LA is known for hush-hush hideaways where only the well connected and wealthy find entertainment and 2013 proved to be quite the year for a few of these local high-profile watering holes. Standards for being what we may consider to be “totally LA” are most certainly a speak easy-esque appeal, no signage, guest list requirement, expensive bills, celebrity sightings, and let’s be honest, sex drugs and rock n roll. For me, most of this list makes feel completely out of my relaxed West Side element, but having (positively) experienced most of the places that made it on to this list, I can say with confidence it absolutely does not get any more LA than these hot spots. With a slight eye roll and yet a touch of pride, I present to you the most “LA” places of 2013:
I have to be honest, I personally have not yet experienced this place. Why? Because it sounds fucking terrifying that’s why. Sanctum is based on two things: S&M and sex. I’m not necessarily prude or shy but there’s something slightly freaky about a club with a nightly sex show. Oh you’re interested in going are you? Good luck because it’s invitation only! You have a better chance if you are a girl: as they say on their website, “beautiful single ladies may enter on our guest list, tell us about yourself and send us a full length picture here.” Ew. My judgement aside this place is one hot freakin commodity in this town. I’ve heard stories from a friend who has gone and reported back that it is unlike any experience you’ll ever have; sex, whips, people on leashes and all. Do with that what you will!
2. Dirty Laundry
I just visited this establishment for the first time last weekend and I have to admit, for being sickeningly “LA”, it was actually very cool. It felt pretentious sure, but not as pretentious as I was honestly expecting. This is a celebrity favorite as it’s the perfect place to hide in the comforts of a dark corner. First of all, it’s a speak easy under a freakin apartment building. There is no sign, just a black gate with a door man, and several people waiting to enter the basement below. Once you walk in you find yourself in an incredibly dark room with very low ceilings (fellow claustrophobics start drinking immediately). Once you wind around the bar you are presented with several open doorways, that lead to several other dark open doorways, that lead to more open doorways… you get the point. I was fortunate enough to enjoy the night with friends who knew the DJ, so somehow we ended up at a private table in a private room dancing to Michael Jackson and The Knife, but truthfully this is what made the experience, having the chance to experience Dirty Laundry to its full potential and for once feeling “way too cool for school”. This isn’t the most impossible place to get into out of the bunch, just like any popular place get there in a timely manner and you’re fine, but get there too late and the place gets packed. It then becomes the bar where two people leave, then two people can go in; of course as models and people with “uninterested” facial expressions glide right past you and the rest of the line.
3. No Vacancy
No Vacancy is all I’ve been hearing about this year, everyone is curious and wants to find out what the buzz is all about. And those of us who have been to this unique and intriguing business know there’s valid reason for the hype; No Vacancy is unlike any bar in LA, as a friend of mine simply explained, “you walk in, and it’s sexy.” Here’s how it works. First make a reservation (if you don’t expect a very long wait), walk in to find a dirty looking hotel where only one door opens where you find a very attractive girl in lingerie laying on a bed who exclaims something along the lines of, “oh my I wasn’t expecting anyone”. You are then told the rules and upon your acception, the bed opens up (yes legit opens like a Disney ride) and you walk down the secret stair well into a gorgeous, glamorous, Victorian 3 story house. Expect to be amazed. Oh and did I mention there are acrobats and tight rope walkers in the backyard?
4. Beacher’s Madhouse
This is the one place on the list that guarantees the celebrity draw just about every night. What doesn’t sound as crazy and ridiculous as a place that provides entertainment involving flying oompa-loompas, trannies, midgets (their words not mine!), and the most confusing yet fantastic variety show you’ve EVER seen? You walk in with no idea WTF to think besides, “WTF”. It’s kind of like a fancy, freak circus really? So of course everyone who is anyone enjoys the madness (literally and figuratively) that is Beacher’s Madhouse. Don’t forget to make a reservation and don’t forget your entire savings account, but definitely expect a good time and a night unlike any other you’ve ever had in LA.
5. Soho House
This one is an oldie but a goodie. Soho House hasn’t changed much over the past few years but it’s still one of the most exclusive and hottest places to go out in LA. The appeal stems from its general sense of unattainability; to enter to you must be a member ($$$$$) or you must know/accompany a member. If you’re lucky enough to make it in prepare to be awe-struck over the incredible 360 view of LA, the gorgeous and glamorous decor, and of course the countless amount of celebrity sightings. Last time I was there, I spotted at least 6 celebs in just that one visit. This is certainly the place for the A-list to come and be casual, it’s definitely more of a relaxed enviroment in comparison to say, Beacher’s Madhouse. SoHo House clearly has some staying power and successfully reigns as Queen on the list of some of the most “LA” places.
Honorable Mentions: Caña, Honeycut, Emerson Theater, Bootsy Bellows, Blind Barber, The Church Key, Warwick, The Varnish, Lock and Key, Next Door Lounge