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
BEST STRIP-CLUB MUSIC
Sam’s Hofbrau of downtown L.A. isn’t the Rolls Royce of strip clubs. Adjacent to a parking lot of shopping carts and an enormous yellow warehouse not likely to become lofts, Sam’s Hofbrau feels more like a pimped-out El Camino, complete with kickin’ reggaeton and an interior straight out of a Robert Rodriguez film. Unlike strip clubs of various ilks, the Hofbrau makes no bones about dropping the sweetest Spanish-language jams this side of Juarez. The club is probably the strip bar of choice for Twin Towers prison downtown and, because of some of its straight-from-the-slammer clientele, comes with a long list of rules: “No camera phones, no guns, all head tattoos must be covered, and no pencils or pens.” A side of shivving with lap dance is not out of the question, but every moment at the Hofbrau bar is worth the danger. The low bass drops and bouncing accordion lines fuel sultry activity at the center of the room, while men obscured by gyrating ladies in thongs occupy the booths on the periphery. There’s never a bad night at the Hofbrau, and without the usual ’80s hair-metal or commercial hip-hop, the Latin jams get the ladies’ hips a-shakin’ and the tips flyin’. 751 E. Olympic Blvd., dwntwn. (213) 623-3989, samshofbrau.com.
BEST PLACE TO MEET A SUPERSTAR DJ
Maybe you haven’t noticed, but this superstar DJ game is serious business. Some spinners have been known to travel with bodyguards (we’re looking at you, Danny Tenaglia), and five-figure paydays are common. While well-known jocks are still more accessible than, say, members of U2, the days of practically everyone getting backstage at a big DJ gig are over. The Electric Daisy Carnival in early summer claims to have drawn 135,000 people to the Coliseum: That’s certainly proven that rock-star status has arrived for the DJ. However, if you prefer less security between you and the guy playing other people’s music for you, there’s still a place to go: Monday Social at Playhouse. For 13 years the Social has put big-name DJs (even John Digweed) on an even keel with its intimate school-night crowds. It’s not unusual to see the likes of the Crystal Method’s Ken Jordan or trance pioneer Brian Transeau having a beverage. The mood is casual, not amped. Known for getting imported Saturday-night heroes to stick around and play on a Monday, they’ve recently moved to a bigger, newer venue, Playhouse. The sound system, a British Funktion One, is to die for. And the cover, usually just $10 with RSVP, isn’t too serious. 6506 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd. (323) 656-4800, playhousehollywood.com. 21+. Doors open Mondays at 10 p.m.
BEST ALL-AGES VENUE
With all due respect to Echo Curio, host to a consistently compelling combination of outsider art both audio and visual, Jim Smith’s The Smell remains the single best venue for showgoers of all ages to experience not only the music of their peers, but that of some bona fide legends, to boot. Despite its rising profile, the downtown venue has kept admission cheap (almost always $5) and its M.O. intact: to play host to the noisiest, messiest, most genreless and generally outside-of-the-box hand-hewn musical experiments around, while maintaining a downright wholesome sense of community fueled by vegan pancake brunches, haircut parties and a generous library of nifty zines. And of course, it’s still the home base of local heroes like No Age, HEALTH, Abe Vigoda, and Mika Miko — not to mention possible future stars like Pocahaunted and Widow Babies — as well as the stopping point of choice for Thurston Moore when he’s taking time off from Sonic Youth. What’s more, the Smell offers myriad ways for youth to get involved, whether behind the scenes or working the front door. 247 S. Main St., dwntwn. thesmell.org.
BEST SOCCER PUB
The World Cup returns in summer 2010, so L.A. soccer aficionados should begin to think about where they’ll post up to watch the sport’s premier event. The Underground Pub and Grill, just off the Strand in Hermosa Beach, has everything you want in a soccer pub: a proliferation of HD flat screens, a crowd that knows and loves the Beautiful Game, Boddingtons on tap, morning hours conducive to catching games in far-flung time zones, and classically greasy English-pub fare to help soak up all those a.m. ales. Founded by Northern Irish footie legend George Best, the Underground prices its beer and grub cheaply enough for hardcore soccerheads to take in a full day of action there. It’s worth a visit even now, as English Premier League matches are under way, but come next summer the Underground will become a cannot-be-missed milieu of truly raucous fandom. 1332 Hermosa Ave., Hermosa Beach. (310) 318-3818, undergroundpub.com.
BEST 3 MARGARITAS BY A BEACH
There’s only one way to drink a frosty, get-your-head-spinning citrus-tequila blend — and that’s near the beach. If you’re going to knock back the hallmark drink of spring break you might as well feel like you’re on vacation. The city is home to showy flaming margaritas, cotton candy-based margaritas, and $2 specials, but it’s in the beach towns that you’ll find the signature Mexican drink paired with happy hour truffle fries and late-night “hand-hacked” guacamole. He’ll say: If the tequila you’re drinking isn’t 100 percent Agave, it ain’t real tequila. And freshly squeezed lime and lemon juices are supremely important. She’ll say: Not too much ice or salt, and its got to have a kick to it ... you want to be buzzed all the way to the sand. He: Margaritas are serious business at Bouzy in Redondo Beach during their “Happy Cocktail Hour.” They have potent, lip-smacking libations for $4. Plus, their truffle fries and “Kogi” hotdogs are fresh twists on favored classics. She: The staff is easy-on-the-eyes at Bouzy and you’ll love their sleek leather booths. But if you must have your chips and salsa, and want to feel like you’re in a foreign land, then it’s La Cabaña in Venice. They use fresh limes and have more than 20 varieties of margaritas, like coconut or banana. He: Banana margaritas just sound wrong. She: You also need to hit up Mucho Ultima Mexicana in Manhattan Beach for their late-night specials. But it’s only $5 for house margaritas and they’ve got BBQ shrimp tacos. He: Is that the swanky restaurant that serves 150 types of tequilas? She: So amazing. Their “Mucho Margarita” beats the overhyped Cabo Wabo and Sharkeez any day. He: If you’re looking for fruity, ice-blended margaritas to swill on sultry nights, Mucho is a choice spot. Bouzy, 1611 S. Catalina Ave., Redondo Beach. (310) 540 1222; La Cabaña, 738 Rose Ave., Venice. (310) 392-7973; Mucho Ultima Mexicana, 903 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach. (310) 374-4422.