Anyone who’s had to make that mortifying Monday-morning walk of shame back into work after a booze-fueled employee-gone-wild moment at the holiday office party or summer company barbecue will probably agree that sometimes business and pleasure just aren’t worth mixing, no matter how much mixer is around. This seems to be changing, though, especially with a few high-profile companies turning their office spaces into party pits complete with DJs, bands and a who’s who of invitees. We mentioned catching the new Joy Division documentary and a DJ set by Peter Hook at Zune’s groovy events space on Beverly a couple of columns ago, but the former photographer’s studio is actually more than that. By day, it’s a working office for some of Microsoft’s trendiest techies.
Similarly, 944 magazine’s colorful workspace on Sunset Boulevard looks more like a club than a newsroom, and they get good use out of it too, hosting fashion shows, liquor-sponsored issue-launch bashes and the like. (Now that L.A. Weekly’s moved from Hollywood to Culver City, guess our fantasy about turning the old art-production area into a strobe-light-speckled discothèque will remain just that.) So, the Nightranger award for coolest office space cum hot spot goes to Nettwerk Records’ SYNC Lounge in Hollywood. The label HQ doesn’t take on its nightclub guise as frequently as its Vancouver, Canada, one, but we hear more regular live shows are always in the “werks,” and after our visit a couple of weeks ago, we’re sure we’ll be returning. The li’l room has great acoustics, and the stage setup spotlights the acts that play there quite nicely; at least it did when the enchanting Uh Huh Her played a few weeks ago in advance of their forthcoming Nettwerk release Common Reaction. Admittedly, we’re huge fans of Uh Huh’s Leisha Hailey, also an actress who plays our favorite character on Showtime’s The L Word, spunky bisexual journo Alice Pieszecki. (Fun fact: In an early episode, she was working on a story for “the Weekly”!) We also love her in those Yoplait “So Good” commercials. But star-shine aside, the captivating and atmospheric electropop music she and band mate Camila Grey shared vox and keyboard duties on was infused with both dark and light undertones, catchy choruses and plenty of charisma. Definitely worthy of their PJ Harvey–inspired moniker but not derivative of her. They’re good. Dare we say it? Getting-a-foot-massage-while-shoe-shopping (for chocolate-covered heels) good.
Sometimes there’s just too much to do out there. Thursdays are already the most cutthroat nights in hipsterville — Dance Right at La Cita, A Club Called Rhonda at Guatelinda (so popular, it just went weekly), Pash at the Room, and The Heist at Florentine Gardens all compete for the best haircut hordes. But the night before Independence Day? Fuggedaboutit. Something had to suffer, at least somewhat, and after preparing ourselves for the crowds and crazies we’d encounter doing the Cahuenga crawl in Hollywood on July 3, we were surprised by the relative mellowness. Sure, there were the usual sparkly-frocked gals and dress-shirted dudes milling about the street and lining up for Goa, Citizen Smith and Kitchen 24, but our fave haunts Beauty Bar, The Room and Burgundy Room were surprisingly sparse for the prelude to the holiday.
That wasn’t the case up the street on Vine, when we popped into Jason Lavitt and Ray Rhodes’ pop-tastic gay night Tigerheat at Avalon. Wow. Talk about an alchemic club combo. The boy buster was fun at Arena, but at Avalon, it truly is a superclub, complete with stage production and amazing sound (a special set was brought in for the weekend, when DJ Vice, Hybrid and Peter Hook would spin on subsequent nights), not to mention a bounty of foxy effeminates and young hit-song-lovin’ hags and hotties. No shocker, the club seems to be getting its share of straight boys too, hoping to hook up with the latter in this less-competitive setting, but that probably won’t be the case at Lavitt’s new one debuting Wednesday, July 16: the succinctly named GAY at Fubar. Fubar, by the way, has a new owner, Silver Needle/Kiss or Kill Club’s Johnny 99, who’s also behind another new WeHo sipping hole, Saint Felix. Look for a Nightranger review of that one soon.
Speaking of new zoo reviews, our July 3 commenced at the new gothish grotto called Medusa Lounge in “Historic Filipinotown,” where DJ DavidHolmes hosts a Thursday party called the Count. Formerly the campy German eatery Lowenbrau Keller, this new spot has taken the gaudy kitsch of its former incarnation to new heights with even more chandeliers and candelabras, stained-glass windows and “Harry Potter at Hogwarts” touches. It’s actually beautiful in an over-the-top way, and its look, coupled with its newness, makes it the official birthday-party spot of the summer — writer Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna had hers there last week, and we counted no fewer than three b-day gals (the tiaras gave it away) last Thursday. We predict this ornate feast for the eyes will be the Eastside boho base of summer too, thanks not only to Holmes’ Thursday party but also to the monthly grind fest Clash of the Titans (nice Greek mythology tie-in) from DJ Pubes and Chris Haycock (The Do-Over). Check it out for yourself a week from this Friday, on July 18. ... Admittedly, our predictions of popularity aren’t right 100 percent of the time, and on the Fourth of July we were actually kinda glad to be wrong. We took the family to the Queen Mary for Gridlock, an Independence Day/night event (from the guys who do NYE at Paramount Studios) promising tribute bands, midlevel R&B stars Ray-J and (two gals from) Girlicious, plus carnival rides. We feared the worst (that it would live up to its name and we’d be stuck in traffic for hours as the Web site warned), but we ended up driving right in, to enjoy the rides, music and fireworks over the marina with plenty of elbowroom. Good for us, but we’re guessing not so good profit wise for the promoters. Still, the plan to bring “Hollywood appeal” to the area, with red-carpet events, restaurants, theaters and high-end retail, will probably make things different next year, and the transformation should begin with Gridlock’s popular New Year’s Eve party (moving from Paramount Studios) set to ring in ’09.