"Much more than a DIY haven, The Smell is one of LA's most queer-friendly spaces," writes Artemis Thomas-Hansard in 2016 for the music publication Noisey. Though Los Angeles is commonly understood to be one of the epicenters of LGBT activism with it’s famously queer-friendly neighborhoods like West Hollywood, Silver Lake, and Los Feliz, queer-identifying and questioning youth have had few options for community spaces. The Smell, which has remained a an all-ages drug and alcohol-free venue since its inception in 1998, has offered queer youth a welcoming home to explore their sexual, creative, and artistic identities.
The Smell was founded by Ara Shirinyan, Jarett Silberman, and Jim Smith in response to the closing of two local venues Jabberjaw and the Impala Cafe. IT was opened shortly after their demise in 1998 and originally located in North Hollywood bfore relocating to a cheaper venue in Downtown Los Angeles.
Inland Empire's premier neon color booty shorts queer dance punk band, Frisco Dykes, formed in the middle of an era that brought ugly chugga metal to the mainstream. Paul Roque of Frisco Dykes credits The Smell for “inspiring the work he does today to help queer artists showcase talent they may not feel comfortable sharing elsewhere” (Thomas-Hansard 2016).