Nightranger: Mi Casa vs. Su Casa

Credit: Photo by Lina LecaroLove is all around: Gravy Trains Chunx gets down with Sugar and Golds Philipp Minning. (Photos by Lina Lecaro)

Mi Casa vs. Su Casa

Go out a lot, and soon two L.A. nightlife environs start to stand out from the rest: the ultraswanky star-fucker lair (Hyde, Winstons, Teddy’s, etc.) and the lowbrow shabby shack (Little Joy, La Cita). Though they seem to be polar opposites, with very different inhabitants, both have earned the disdain of those not within their respective orbits. It’s easy to hate on Tinseltown’s velvet ropers, yet Eastside dive dwellers seem to be amassing their own detractors. But why? The intentionally messy-tressed keep it real, don’t they? We decided to find out last week by looking into the unfettered hot spot of the moment: La Cita — specifically, its Thursday-night party from Dance Right. Yeah, we’re a bit behind the club curve (remember, we did take off to have a bambino!), but rest assured, this downtown club on Hill Street is still mucho coolio, which means the Westsiders have not invaded . . . yet.

Bringing to mind the enchilada-friendly feel of El Chavo on Sunset, red lights, torn seats and all, La Cita is a very festive room, a perfect backdrop for the late-’80s mini–truck jams spun by DJ Diabetic (a.k.a. Obey’s Shepard Fairey) and his aptly named cohort DJ Pube$ (he’s got really curly hair, okay?). There’s a tiny mariachi stage just off the dance floor, but on our visit it was filled with cute Asian gals in mismatched vintage and the usual pseudo-heshers gyrating to Vanity 6’s “Nasty Girl” and Debbie Deb’s “Lookout Weekend.” These kids were feeling it, so much, in fact, that one studded-belt boy kept insisting we join him onstage for some “Freakzoid” action. Too ironic? Maybe, but the feel on the floor was friendly, not phony.

Now we just gotta see if the same holds true for La Cita’s other disheveled dance fest, Friday’s Punky Reggae from the Part Time Punks and Dub Club dudes. Currently, other events include Zeros & Villains (featuring KXLU DJs), a hip-hop, ’80s and disco party called Forever Shenehneh, and, on weekends, Hacienda Nights — which retain the space’s original Latin crowd with live Tejano, norteño, ranchera and salsa bands — though word is, the weekday cliques are starting to mix in with the muchachas. Co-owner Carl Lofgren (the Scene Bar), whose partners include Dave Neupert of the Shortstop, the Scene and Footsies, tells us he’s waiting on permits so they can throw parties out on the restaurant’s outdoor patio, and if all goes to plan, summer at La Cita’s gonna be caliente!

Whisked Away

Downtown drinking dens just keep pourin’ in, but none has the alcohol connoisseur in mind like Cedd Moses’ newest, Seven Grand. Though its official grand opening isn’t till May 10, you can check it out now, while it’s in the soft opening phase. With plaid carpeting, leather seating, antlered taxidermy, and museumlike dioramas behind glass cases (Hitchcockian birds in the ladies’ room, and a big display near the entrance inspired by Dick Cheney’s hunting accident), it’s as much a feast for the eyes as for the alkie palate. Nightranger popped into the old-school-style space — think hunting lodge meets a much nicer Musso & Frank — last week, and though not up for the house specialty (we chugged a little too much Jack during the metal years), we were impressed by the whiskey display. There are more than 130 kinds, including rare ryes, which Moses says no other bar in L.A. has, plus a large selection of imported beers and other libations, all of which can be appreciated at full potency thanks to ice from a special machine that, Moses told us, melts very, very slowly, thereby not diluting the flavor or buzz factor of the booze. The place will have sounds booked by Spaceland/the Echo’s Mitchell Frank and Liz Garo and the opening party will have a bourbon BBQ manned by Jim Beam’s son, bluegrass bands and (we hope) a special surprise music guest we can’t yet reveal. Let’s just say he’s on the road again next week — and he’s sure to love the bar’s moonshine selection.

{mosimage}Basement Slaxx

Speaking of Mr. Frank, his latest music venue, the Ex-Plex, has been open for a couple months now, and we finally got to see it for ourselves last Saturday, when much-hyped U.K. rave-rockers Klaxons made their U.S. debut there. The new space in the Echo’s basement is big, black and surprisingly beautiful (neither shabby nor grossly celeb-swanky — though we did hear Drew Barrymore and Spike Jonze hung there recently).

Unfortunately, the Dim Mak–promoted show was way dark and packed, so we can’t tell you who was there, but there was a ridiculous amount of blasé-seeming babes in ugly sunglasses and weird hats. There were a lot of glow sticks too. The band translated its thrashy riffs and trancey rhythms pretty well onstage, but when it came to unadulterated fun, it was no contest against the acts who played upstairs at Hang the DJs (the entrance of which was pure chaos, since Ex-Plex used the same door). The Scissor Sisters–ish sass of Sugar and Gold, featuring pumps-and-pearls-wearing singer Philipp Minnig (who’s straight!), was jubilant, and the sexed-up shenanigans of S.F.’s Gravy Train a wild ride as always. Synchronized dance moves, lascivious lyrics, wacky outfits and bare butts. What’s not to love? Unfortunately, the HTDJs crowd loved the Train a little too much: When a posse of punkettes jumped onstage to dance with the group, singer Chunx (who’s not so chunky anymore) got bounced around like a rag doll and she was noticeably PO’d. So was everybody else in the house when the set was cut short soon after, though there’s nothing like a little late-’80s freak muzik — obviously the scenester soundtrack right now — to make peeps dance-happy again. Look out (next) weekend!

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