dim lights big city

In Los Angeles, there are clubs you go to for music, and clubs you go for what I guess you’d call a certain kind of Scene, and The Scene — or at least This Scene — happens on weeknights. Because the cool kids don’t have regular 9-5 jobs. The cool kids don’t make such clearcut distinctions between work and play: work runs into play runs into work, until whether it’s a Monday night or a Saturday night turns meaningless. Except: Fridays and Saturdays are when the masses invade, and contaminate, the clublife — dressing up and renting limos for their big night out –so the cool kids take The Scene elsewhere, retreating, perhaps, to the high lush hills and the houses there.

But during the week, The Scene floats from club to club, depending on the night and whatever handful of clubs are hot at the moment. I hadn’t been to any in a long while: when I left them, the hardest club to get into was probably the Roosevelt — actually, it was a club called the Tropicana within the Roosevelt Hotel, but everyone called it the Roosevelt, since the ‘club’ was actually the hotel’s pool and patio, roped off at night, only the cool kids granted access, while the hotel’s own paying customers were refused, turned away, and they got pissed off and complained to the manager, as was their right, but of course nobody cared — and right now it’s probably…Well, damned if I know…Five minutes ago it was Hyde, a tiny nothing-looking building just off Sunset that houses a rectangle of a lounge done up in warm earthy tones with a retro feel, and now it’s something else, and five minutes from now it will be something else, perhaps the new club that Hyde will inevitably turn into once The Scene gets bored and moves on (an ‘it’ club has a lifespan of maybe six months).

The music is the same. The crowd is mostly very pretty. The clubs get around the no-smoking law by staging an elaborate patio. The VIP tables that line the richly-hued rooms have a two-bottle minimum, and those bottles of gin and vodka and tequila and champagne are marked up to a point that would seem insane and obscene almost anywhere else: four hundred dollars for Belvedere, seven hundred fifty for Cristal. And people compete for those tables, because the only way to ensure getting past that velvet rope — unless you’re famous, or extremely hot, or On The List, or friends with the doorman — is to book a table. Plus it’s nice to have a place to sit down, especially if you’re a woman in three- or four-inch heels.

Friends of ours, who were supposed to get married somewhere exotic and tropical, broke off their engagement; she went to her mother’s place in Arizona to regroup and he went to Les Deux on Wednesday night and Hyde on Thursday. Some people joined him there, including my husband and me. The model/actress/waitresses now wear short shorts instead of miniskirts– shorts quite the fashion at the moment — and in addition to the usual forms of overpriced alcohol, Les Deux offers ‘a cupcake tower’: big cupcakes and little cupcakes arranged around a stack of trays, positioned on your table among the stacked glasses and pitchers of orange juice, tonic water, cranberry juice, and whatever bottles your party ordered to make (or exceed) the table’s minimum. I got a kick out of this. Cupcakes.

Dave Navarro was at a booth at the back, providing that night’s celebrity sighting. He was short, hot, surprisingly young-looking for his 37 hard-lived years — and flanked by young blondes who smiled and flirted and had their pictures taken with him.

The Scene, or whatever you want to call it, is hollow and superficial and seductive and fun. You’re glad to get back to it and relieved to get away from it. You learn to take it in moderation, like any potentially addictive and unhealthy substance. For those who are in the thick of it — and often in the tabloids — I suppose it becomes reassuring in a way, familiar, almost like your home away from home, one where your decor keeps changing and your guests refuse to leave. It becomes the place you go — not any club in particular, but The Scene in general — when you don’t have anything or anyone back at your apartment or your loft or your house or your beachhouse. And since the vast majority of us come to this city from other places, a certain kind of homelessness is what we have in common. You might even say it defines us.

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