Los Angeles: Dusk Till Dawn
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A Night at the H. Wood

Let's Go | The dance floor at 12:30, full of excitement and desire.

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“Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk — real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious.”

- Jack Kerouac

“Hollywood is not really a geographic designation. It’s more of a vibe.”

- Andrew Brin

The club H. Wood is awkwardly grafted onto the west side of the Hollywood and Highland mall, like an expensive wing on a cheap house. It used to be a Burger King, before they brought in the exposed brick walls and wood paneling.

Andrew Brin stands behind a velvet rope. He glances up from his iPhone to see a kid in a hoodie walking up the stairs. Andrew recognizes him. He’s the son of some executive. Katzenberg. Or maybe Moonves. Yeah, Moonves. Andrew unclips the rope.

“What’s up,” he says, his short greeting, interchangeable with, “Hi, come on,” “Welcome,” the singing, “Heeeeyyyy!” and even the occasional “Shalom!”

Three girls approach him next. He looks at them for a beat. They don’t realize, but he’s doing a quick calculation. Are they looking their best? It’s less about physical attractiveness, and more about wardrobe. Do they belong?

He lets them in, perhaps a bit reluctantly. There was a time when Andrew was a lot pickier, maybe three, four, five years ago, in the days of Les Deux and Guy’s. Before bottle service put a price tag on exclusivity and thus destroyed it.

You enter through the outdoor restaurant. The vibe is light, the music muffled from far away. The night starts down here. The crowd builds up, and at a certain point, reaches a critical mass, and people stream upstairs to the dance floor.

Within twenty minutes, the dance floor can go from being almost empty to completely full. The energy couldn’t be more different, all nervous excitement and longing. Whereas in the restaurant, people respect each other’s personal space, upstairs on the dance floor, boundaries are a state of mind. A girl will think nothing of coming up to you, putting her arm on your shoulder, gently nestling her face in your ear and then shouting some inane question like, “WHY AREN’T YOU DANCING?” or a statement like, “I DON’T KNOW ANYONE HERE.”

Most people in the club fall into one of four categories: (1) those that feel completely comfortable because they know everyone and go out all the time; (2) those that feel fairly comfortable because they came with a group of people and anyway they’re only here to get drunk and dance; (3) those that feel uncomfortable because they don’t know anyone here (and these people rarely get in and don’t stay very long); (4) those that claim they feel uncomfortable because they “never go out” but in reality know half the people here, or they meet someone rather quickly and easily. It’s hard to tell if these people are simply lying or just hopelessly mercurial.

The party peaks between 12 and 1, and for about 30 minutes the dance floor is so packed, the excitement so contagious, the feeling of good will so palatable, that it’s hard not to have a great time. The room is dark, and every 10 seconds or so you’re blinded by the disco ball or the flash of a camera. The music is loud, too loud to hold a conversation, which doesn’t stop people from trying. I suspect everyone in the room talking is just pretending they can hear what the other person is saying. Any communication at all is communication enough, a signal of interest.

I watch a guy and a girl meet on the dance floor. She's flirtatious, with large, sad eyes. He's tall, with a bowler hat and a moustache. They begin to dance, playfully and ironic at first. Then closer, more serious, even though the beat is still pumping like a piston. They don’t say more than a few words to each other.

Twenty minutes later they’re leaving together. The girl looks bashful as she says goodbye to Andrew. Then the guy gently takes her by the hand and leads her toward the valet.

- Hillel Aron

The Half-Life of a Party
Parties in Los Angeles follow a predictable timetable
A History of Bottle Service
Bottle service put a price tag on getting in, and deflated its value.

The stories: 24 Hour Diner | Bicycle Kitchen | Club Hwood | Crime Scene | Flower Market | Food Trucks | Ghost Hunters
Hollywood Park | Night at the Museum | Night Golf | Night Productions | Santa Monica Pier | Starry Night | Wig Out

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Background photo by MikeFinkelstein