By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Outside the city itself, there’s Club Capricein Redondo Beach, a large, low-slung affair that frequently offers touring name talent, while Hermosa Beach’s Lighthouse, which was a jazz hotspot for decades, still pumps out the jazz (legendary horn man Conte Candoli appears there occasionally), along with rock and reggae; San Gabriel’s Brave Bullis an underappreciated midsize room where stellar oldies, blues and Latin rockers often recall past glories. There are country spots gone rock, such as Signal Hill’s Foothill, an almost totally intact old-time C&W dance hall. One of the most beautiful clubs in the entire county, with a huge Western-night-sky mural behind one of the longest bars around and strategically hung oil portraits of Coast country stalwarts such as the Collins Kids, Hank Thompson and Johnny Western, it’s preserved down to the last stick of furniture — even the tables and chairs are original issue. Downey’s Dixie Belle, all dark wood paneling and cheesecake art, maintains its New Orleans atmosphere with well-kept style (and the adjoining bar and shuffleboard room always has a few interesting locals to jaw with). The Culver Saloon, another hillbilly joint gone rock, also exudes down-home country geniality.
Now, the straight-ahead country joints are well worth consideration; a journey into the dark and winding backhills of Kagel Canyon leads one to the Hideaway. For decades, it’s been the only club for miles around and boasts one of the most beautiful curving bars you’ll ever see (and what has got to be the biggest set of mounted longhorns ever wrenched from a steer’s skull). With an expansive outdoor patio and a huge stone barbecue, Sunday afternoons here really get going; the room has just been expanded and renovated, with ambitious plans for the future. Out Duarte way, Dorothy’s Stage Stopis a classic ’tonk — flickering neon, dim lights, loud music and a happy crew of mature Bacchanalians. Chatsworth’s Cowboy Palace Saloonis cheery, all blond wood, bedecked with flags and beer signs, a hitching post for your pony and a collection of dance-crazy locals who really concentrate on living it up. Crazy Jack’sin Burbank, which made headlines in 1996 when the owner challenged (and beat, mostly) the smoking ban, is another big, dark play room that features a mural so preposterously executed as to be mesmerizing. A history of popular music, presumably, the mural hosts figures with strange, distorted features — trying to figure out who’s who remains an endlessly fascinating pastime (okay, there’s Sinatra, that’s Streisand . . . is that Bobby Darin or Jimmy Durante?).
Ultimately, the nightclub, with its seductive offer of physically realized dreams, stands as the reigning sociocultural, psycho-sexual metaphor in contemporary Western civilization. The lines of order, so well defined elsewhere, blur to inconsequence, encouraging the regressive beast within to prowl openly. Nightclubs serve by their simple lack of limits, the same gift of disimprisonment that has driven rock & roll since its earliest days. In the clubs, nobody tells you what to do, nobody cares what you do, and everybody does just exactly as they please. High time to turn off your TV and make the scene.
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