The Low L.A. Dee Da Life | 20th Anniversary Edition | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

The Low L.A. Dee Da Life 

A kaleidoscopic history of the L.A. scene based on our readers’ votes for the Top 20 clubs (listed in vaguely chronological order), from 1978 to 1998

In August 1980, the Weekly launched L.A. Dee Da. "The place to dig if you’re looking for dirt," wrote Pleasant Gehman, its first columnist, "the place to scan if you’re looking for a scoop, hot flashes for cold action, etc. . . " Over the years, Pleasant, Marci Marks, Craig Lee, Bruce D. Rhodewalt, Shelly da Cunha, Kim Jones and Belissa Cohen, among others, scoured the streets and combed the clubs to dish the do on the hip and the haps. L.A. Dee Da gave up the gossip ghost in 1993 and was revived in 1995 as The Low Life by Tina Fez (nom de plume of Weekly staffer Libby Molyneaux), with J.V. McAuley (briefly) and Kateri Butler subsequently digging the dirt.

1. The Masque

The last vestiges of the Masque, L.A.’s seminal punk-rock club, founded by Brendan Mullen, were about to be painted over — to the surprise of many who crowded a-gawking into the labyrinthine basement of the Hollywood Center Building, amazed to discover that the graffiti-inscribed walls had survived 19 years unchanged. Battered punk survivors of the Hollywood Class of ’77, catching a final glimpse, mingled with a surprisingly young contingent of post-slacker-era lookie-loos paying tribute to the sepulchral club–rehearsal space–crash pad–hangout that ignited L.A.’s version of the last great pre-cyber, pre-MTV international underground youth movement. Such is the mystique of the Masque, which ruled for six months through the beginning of ’78, that if all the people who claim they were there had really been there, they would have filled the Palladium.

The Low Life, June 21, 1996

(Kateri Butler)

2. Starwood

We decamped and went to the Starwood to see Stiv Bators & The Deadboys, who were great, and Geza X, whom we missed. The Starwood was really jumping. Milling around in the parking lot were hundreds of kids, and upstairs in the "chic" balcony were the likes of Jimmy and Clem from Blondie, Great Buildings’ bassist Ian Ainsworth, and the illustrious Kim Fowley, towering imposingly over everyone’s heads. Checked out the disco, and Rodney was surrounded by a gaggle of giggling girls and spinning the new Industrials album. In the meantime, drama was running high backstage when Bebe Buell, Stiv’s old squeeze, on the arm of another man and looking kinda frumpy in a black peasant dress à la Joan Baez, was trying to get her honey back, but Stiv didn’t seem too amused . . . better luck next time Beeb . . .

L.A. Dee Da, September 5, 1980

(Pleasant Gehman)

3. Anti-Club

Up the Anti: Talk about credentials. It’s no wonder the Anti-Club has become the most adventurous and popular "new" venue in town. There are not one but three impresarios responsible: There’s Jack Marquette, whose previous credits include that infamous early-’80s downtown art bar called the Brave Dog . . . There’s Russell Jessum, who helped begin the whole scene at the Anti-Club when it was still a mariachi bar six years ago . . . And there’s Jim Van Tyne, whose monthly "Theoretical" parties at changing venues around the city have won him an absolutely loyal following of partiers and performers . . .

Getting There column, February 15, 1985

(Gloria Ohland)

4. Al’s Bar

The music party is over at Al’s Bar. The club’s police permit for live music expired and hasn’t been renewed, partly due to the whining and bitching of irate neighbors who couldn’t possibly tolerate any noise invading their illegal but sanctified "creation" spaces. An interesting comment on the situation was the blue line an anonymous artist drew down the street, dividing it into "art" and "life" segments. Even though Al’s tried to test the situation by having Jerry Sikorski play last weekend, six plainclothesmen showed up and the music was stopped. We hope Al’s owner, Mark Kreisel, can solve the bar’s music problems soon. The place may not be that big in size, but in terms of giving new bands the needed room to expand and experiment, it’s essential. Meanwhile, a quiet Al’s remains open for non-musical business.

L.A. Dee Da, August 20, 1982

(Craig Lee, Pleasant Gehman,

Bruce D. Rhodewalt and Marci Marks)

5. Theoretical

The biggest deal this week was the phenomenal success of Theoretical last Sunday. This afternoon party/show (at a secret leather-bar location described by its owner Michael as "left on Hoover, right into your life") featured the best set we’ve ever seen Red Wedding do . . . Also appearing were Age of Consent, who drew howls of recognition from the audience, and the Hesitations, a sweetly cracked duo made up of Priscilla B. and Mary Mullen . . . The intense energy of the place rivalled the best nights at the Masque, Hong Kong or Brave Dog. Fuck those auditoriums, theaters and bowls; it’s the hot, smoky hole-in-the-wall gigs that are still the best . . .

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