my mind so I guess my style is close to that old school way of DJing, I still play a lot of vinyl and I enjoy using a rotary mixer for those smoother house mixes. However I also appreciate faders for a more dynamic mixing style that was popular at the start of house music when DJs would cross over from hip hop. I’m still quite influenced by that way of mixing which keeps the crowd on its toes with short blends at the right moment that maintain a high level of energy on the floor.

La Mona Paris, Photo by David Volants
La Mona Paris, Photo by David Volants

Style-wise, La Mona is essentially a house music party and I play the more soulful and deeper sound as I love the rich emotions that house music can convey, but I like to move things around during my sets, playing house at around 124 bpm and pitching things up to move into disco or techno territory before coming back down again. There is so much to choose from within the house spectrum, but I like to mix up classic and new stuff, playing beats and throwing in accapellas over instrumental tracks to create different versions. The mix for 5 Mag was actually recorded at La Mona at the start of the night on Saturday April 13 2024, the dance class had just finished and people were really getting into their groove!

Outside of the clubs I also enjoy playing non house sets with a broader soulful dance base spanning across jazz, disco, funk but also African or North African, Latin, Caribbean, Italian, Brazilian … I still buy a lot of records and love getting new music pushed to me. I think record shop sales people love me as I’m quite an easy customer to convince.

Don't Stay In 💌

Get on our guest list for news from 5 Mag and you'll never miss a thing. It's free and we don't sell your shit. ✅

—When are the next parties? Plug away for our readers coming to Paris!

Nick V: La Mona is a monthly party so you can find me in Paris on a regular basis. The last one was actually 4th May with Jamie 3:26 from Chicago coming to play and a Waacking dance contest at the start of the night. We’ve actually had quite a few US DJs over the past few years such as Victor Simonelli, Pal Joey, Mike Agent X Clark, Karizma, Mike Huckaby, Michael Serafini, Tevo Howard, Jovonn, Garrett David, Kai Alce, Rahaan or Daniel Wang.

June 8 saw the end of the Mona party season with a celebration of 40 years of house music. During the summer months La Mona will be giving dance classes that will be followed by jams with DJs on Wednesday evenings at Mazette.

La Mona Paris, Photo by David Volants
La Mona Paris, Photo by David Volants

I am also working on Volume 3 of the House Of Riviera compilation that is dedicated to the golden age of Italian house in the early ’90s to be released on my label Mona Musique.

If any readers are coming to Paris please get in touch and say you have read the article and I will be happy to invite you to one of my nights.

There’s more inside 5 Mag’s member’s section — get first access to each issue for a few bucks a month.