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Stars and Bars 

A night lover’s guide to party spots

Thursday, Nov 13 2003
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Photo by Debra DiPaolo

Throwing a successful soiree can be satisfying, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth all the stress and mess. There’s the worrying about who doesn’t get along with whom and who’ll be offended if they aren’t invited, plus providing music, food and drink (cocktails can get expensive, but keggers are a little too high school). And let’s not forget the aftermath of allowing pals — and, if it’s a rager, many strangers — into your home, which can get you clogged toilets, broken or stolen stuff, and pissed-off neighbors. It’s just so much easier to take the mayhem to a bar or club.

Suddenly, the pressure to play hostess is off you and onto the establishment. You can invite everyone. Drink — and in some cases food — is taken care of, and heck, people will buy you cocktails instead of the other way around. And most importantly, your cozy abode isn’t invaded and destroyed by the drunken revelers you call friends.

What follows is a list of nightspots — from the glitzy joints where Hollywood’s elite (and even more wannabes) throw their shindigs to the real down-and-dirty sure-fire hits to the latest hangs. Party on!

Swanky and/or Skanky

White Lotus: Since this exotic oasis (can you believe it used to be the Crush Bar?) opened its doors, it’s been a white haute magnet for the celeb set. But if you’re just an average Joe/Jane who wants to celebrate here, make a dinner reservation early (the high-priced menu features sushi and Asian cuisine), and you’ll avoid the model and Euro-trash monster mash at the velvet-roped entrance, which, unless you’re Ashton Kutcher, is a torturous wait.

1743 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 463-0060

The Lounge: This place may never live down the infamous Britney-Justin “dance-off” (hell, it was even re-enacted by Matt Damon on Saturday Night Live), but with topnotch DJs and promoters, it’s still got the makings of a slammin’ bash. Just don’t get too tipsy or you might be seen staggering behind some TV star on E!’s Celebrities Uncensored. The stalkerazzi camp out here.

9077 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 888-8811

Forty Deuce: Who doesn’t want to see some skin at their birthday or bachelor party? Deuce (from the dude behind Deep) is the purr-fect place for the latter, especially if your bride has issues with a full-on nasty strip club. Burlesque-style grinders dance and prance about the stage and along the bar-cum-runway while a live combo busts out old-timey beats. Of course, you gotta be someone — or have some bucks — for the good seats.

5574 Melrose Ave., (323) 465-4242

Hollywood Men at Arena: Until somebody comes up with a strip show featuring lanky tattooed rocker pretty boys, this is where the ladies in L.A. will go for their man candy. Formerly at 7969, the parade of packages now pops up at Arena, and even if you’re not into the beefcake type, this night’s a blast. Bring earplugs — it’s a real scream fest!

6655 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, (818) 845-6636

The Standard (downtown): A warning to those who think girlie-drinks don’t pack a punch — the giant Apple-tinis here are downright dangerous. They may be pricey, but a couple of these deceptively sweet sippers and you may not remember the gorgeous view of the downtown office buildings that encompass the place or the groovy 2001-like décor or, uh, canoodling with some fella in one of the waterbed pod thingies, and, yikes, splashing around in the buff in the wonderfully warm and shallow swimming pool. Just remember not to go on a weekend if you actually want to get in.

550 S. Flower St., downtown, (213) 892-8080

Hollywood Athletic Club: You’ll have a gay ol’ time at Tigerheat, the pop-o-rama dance club that takes over HAC on Thursdays. Bring your straight guy and/or music-snob friends and watch them let loose — or writhe in discomfort — as hot shirtless hunks from BoyU.com hump and bump to Christina Aguilera and Beyoncé.

6525 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 462-6262

The Parlour: WeHo’s most original array of party-worthy themed promotions happen here (the homo hijinks of Hot Dog and Dirty Dirty House Club, for example), but it’s Vaginal Davis’ Roaring ’20s–themed soiree called Bricktops that takes hedonistic hell-raising to a whole new level, substituting the sultry decadence of jazz and Parisian Café society–style repartee for the high-decibel drone-and-bone of the modern rock club. Even the vivacious Bibbe Hansen (Beck’s mom) celebrated her b-day here.

7702 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 650-7968

Saddle Ranch Chop House: Yeah, it’s jock-dude hell on the weekends, but come by on a weeknight, hunker down over a humongous plate o’ grub and some big brewskis among the theme-park-like décor, and you might start to appreciate the Ranch’s kitschy charm. Okay, it’s really all about ridin’ the mechanical bull, and if it’s good enough for the gals on Sex and the City, it’s good enough for us.

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