The San Fernando Valley doesn't come to mind when you think “iconic clubs,” but in the 1980s the West Valley was the place to see acts like Tom Petty, Merle Haggard, Metallica and U2.
The Reseda Country Club, located on Sherman Way near Reseda Boulevard, has a rich history. Now a church, its notoriety lives on in the film Boogie Nights.
After starting as a Sav-On drug store in the 1950s, the club came together after renowned club owner Chuck Landis (The Roxy, Largo) saw an opportunity to expand into the Valley. When Reseda Country Club opened in 1980 it was billed as a space for country western music — that's where it got its name — but it was originally known for punk and new wave, and then rock and roll.
Celebrated promoter Jim Rissmiller managed the venue until 1984, bringing in top acts like B.B King, Iggy Pop, Roxy Music, Captain Beefheart, Slayer and James Brown. The 1,000 person capacity spot also saw Mick Jagger shoot several music videos there and MTV hold events including a New Year's Eve party and an awards show after-party concert by Prince.
The acoustics were highly praised, and the shows were often sold out. U2 had their first Los Angeles concert there, in March of 1981. But Rissmiller left after becoming depressed following business partner Steve Wolf's murder, leaving Landis to push on alone. He introduced more hard rock and metal acts, and the venue also became home to boxing matches half of the week, dividing its audience.
Still, it continued to host memorable concerts, including in 1989 one of the Beastie Boys' only shows in support of Paul's Boutique, footage of which can be seen in the video for “Shadrach.” But the club became plagued with neighborhood complaints about noise, crime and rumors of underage drinking.
It was featured in Paul Thomas Anderson's 1997 hit film Boogie Nights as a disco-era club club called Hot Traxx; with its low-lighting, huge dance floor and disco balls it fit the vibe of the movie perfectly; it was shot almost entirely within blocks of the venue.
It's not exactly clear when it closed. No one seems to know — we suspect the late '90s. Also presumably around this time Landis sold the property and it was converted into a Spanish language Church.
For the last decade, then, it has been the spiritual home for first-generation Latin American immigrants in the West Valley. Restauracion Reseda has taken over the Country Club; the large leather booths and bar are gone, replaced by video screens for projected hymns lyrics and a simple stage for the choir and pastor. Rest assured that the acoustics are still excellent.
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