Best Lesbian Nightclub Party: Truck Stop
Inspired by New York City’s Coyote Ugly, lesbian nightclub promoters Linda Fusco and Michelle Agnew brought Truck Stop night to Here Lounge in West Hollywood more than two years ago. The idea was to throw a sexy, no-holds-barred fright-night party where even the shyest gal could let loose, and lesbians from the Eastside, Westside and even Orange County have been packing into Here ever since. The highlight of “Truck Stop” is the dancing girls/bartenders, who play “dream-girl” roles, ranging from the all-American sweetheart to the leather diva. Every hour on the hour, they step onto the bar and dance jaw-dropping routines to modern pop, rock and hip-hop, which also fuel the fun vibe.
Truck Stop at Here Lounge, 696 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 360-8455 or www.herelounge.com. Fridays, starting at 10 p.m.
Best Gay Nightclub Event: Cherry Pop
There are many contenders in this competitive category, but Cherry Pop at Ultra Suede in West Hollywood stands out. Created by gay-nightclub promoter Tom Whitman, this Saturday-night party is something of a throwback to the hard dancing nights of the ’70s and ’80s. Rather than just stand inside some bar and maybe play some pool, Cherry Pop features a large dance floor with beautiful go-go boys and nonstop grooves from the ’80s to the present. What sets this party apart from other gay nightlife scenes is the populist feel. Attitudes seem to be checked at the door, and boys of all ages — from the 20-something crowd to men in their 40s — hang out, dance and mingle.
Cherry Pop at Ultra Suede, 661 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 659-4551 or www.factorynightclub.com/ultra-suede.htm. Saturdays, starting at 9 p.m.
Best Gay Bar: Akbar
Akbar stands as a monument to everything that’s right and good about the gay-bar scene. Opened on December 31, 1996, by co-owners Scott Craig and Peter Alexander, the jukebox offers everything from Gram Parsons to Vampire Weekend, while the bar attracts a wide variety of hot guys and gals who chill out, drink a few beers and possibly make out in the back. Elitism is not a vibe that runs through Akbar, and its customers seem to know it. The place feels like a neighborhood bar rather than a heavy-duty nighttime scene, which has always been Craig and Alexander’s intention for Akbar. Gays and lesbians on the Westside may not know of this treasure, or they’ve forgotten about it, but Akbar is there, and waiting to be checked out. Once you go, you’ll probably become a regular.
4635 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, (323) 665-6810.
Best Gay Bar, Lifetime Achievement: The Abbey
Simply put, The Abbey is the Abbey. It is world-famous, a gay L.A. institution. It was even the site of a major political fund-raiser where presidential candidate Hillary Clinton actually showed up. Gay bars have come and gone, but the Abbey has only grown in the past 15 years. It may be fashionable in certain gay circles to dismiss the Abbey, but owner David Cooley has always been front and center for gay causes, hosting special political events. And it’s still a great place to catch up with friends. The Abbey, in fact, reflects the postgay times we seem increasingly to live in — during the day, mothers often stroll their kids into the bar/restaurant for a quick bite to eat, and other straight folk drop by for a drink or sandwich — but the gay heart of the establishment remains, with big gay and lesbian crowds at night and on the weekends.
692 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 289-8410 or www.abbeyfoodandbar.com.
Best “Post Gay” Bar: Saint Felix
The nightlife scene in West Hollywood has always been a curious one. On the Sunset Strip, straight boys and gals hit the rock clubs and places like the Standard, while only a few blocks south, all along Santa Monica Boulevard, gays and lesbians party down at same-sex bars and nightclubs. The two really never meet, but in this “post gay” world, where younger clubgoers are more accepting of others’ sexual orientation — at least in a city like L.A. — it was only a matter of time that segregation would come to end. At Saint Felix, an East Village–type lounge with the vibe of a neighborhood bar, it most definitely has. Gay guys pop into Saint Felix for a beer or a cocktail, and straight rockers and their girlfriends, heading from or to the Troubadour, un-self-consciously join them. No big deal, no fuss. Opened by co-owners John Arakaki, Jay Krymis and Christian Leibfried in early June, the lounge also serves excellent gastro pub food deep into the night — the Cubano tacos and Kobe sliders are especially good. So far, it’s something of a secret among cool gays and straights, but anyone’s welcome to join the post gay fun.
8945 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 275-4428.
Best Hag Happenings by Lina Lecaro
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