View more photos in Lina Lecaro's slideshow, "Best of L.A. Nightlife 2010."
New year, new outlook and (surely) tons of new adventures to be had after dark in 2011, but before we start making resolutions and delve into "saving the dates," we take one final look back for a salute to the best in L.A. nightlife.
With awards season about to begin in L.A., we offer a fitting prelude: "The First L.A. Nightie Awards." In addition to bragging rights, the following winners will receive the ultimate club-land honor: a sparkly gold VIP wristband! Don't agree with our choices? That's OK, the point here is that these are people and places we think you should check out in 2011. (We're also open to hearing what you, the reader, enjoyed most after dark in Los Angeles, so drop us a note at the feedback section of laweekly.com.)
And the winners are ...
BEST PARTY: RED ZEBRA
Robert Vargas may be known as a crowd-pleasing artist doing street portraits during L.A. Artwalk, but his new gathering, Red Zebra, showed his talents went way beyond charcoal. As Artwalk seemed to become more homogenized, this party — in the old bank vault environs of The Crocker Club — took the best of downtown's creative minds and mixed them into a magical, unpredictable bacchanal of fashion, live music, DJs and, of course, art. The event is on the first Thursday of every month, so if you're reading this on Jan. 6, check it out tonight.
NEW BAR: ANGELS & KINGS
Rock & roll bars can be tricky. Go too far with the studs and leather and you risk entering Spinal Tap–ville (Loaded, which replaced Tiny's on Hollywood Boulevard, comes to mind). A&K — the sister bar to Pete Wentz's and Crush management's NYC drinking hole — also is on the boulevard and it also has a lot to look at, but the metal-ish mix works here mainly because it seems to have a sense of humor about itself. Rockin' DJs, chalkboard walls, mug-shot art and even a room where patrons can pose for their own mugger complete with police lineup wall backdrop. Be sure to watch your intake or you might be doing it for real.
OLD BAR: JUMBO'S CLOWN ROOM
Jumbo's celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2010, and it remains a seductive mini-mall circus. Rock & roll vixens dancing to loud sounds, colorful atmosphere and a frisky yet friendly, family feel. Thanks to the Pussycat Dolls and Burlesque, the concept of scantily clad grinding girlies has lost its edge. L.A. burlesque babes (Devil's Playground, Lucha Va Voom, Victory Variety Hour) keep it sassy, but Jumbo's brings the sizzle and cheap sauce nightly, and it's free.
ALTERNATIVE SPACE: FREAK CITY
Some great underground venues emerged this past year and contenders for this title included The Lacy Warehouse (Hang the DJs), TheSex (Rhondavous), Lot 613, Show Cave and HM 157. But Freak City was victorious thanks to wild after-hours, Delicious Vinyl DJ events and random one-off ragers hidden behind a Hollywood storefront. Parking was never a problem, the place looked like a set out of Electric Boogaloo, and there was even a boutique offering '80s hip-hop gear upstairs. Alas, we hear the Freaks just moved to the old Antenna space on Hollywood Boulevard, so (party) time will tell if the dope vibes get reception there, too.
UPSCALE CLUB: MY STUDIO
Drais opened its gilded gates atop the W Hotel, Sam Nazarian offered Hamptons-like surroundings at Colony and retro-Hollywood glam at Redbury and Cleo, and Brent Bolthouse unveiled the trendy Trousdale, but the velvet-roper we liked best was My Studio, which managed to be opulent and unique, flashy yet cozy. David Judaken and Tony Daly of My House offered another lived-in theme for this club, formerly Mood, and brought in solid promoters, scoring some hot parties in the process: the launches of Paris Hilton's perfume and the DJ Hero game. Will their reinvention of Opera (now called Eden) this year surpass the success of the "My" formula? We'll let you know.
MOST IMPROVED: CAT CLUB
When Dayle Gloria (Scream, Viper Room) took over managing duties at this Sunset Strip dive, she did more than refurbish parts of the interior and exterior. She brought in some great up-and-coming bands, raucous cover groups and weekly promos. With a bustling patio and great sound inside, Slim Jim Phantom's boozer kitty purrs anew.
GAY OL' TIME: TIGER HEAT
Mustache Mondays and anything at Fubar were always good for homo hell-raising and gay-friendly revelry, but what impressed us about Tigerheat (Thursdays at Avalon) was the unmitigated fervency seen on the floor here. A megamix of young boy-toy types and their straight gal-pals mostly, this video-vampin' pop-music dance party may be 9 years old now, but it pumps like a potent pubescent.
FIERCEST CLUB KIDS: OMEGA COLLEKTIV
These flamboyant nightlife fixtures made their mark in many different club locales: Miss Kitty's Parlour, Mustache, Shits & Giggles and, most notably, the aforementioned Red Zebra, where they host the club-within-the-club called Glass Door. Giving the NYC club kids of yore a run for their mascara, designer Ernie Omega and BF Walki Talki and their posse made fashionable fete-ing fun again.
BIGGEST BANDEMONIUM: OFF!
While everyone crushed on Best Coast, and bowed to the bizarre brilliance of We Are the World and got savage about Warpaint, we noted that a band of L.A. vets brought the most live-music frenzy wherever they played: Off! This supergroup consisting of Keith Morris, Dimitri Coats, Steven McDonald and Mario Rubalcaba brought a renewed excitement to the L.A. punk scene in particular, and whether their shows were at downtown warehouses, record stores or proper club venues, they were always a wonderful ruckus filled with young, old, pissed off and exultant. With short, angry gems and shows, they always left us wanting more.
HONORABLE MENTION: L.A.'S FINEST CLUB & PARTY DJS
Adam 12, Howie Pyro, Paul V, Slash Fiction, Them Jeans, Josh Peace, Dan Oh, Casper, Ana Calderon, Daisy O'Dell, Don Bolles, Skeet Skeet, My Little Pony and all the Dublab dudes ...