Photo by Wild Don Lewis

When it comes to being a club hub, L.A. may have finally lived up to the hype this year. Still, it wasn’t all swingin’ and swiggin’. It seemed like you had to battle more traffic, longer lines, and more freaks and phonies than ever to just get your groove on. Was it worth it?

“So 2003” Club Couture

1 Trucker caps.

2 Latino logos (“Chica” and “Jesus Is My Homeboy”) on gringos.

3 Fake hair.

4 Anything striped.

5 “Vintage” rock tees (REO Speedwagon, STYX) worn ironically.

Waiting for Godot?

While average Joes stood for hours, soap actors and kids from That ’70s Show drove up and sauntered in effortlessly. Ah, Hollywood.

1 White Lotus. Outside it’s like a cattle call — or is it a casting call?

2 Las Palmas. Just because the ropes are velvet doesn’t mean we like to be pushed into them.

3 The Standard (downtown and Sunset Strip). The Strip location is a circus, and by comparison, downtown isn’t actually that bad (the lobby is almost as cool as the rooftop bar), but the delayed entry can be even more tedious.

4 and 5. Deep and The Ivar.

It’s a classic clubbin’ dilemma: You’re a gal who wants to dress sexy but you don’t want to lug a coat around inside, so you freeze your ass off in line. At these two cruiser-happy spots, you’re on display like a beachless bunny.

Songs We Got Enough Of, Sorta

Certain songs may guarantee booties on the floor, but that doesn’t mean we want to hear them every single time we go to a club. Or do we?

1 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.” No, it’s still not your birthday.

2 The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” Gives techno and pop DJs automatic rock cred, and you can dance to it too.

3 Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” The IPod commercial backing track has taken the place of Iggy’s “Lust For Life” (which it happens to sound exactly like) as bubbly rock tune du jour.

4 Missy Elliot’s “Work It.” Yeah, it’s overplayed, but it’s still not quite old yet.

5 Anything considered electroclash.

We’ll Always Have Paris

Long before she became a media hound, Mz. Hilton was voraciously vamping it up at local clubs, cell phone in tow. This year there were so many sightings, she became more noticeable in her absence. Despite her recent notoriety, she only just beat out Kelly Osbourne for seen-everywhere party girl of the year.

1 The Spider Club, badgering the DJ to play some Michael Jackson just a few weeks before both their scandals broke.

2 Cinespace, presenting sis Nicky with a pink 31 Flavors birthday cake.

3 The Lounge, drinking and dancing.

4 The Standard, posing and prancing.

5 The Strokes at the Palladium, drinking and dancing and posing and prancing.

It Men

These promoters and/or club proprietors monopolized the nightlife circuit this year.

1 Brent Bolthouse (Mondays at Joseph’s; Wednesdays at Concorde; Fridays at Avalon)

2 Jason Lavitt (Synthetic at Blue; Beat It, Bang! and Slurp at the Ruby; Tigerheat at the Hollywood Athletic Club)

3 Steve Edelson (Lush, El Cid, Zen, the Larchmont, Forbidden City, the Joint)

4 Bruce Perdew (Velvet at 7969; Clockwork Orange at the Ruby; Dungeon, Blue Mondays and Perversion at Blue)

5 Mario Diaz (Hot Dog at the Parlour, Big Fat Dick at Fubar, and pumpin’ outta electro clubs everywhere with his band Dirty Sanchez’s mega-hit “Fucking on the Dancefloor”)

In MemoriAm

1 Juvee. The skate shop located behind Jay’s Jayburgers rivaled most real rock clubs with its weekend lineups of punk and thrash, but when they couldn’t pay the rent, its wheels stopped spinnin’ permanently.

2 Social Studies at A.D./Punani at the Lounge. Hip-hop and dance-hit-hungry hipsters and fashionistas packed these Bolthouse happenings for quite a while, but something had to give.

3 Pretty Ugly at the Dragonfly.

Taime Downe’s answer to the Cathouse retracted its claws on the local rock scene after five fab ’n’ fiendy years.

4 Vinyl Fetish. Okay, so it’s not exactly a club, but it sure felt like one, especially back in the day, when just about every major U.K. rock star made appearances here. There’s a new store on Cahuenga, but when the original landmark music shop closed this year, it left a void.

5 The Garage. Word is, the flame-covered rock spot will become just what Silver Lake needs, a swanky danceteria.

Open for buzz-ness

The freshest of the fresh, sure to ripen in ’04:

1 The Sapphire. This bar just might make the Valley hop again.

2 Forbidden City. The latest place to see celebs getting Punk’d.

3 Concorde. Totally non-descript outside and located in one of the sketchiest parts of Hollywood, it’s the Entertainment Tonight of the club scene.

4 El Centro. From the peeps behind Concorde and Las Palmas, should be same as above.

5 Mountain Bar. Chinatown’s chic-est new shack


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