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Hollywood's Massive New Nightspot 

Come out & play (house).

Wednesday, Jul 15 2009
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View more photos in the "Playing Hard" Nightranger slideshow.

COME OUT & PLAY(HOUSE)
Another multimillion-dollar mega-club venue out to devour Hollywood? It’s hard not to be a bit incredulous when the buzz starts to build about and around yet another swanky haven of dance music–driven hedonism, especially when its locale is where we’ve seen so many “hot spots” ignite, smolder and quickly burn out. But something about the Playhouse, which transformed the old Fox Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard near Wilcox, suggests that this room will be different. There are the names behind the place for one: Elie Samaha (L.A.’s legendary Roxbury and, more recently, The Green Door) and Rob Vinokur (Crobar NYC, Miami’s Goddess). Then there are the insiders who’ve joined their Muse Lifestyle Group, namely L.A. nightlife heavy Rick Calamaro, best known for his work with enduring club venues like Ivar, Holly’s and Nacional (which he still owns), not to mention the sexy soiree Grandville, one of the first to mesh girlie eye candy with a dance club environs back in the day. A-list wrangler/party girl Allison Melnick, who celebrated her birthday during the soft opening a couple Thursdays ago, is also part of the team.

Calamaro tells us the philosophy behind this impressive venue is different than most in the area: All events are in-house. What that means is you won’t find “outside” promoters throwing parties and leaving once they die out, thereby killing the venue. Rather, friends and former allies from the club world will join the family to help get bodies inside. It sure seems to be working so far . maybe too well. Thursday’s opening night, featuring DJ Vice (who’ll be that eve’s resident), saw lines for blocks and a visit by the fire marshal. It was equally chaotic at the door last Friday, when we stopped by the debut of Dirty SexyHouse, which we got multiple e-mail invites for from the likes of BoxEight’s Micheal Utsinger, JoeJoe Promotions and Club Giant. Met even more hosts that night, many holding court at bottle service tables surrounded by requisite busty babes. The overpay-to-sit-and-sip aspect ain’t Nightranger’s (DD) cup of tea, but the floor was more fun anyway; an electric and attractive meld of movers and shakers. Still, it was the space itself that was most ogle-worthy.

click to enlarge LINA LECARO - Performer flies high above the Playroom.

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THE DREAM TEAM IS IN THE HOUSE
The Playroom ain’t playin’ when it comes to competing with Vegas and Miami club spectacle. “This is the first big production-based club in L.A.,” Vinokur told us as we looked down on the house action with him and Samaha from the lighting booth above it all, Friday. It’s kaleidoscopic for sure. Orbs protruding from the wall change hues to the music as an LCD screen flashes in shapes and designs behind the DJ on stage, which is bordered by another bar and a sunken dance floor. There’s also a bar in the middle of the room, above which the club’s slew of servers do double duty as cirque performers, flying through the air on hoops and ropes. It’s telling that even nightlife biggies like Brent Bolthouse (an old cohort of Samaha’s from the Roxbury days), Pantera Sarah and Grace Fernandez have joined this circus: The trio has come together for Saturdays (Brent even deejays the VIP room). With that one, plus a live music night from Nic and Cisco Adler called Banger & Mash (coming Wednesdays in August), we’ll be back to Play and re-play, fo’ sho’.

STOMP ALL NIGHT
After the sensory assault of a club like the Playroom, a slightly more relaxed room like Bardot above Avalon was in order. Bardot Fridays, hosted by Rich Royal, GracieCakes, Jason Scoppa and Alexi Yulish, boasts good times and good tunes, not to mention sophisticated atmosphere and stylish garb. (Too bad the club is so darn strict about photo-taking, or we’d have more to show you in our online slideshow this week.) Capping off Friday’s Tinseltown treadin’, we stomped back to good ol’ Cahuenga (despite signs all down the boulevard asking clubbers to take taxis, the traffic kept us on foot, even in killer heels). ApolloStaar had the Beauty Bar’s floor a hot mess with his new night Sex Dwarf, and let’s just say the dudes there were anything but dwarf-ish. The girls were sexy, though. Staar, by the way, recently guest deejayed at “Rock ’n’ Roll Discoteque” at H’Wood (formerly Diamond Dogs, now soldiering on sans high profile ex-host Bryan Rabin on Thursdays); from what we hear, that one’s gone from arty mixed mash to model/celeb bash. Ryan Seacrest and Lindsay Lohan were there recently, and the latter even badgered Staar to play some electro remix she brought on CD, interrupting a rockin’ set. (Typical.) And in more small-world club news: Aforementioned Rich Royal is currently doing a new night with Discoteque’s Kelly Cole and Ian Cripps, called Electric Wednesdays at Crown Bar. Let’s hope that trifecta proves less tempestuous than the Dogs’ one did.

CRASH PAD
Averse to the velvet-roped verve of the above clubs but still lookin’ for audacious amusement? Have we got a goodie for you. HM 157 (a.k.a. Historical Monument 157), a converted Montecito Heights–manse-turned-events-space from the Church of Fashion collective, boasts some of the most unique events you’ll find in Los Angeles: square dance socials, potluck powwows, art and music classes, and eclectic live bands. This Saturday should be particularly spazztastic, with a performance by one of our new local faves, Kate Crash. Caught Crash and crew tearing apart the Scene in Glendale a couple weeks ago, and we were awed by the band’s crazed choreography (with back-up dancers), costume changes, and uncontained cavorting. KC attacked every chair and crevice in the club . who needs a stage, anyway? The equally charismatic backing band give heft to the music, a sonic hodgepodge of rock, glam and hip-hop, with additional beat tracks adding to the grind. No surprise, Crash spent years on the streets of Tokyo perfecting her freaky performance art–meets-music act. Dynamic and demented (she portends to be “half alien and raised by wolves”), Crash and co. are a great fit for the quirky grassroots gathering place that is 157. Learn more about the band at www.myspace.com/Katecrash and the venue at www.myspace.com/hm157.

Reach the writer at llecaro@laweekly.com

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