Nightclubs and Nightlife in Los Angeles

There are a few places in the world that draw the nighttime crowds that Los Angeles does. It’s the variety of people and clubs that brings out the most interesting people. From local blue collar workers looking to relax after a hard days work, to A-list celebrities looking to be seen, or to those looking to see, L.A. has it all.

And as one would expect, a city like Los Angeles has a ton of super hip and happening clubs that are all the rage, for a minute or so. The popularity of clubs waxes and wanes just as quickly as Hollywood’s latest starlet begins to fade into a distant memory. So use the following nightclub and nightlife guide as a general guide, but be prepared to find that the club of the moment has once again gone the way of the dinosaur and it may be another month or two before it once again becomes the happening hot spot where people wait in line for admittance.

If you’re a visitor to L.A. and took a flight in, you may want to avoid the upscale dance club and lounge, Airliner. Its aeronautical theme brings out the jet set and the banging dance floor keeps them up and moving. The plush lounge lets you relax in comfort that just can’t be found in first class. Expect to hear some of the best local DJs and on some nights you’ll even be treated to live music. As with most of the uber trendy nightclubs, Airliner has a dress code and wont let you in if you’re slumming it in a baseball hat or sneakers, but you’ll probably want to get even more dressed up as this is one place to go star gazing.

One club that has actually stood the test of time is Arena. This ginormous warehouse style club has been around for decades and its key to survival is its flexibility. Everyone can find a night that suits their personal style. The two upstairs rooms feature a hip-hop and a salsa club while the main floor has theme nights throughout the week. Thursdays are dubbed HEAT and special guests make appearances while the crowd gets some give-aways. Fridays are Hollywood Live where gogo girls parade about doing what gogo girls do. Saturdays is Boy’s Night with drag queen Brenda’s Show. Sunday is a very unique night where a strict dress code is enforced, Its Noche de Bandas nights where no sneakers and caps are allowed but total cowboy get up is encouraged. Families are welcome as long as an adult is present.

Saints and Sinners is a different type of nightclub, it’s for the serious cocktail lover as opposed to the dancing queens and Hollywood hopefuls. This bar is an excellent spot for the post work crowd looking to unwind in an incredibly tacky atmosphere. With a circular fireplace as the focal point and a buttoned-vinyl ceiling this place screams 70’s chic and caters to those who respect the laid back glam of yesteryear, it’s also popular with those who enjoy a stiff drink.

Waitress serving drinks

If you’re more interested in star gazing than anything else, then The Kids Cotton Club is the current hot spot, one so hot in fact that Lindsay Lohan was denied access. A throw back to the 1920’s jazz scene in New York, The Kids Cotton Club looks to have the finest jazz, rhythm and blues and rock music every Sunday. As noted, not everyone gets in the door so make sure you’re dressed in your Sunday best. Men are required to wear ties and women will feel most comfortable in a dress. But once in the doors you’re bound to enjoy the experience.

For a very unique experience consider boarding the Queen Mary and heading to Vamp the Lounge. It’s a dance club with great drinks and a burlesque show. That’s right, a burlesque show. Something totally unusual and really spectacular when you realize you’re aboard the Queen Mary. In fact you can spend an entire evening touring the Queen Mary and drinking all the way. The Observation Bar offers incredible sunset views and many fine spirits as well as some amazing artwork. While Tibbies Cabaret lets you dine and delight in their Broadway-cabaret style show. For real fine dining, Sir Winston’s Restaurant serves up delectable delights and superb service. Semi-formal attire is required and you’ll be glad you’ve made reservations. And for those who stay past the sunset and have a few drinks in them, perhaps a ghost sighting will be the highlight of the evening as the Queen Mary is reportedly a ghostly hotspot.

For another all-in-one nightclub experience, try The Kress. This venue stretches up five stories and boasts more than 38,800 square feet. The restaurant features Executive Chef Troy N. Thompson, known worldwide for his culinary creations. While the basement lounge bounces with liver entertainment and a dance floor, the third floor is a banquet hall that can accommodate almost anything, and the rooftop is decorated with cabanas and a striking 360 degree view of all of Los Angeles. The truly impressive aspect of The Kress is its willingness to pay homage to its history in a time when most people want to tear down the past and rebuild a character-less modern structure. The Kress was originally S.H. Kress & Co., a traditional American dime-store. The building has been completely renovated and once again features the original art deco style of the 1930’s along with an original marble staircase, brass railing and the ornate Italian designed ceiling and façade. After the Kress store faded into history, Frederick’s of Hollywood took over the venue, The Kress also pays homage to Frederick’s by having their signature designed uniforms on the establishment’s dancers and cocktail waitresses.

Remember as you plan your evening schedule for Los Angeles, what’s in one minute may be out by the time your cab reaches the front door. Pay attention to tabloids if you truly want to be seen and see the A-list celebs. If that’s not important, then go for a venue that suits your needs, personality and your goals for the evening. Whatever it is you want, L.A. is bound to have it.

photo credit: BigStockPhoto/goinyk