7702 Club (7702 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-654-3336), with its brooding, dark environment, is offset by the bar’s suspiciously energetic 24-hour-a-day clientele.
7969 (7969 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-654-0280), formerly known as Peanuts, was recently renovated, due to fire, but evenings like “Sin-a-Matic” and “Michelle’s XXX Topless Revue” forge fearlessly on.
Barney’s Beanery (8447 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-654-2287) is where frat boys sing bad karaoke Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays — so buyer beware. Otherwise, a huge selection of beers from all over the planet.
Club Brasserie (1020 N. San Vicente Blvd., in the Bel Age Hotel; 310-854-1111) features live jazz Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Listen while dining Caliterra (Californian meets Italian) style.
The Comedy Store (8433 Sunset Blvd.; 323-656-6225) is where many funny guys and gals, including Jim Carrey, Robin Williams and Richard Pryor, began their ascent to comic fame.
Doug Weston’s Troubadour (9081 Santa Monica Blvd.; 310-276-6168) is the humid-as-hell, all-ages music venue that packs ’em in. But if you’re under 21, you literally can’t get out till the show’s end — some sort of safety thing.
Dublin’s Irish Whiskey Pub (8240 Sunset Blvd.; 323-656-0100) is where television sets reign ubiquitous. Downstairs is a trashy sports bar, but the upstairs changes pace for private parties, being more refined with its soft lighting, a cream-colored pool table and casual contempo décor.
The Factory (652 N. La Peer Drive; 310-659-4551) is an industrial, gleaming-silver, outer-spacy, color-mutable club that hosts DJs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The Gardenia (7066 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-467-7444) serves up both dinner and a slice of cabaret. Dinner 7–10 p.m., showtimes 9 p.m. nightly, in a New York–style setting.
Gold Coast (8228 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-656-4879), lovingly referred to as “Vaseline alley,” is also touted as the “best bar with the best music ever!” One will occasionally spot the panty-sporting habitué within the packed male sphere.
Goodbar (9229 Sunset Blvd.; 310-271-8355) is a trendy nightclub where one can find UCLA students, industry types, the Lakers and a preponderance of little black dresses.
House of Blues (8430 Sunset Blvd.; 323-848-5100), on whose hallowed walls perch an odd country/urban/New Guinea/naif/eclectic collection of artwork, is the famed venue where one can dine, drink, hear some rock, hip-hop, jazz, pop, etc.
Hunter’s Cocktail Lounge (7511 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-850-9428) is where homecoming and drag queens mingle. It’s a neighborhood bar with a Native American and gaming theme. Also sells nuts and Cracker Jacks.
J. Sloan’s (8623 Melrose Ave.; 310-659-0250) two floors contain typical sports-bar gear, banners, jerseys, televisions and precariously placed hanging decorations — wagons, sleds, wheels, etc. — like right above your head. Management’s changed, so perchance the cops won’t be there 24-7, like they were in those good-old-but-raucous days.
Key Club (9039 Sunset Blvd.; 310-274-5800) is an über-futuristic nightclub with computer monitors on the floor, in mirrors, and in red and glowing elevators so you won’t miss one iota of the show. There’s a cage for bikini-clad, whipped dancers, “intelligent” lights, and bathrooms stocked with shampoo and Tootsie Pops. It’s also a three-and-a-half-star restaurant, and a music venue for various DJs and the likes of Limp Bizkit, Def Leppard and Sarah McLaughlin.
LunaPark (665 N. Robertson Blvd.; 310-652-0611) has an intimate downstairs cabaret that hosts alternative musicians and offbeat comedians who joke of cornrowed pubic hair and the oxymoronic juxtaposition “PCH/Malibu gangsta posses.” Upstairs, there are a few bars and dancing spaces, an outside patio and a chic dining area.
Micky’s (8857 Santa Monica Blvd.; 310-657-1176) is home to shirtless bartenders, lights and swirling visuals. Thong-clad male dancers work the tables of mostly clothed, similarly swaying patrons.
Miyagi’s (8225 Sunset Blvd.; 323-650-3524) is a three-tiered testament to sushi and its obvious counterpart, dancing. Dancing on the tables is allowed and expected.
Mother Lode (8944 Santa Monica Blvd.; 310-659-9700), with its nod to all that is feminine with the “mother” moniker, is not really inviting the fairer sex to make themselves cozy. This is definitely an all-dude bar.
The Normandie Room (8737 Santa Monica Blvd.; 310-659-6204) is a small neighborhood bar that boasts bartenders emphatic about the slogan “No Homophobes, No Heterophobes and No Assholes.”
The Palms (8572 Santa Monica Blvd.; 310-652-6188) is beholden to those Euro discos across the sea. It’s a lesbian bar in which you can dance, shoot pool, drink and dodge the lone drunken man who’ll shamelessly repeat the line “Is she bothering you?”
Rafters (7994 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-654-0396) has an amateur drag-queen gong show the first Saturday of each month, karaoke Wednesdays and Sundays, and a piano bar Fridays. Well-lit and a little classier than the Boulevard’s eastern bar brethren, but girlies be damned, this is a man’s bar.
Rage Restaurant and Bar (8911 Santa Monica Blvd.; 310-652-7055) is at night bathed in the club’s visual projections, video screens, flashing lights and topless dancing males.
Rainbow Bar & Grill (9015 Sunset Blvd.; 310-278-4232) crams rock-star photos and paraphernalia all over the walls. One can eat a full dinner until 2 a.m. and hope to spot some hungry rocker — Slash, say, or David Lee Roth.
Revolver (8851 Santa Monica Blvd.; 310-659-8851) is a typical video bar — typical in the sense that a bubbling waitress will pass out petite vials of something unidentifiable, while the entire male clientele stands dead center mesmerized by the myriad of diva-singing video screens.
The Roxy (9009 Sunset Blvd.; 310-276-2222) is a timeless rock venue with some territorial, aisle-clearing guards who really love their job. They’re loud shouters: “Don’t stand too close! Don’t block the aisles!”
Spike (7746 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-656-9343) has a self-proclaimed “cute” bartender who serves a few nights a week in this disco-lit, industrial/leather wasteland. Headless white torso busts are non-strategically scattered throughout its S&M mirrored expanse.
Tempest (7323 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-850-5115) deserves its gale-alias: Later in its nightclub evening — after dinner has been served —hip-hop and house music have been known to whip certain folk into a frenzy.
Trunks (8809 Santa Monica Blvd.; 310-652-1015) is a haven for men who know and will debate where along Santa Monica Boulevard to find all the fresh-and-young and old-and-washed-up porn stars.
Ultra Suede (661 N. Robertson Blvd.; 310-659-4551) is an ultra-’40s lounge that holds promos such as an ’80s night, a girl bar, and the monthly Taboo, a fetish evening fabulously full of black vinyl, stiletto heels, laced thigh boots and gimp/gas masks.
The Viper Room (8852 Sunset Blvd.; 310-358-1881) is smaller than one imagines the notorious club co-owned by Johnny Depp would be. Industry types and international tourists abound.
Whisky a GoGo (8901 Sunset Blvd.; 310-652-4202) proves that The Doors, The Germs and Guns N’ Roses have something in common. And you can generally trust the place to rock.