Was it end-of-decade (yes, 2010 was end of decade — look it up) dementia, all the Mercury retrograde cycles or something else that gave this past year a surreal feel? Not sure, but Nightranger's annual look back at the year's after-dark activity yielded some outrageous, weird, sad and downright meta moments. (Check out laweekly.com's West Coast Sound blog for our "Top 10 WTF Moments in L.A. Nightlife, 2010.") There also were plenty of giddy, glamorous, enlightening evenings this past year. Here's a look back at the people, places and parties of 2010:
JANUARY: DRAG AND DIP
Dragstrip 66 hangs up its wig cap. Breaks the attendance record at The Echo with closing party. Man-mascara runs rampant.
Will.i.am expands his "Zuper Blahq" DJ dreams into club promoting (and Web wrangling) with a site and soiree called DipDive at Club Lingerie, ending during Grammy week with his own awards show at The Palladium. The DipDive Awards marked the mainstreaming of electronic music, for which, for better or worse, Black Eyed Peas were largely responsible.
FEBRUARY: ALICE IN W-LAND
The W Hotel and its "living room" and restaurant Delphine open to the public. It's like the recession never existed.
Stinkers (now Thirsty Crow) in Silver Lake goes out in rip-roaring style, with a loud and liquored-up auction. The much-maligned skunk-butt plaques go for a couple hundred, the Burt Reynolds bathroom door for $800.
L.A. falls down the rabbit hole with numerous Alice in Wonderland events advancing Tim Burton's film, from fetishy red queens and fiendish hatters at Bar Sinister to little-girl tea parties at Royal/T.
MARCH-APRIL: CALIFORNIA PARADISE
More movie mania in L.A. as The Runaways premieres at the Cinerama Dome, followed by Runaways reunion talk (again). Sadly, it still hasn't happened. Kim Fowley soaks up the spotlight, pimping his new girl project Black Room Doom. Twi-hards add girl-on-girl smooching to vampire-biting experimentation thanks to Kristen Stewart.
Drais — atop the W — opens its doors (and shuts them in the faces of those sans funds for "pay-to-be-a-player" bottle-service booths). Luckily the Metro station is near the entrance, offering a quick escape for velvet-rope rejects.
The "hell" in Coachella (huh huh) takes on new meaning with the most crowded, disorganized desert fest yet. The Icelandic volcano, which keeps many acts stranded in Europe, doesn't help matters.
MAY: SPRING FEVER
Off! offers its first short and sweet show downtown (17 minutes long), Jane's Addiction unveils a short-lived lineup with Duff McKagan at Bardot, and a rare intimate set by She Wants Revenge sweats up Swinghouse Studios. But the music act that really makes an impression with Nightranger? Justin Bieber. We finally see for ourselves what this little sideswept-tressed lesbian look-alike is all about onstage (at Wango Tango). Shocker: We're not impressed. We also learn how to pronounce his name; yes, it sounds like beaver, which is ironic since most of his fans are years away from possessing one.
JUNE: RANTS AND RAVES
Mark the Cobrasnake opens shop in Hollywood & Highland. Tourists take ugly T-shirts, short shorts and neon Ray-Ban knockoffs back to their Midwest towns and tout it as "L.A. style."
A drug death at the Electric Daisy Carnival inspires renewed rave panic from parents. The word "rave" comes to mean any large concert at which electronic music is played and fairy wings are worn.
JULY: LADIEZ NIGHTS
Kelis and Robyn become the Liza and Cher of the dance generation at their 99 percent (manscaped) male-attended gig at The Music Box.
Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black's Kembra Pfahler brings her body-painted bootie back to L.A. after nearly a decade's absence. Takes over Trannyshack L.A. and Milk Studios. S.F.'s top tranny, Peaches Christ (not to be confused with Peaches performing Jesus Christ Superstar), takes possession of the Vista Theatre with a "4-D spooktacular" for her film All About Evil. Fake blood and faker boobs are in abundance in Silver Lake like never before.
AUGUST: SUNSET PEOPLE
Studs and poses are on display at the Sunset Strip Music Fest, as fans turn out for performances by the likes of Smashing Pumpkins and Slash. Fergie joins Slash for one of the year's strangest guest spots, busting out stripper moves, cartwheels and knee-high ax fellatio.
The Sunset Junction Street Fair sees the usual swarms of beards and boots stomp Silver Lake. Many scruffsters save their money for FYF Fest a few weeks later, but they miss some amazing live stints at the Street Fair: freaky goodness from Fishbone and bombastic beats of Bad Brains. Long lines and lack of concessions make FYF end up way more annoying than SJ (even with the $20 cover) has ever been.
SEPTEMBER: ARTY PANTS
Tabloid culture meets tattoo culture as Kat Von D unveils her new art gallery/boutique Wonderland and her new love, Jesse James, outshining a stellar art exhibit and party. Causing a media circus at an art opening? We're guessing Andy Warhol would say, "job well done." Also in September, Royal/T opens its latest exhibit, "The Warholian," celebrating the pop-art icon with David J deejaying, a disco Porta Potty and a cheese-heavy menu. (The exhibit ends Jan. 31.)
OCTOBER-NOVEMBER: EASY DOES IT
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Speakeasy-style parties and venues (La Descarga, The Mezz, The Varnish, Red Zebra) are all the rage, while after-parties (for MIA, Peaches, LCD Soundsystem, Phoenix) prove more fun than the actual concert.
Corporate monstrosities (Hard Rock Café, The Redbury) continue to swathe Hollywood, while divey faves (Ye Coach & Horses, Crane's Hollywood Tavern, Hollywood Cabaret) take their last liquor-soaked breath. RIP (Rest in Puke).
DECEMBER: GIVING BACK
Here at Nightranger HQ we're hard at work on our first Nightie Awards. We'll bestow L.A.'s party people, promoters, DJs, best dressers, scenesters and scene stealers with honors in next week's column (and golden VIP wristbands, too)!