Check out Lina Lecaro's Year in Nightranger slideshow as she looks back at the beats, babes and booze-filled bashes that made '08 great.


It may have been the year the recession tightened its grip on households nationwide, but, in L.A. anyway, there were always a few bucks left in the budget for booze, beats and bashes in ’08. Truth be told, the escapist energy of our city’s still-booming nightlife was more necessary than ever. So as the year comes to a close, Nightranger offers its annual look back at the city’s sundry social scenes. From the gaucheness of VIPs and velvet ropes to the restless potency and panache of punk, goth, electro and undergroundish polysexual dance parties, here’s what changed, what raged and what made ’08 so great after dark.

On a brighter note, new boîtes were seemingly birthed every week, especially in Hollywood. The biggest was definitely The Kress, the boulevard’s gorgeous multilevel Vegas-style funhouse, which touts fancy food and foxy females (all vying for space on its exclusive rooftop). Speaking of fancy, Eva Longoria Parker and Todd English’s Beso debuted with lip-smacking bites and babes; Foxtail’s retro-fabulousness attracted big-name bootie. Apple Lounge brought a sweet new look and scene to WeHo; and STK and Coco Deville, along with impenetrable Villa and, more recently, BarDelux, had (and still have) the stalkerazzi swarming. On the Eastside, MedusaLounge conjured an ornate and outrageously gothic backdrop for equally eclectic dance parties, while Stinkers came to Silver Lake, adding a giant neon skunk to Sunset (and maybe the most curious bar name of the year). Downtown’s long-touted renaissance went full bore with L.A. Live, the multimillion-dollar complex that in ’08 debuted the mod-ish music venue the Club Nokia, the relocated adjacent Conga Room, and Lucky Strike Lanes, all of which bowled over tourists and bold names alike. The high-rises are alive with the sound of music like never before, and we’re liking it so far. Let’s just hope downtown doesn’t get too Tinseltowny in ’09.

The pricey cocktails, douchey dude come-ons and general crowd chaos that often come with clubbin’ can get old quick, so keeping events fresh is essential. Thankfully, nontraditional party pits were ubiquitous, too. Downtown warehouses got a workout from Blow Up L.A., while office spaces like the Zune building on Beverly, Nettwerk Records’ Sync Lounge, and stores like Nike at the Montalban and De La Barracuda on Melrose rocked our socks off with screenings, DJ events and live music galore. The museum scene (LACMA, MOCA, TheGetty, The Hammer and the Natural History) blinded us with science (and hot mix-master sounds). Art and music have always made sexy bedfellows, and galleries grooved like never before. World of Wonder went mad for Madonna and deified Dolly Parton, while Ghetto Gloss monkeyed around at its gallery/store and beyond (its Twilight at the Club brought golf to the punks in Griffith Park and hotties in guerrilla masks to La Cita). The re-opening of the legendary Zero One downtown brought seasoned slammers out like it was 1980 again. (Alas, though the art is top-notch, after a few hedonistic happenings early on, it failed to live up to its debauched past.)

Electro, nu-rave (call it what you will); the barely legal angular-haired hipster set were shaking their kicks (and their glow sticks) to techno-ish turntable sounds much like the year before at Giant at Vanguard, CinespaceTuesday, Dance at Arena,Tilt and The Heist. We preferred the slinky syncopations of Moroderesque disco stylings old and new, which transformed the divey domiciles of mixed clubs likeShits & Giggles, A Club Called Rhonda and Full Frontal into decadent dens of sexual liberation. And we’re still haunted by the darker sounds (and fetishy dress) at Hell at Ivar,Ruin and Affliction at Monte Cristo, and the Suicide Girls’ saucy indie-grind Club Suicide at the Echoplex (recently moved to theDragonfly). On the live-music front, it seemed everybody was showing off the biggies in their BlackBerry contact lists, with all-star jams crowding stages mostly on the Westside: Camp Freddy’s residency at the Roxy, Punk Rock Karaoke and Tom Morello’sNightwatchmen mashes, all of which proved that bringing bounteous rocker egos together on one stage can be powerful without being a power struggle. Corporate-sponsored soirees may have been a little less lavish than in years past, but SBE, The Alliance and Antics still found ways to get creative for their clients, with cool settings (sound stages, car washes and bowling alleys), big-name DJs and even bigger bands (SmashingPumpkins, StoneTemplePilots,theRaconteurs, FooFighters). Hell, scoring an invite to a cell-phone/car company fete made going to actual concerts almost unnecessary. We did brave our share though. Nightranger’s Top 10 list of most memorable nightlife moments even features a few band gigs along with the requisite dance-floor delirium and creative party frolicking. Check back here next week for a more fashion-minded flashback: our survey of ’08 scenester style.

LA Weekly