This flashy neighborhood can often get a bad rap from serious music lovers. But our list of the best clubs in Hollywood is the cream of the party-spot crop, whether you’re looking for a chill after-hours locale to wind down with a cocktail, a vibrant gay party laced with free drinks or a massive dance getdown where pretense is checked with the coats. Read on, party people.
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Sound has quickly made a name for itself among serious househeads and music lovers by delivering high profile acts that were doing dance music well before EDM hit the top 40. Sure, the new space has the markings of a typical Hollywood super club scene: 8,000 square feet of playspace with a sunken dance floor and elevated DJ booth, fancy 3D mapping visuals and a custom Funktion One sound system. But where it emerges ahead of other Hollywood clubs is its focus on the music (hence the name)—not by flaunting celebrity patrons or by playing into the hottest bottle service contest. Acts like Stanton Warriors turn out a Monday night crowd at Social—the 17-year-old landmark party has just set down roots at Sound—and burners find a second home at the club’s Friday party, where face painters, neon-clad dancers and green screen booths bring the spirit of La Playa to LaLa Land. The 500-capacity crowd basks in perks such as burlesque dancers, impromptu celebrity visitors and a frequent 4am closing time, all without the overcrowded feeling of a mega-club.
King King descends from a legendary, smoke-filled Chinese restaurant on South La Brea Avenue that used to host everything from acid jazz bands to DJ-driven parties that felt as illicit as they were artistic. It was a place of reprieve from a (then) metal-heavy Hollywood. The red-lit Hollywood reincarnation is larger and more mainstream but is still billed as an intimate, single-room space—complete with backdoor entrance—that retains its Chinese heritage via lucky red and black decor. The King King has become a go-to space for cabaret, theater and live music performances, but we love it most for the DJs and electronic music nights it features. Legendary house music pioneers like Miguel Migs and Mark Farina drop in to play house and Detroit techno sets at stalwart parties like DJ Marques Wyatt’s Deep and West Coast Soul Events. Of course, the music comprises only half of what makes a magical night out: King King has a friendly staff, wallet-friendly covers, and a rare-in-Hollywood, come-one-come-all inclusive door policy (Dude rolling solo? Come on in. Not-so-svelte house music lover in a t-shirt and sneakers? You’re good to go). Hence, the crowd it attracts keeps an old legend energized with packed dance floors and friendly vibes.
By the sheer look of the place, Lure has all the makings of another slick Hollywood club, where bottle service and bodycon dresses spur a sit-and-stare vibe. Consider the pulsating LED walls, galaxy of glowing moonlike orbs that hover above the dance floor, gorgeous honey-lit VIP bar and elevated DJ stage—all framed in a massive open room where everyone and everything can be seen. Then, venture out to the expansive patio, where you’ll find winding, white tufted banquettes in cabanas framed by green, living walls. The hostesses are remarkably attractive, and beautifully lit palm trees and footbridges over ponds also disorient—it feels more like a 5-star resort than a Hollywood club. It almost seems like a trap for big spenders in shiny shirts looking for no more than a little bump and grind. But Lure is also where some of the best DJs and acts are throwing down: beneath its beautiful façade, Lure is all about the beat. No cultural ground is being broken, and it can be expensive, but the casual and sexy LA vibe is certainly in full bloom.
Live music fiends used to get their fix by entering the Sayers Club via an unassuming hotdog shop. But SBE has commandeered the former Green Papaya to make for a more grown-up precursor to the Sayers experience: the Front Room. It’s fashioned after a neighborhood bar and lounge—the kind of place where you can order a woodfired pizza or a mean old fashioned. But the gunmetal tin-tile walls, which are punctuated with framed guitars, serve as a not-so-subtle tell: serious music lies just beyond the back wall. The actual club is a place where cozy Turkish rugs are piled atop hardwood floors, and whiskey leather couches, exposed brick walls and industrial touches make for a cozy (and exclusive) man cave away from home—well, if that man cave happened to belong to the most connected music buff in town. In this case, that buff is Jason Scoppa and he rules the musical roost. Scoppa is famous for orchestrating Bardot Sessions, now Sessions at the Sayers Club, in which both up-and-coming and world-famous musicians play cover tunes. Of course, it’s the performances from beloved groups like The Black Keys, impossible-to-see-outside-of-an-arena musicians like Prince and actors like Emmy Rossum that seal the Sayers' fate as the best little room in Hollywood to catch major—and sometimes unexpected—talent.
You know those grimy basement parties where you used to dance your face off during your raver years? That spirit lives on at Dim Mak Studios. For many, the gritty vibe, alleyway entrance and graffiti-covered stairways may be a little too hardknock. But for those seeking hear-'em-before-they-break live acts and DJ talent, a monster sound system and parties with a hyped crowd of young, creative types, Dim Mak Studios is the place to let loose. Helmed by DJ Steve Aoki, who created the Dim Mak lifestyle brand (which also includes a record label, events arm, t-shirt and accessories line and a surprising number of followers who brandish Dim Mak tattoos), the space delivers progressive one-off parties and has hosted an impressive roster of genre-spanning talent including Daft Punk, Skrillex, Lady Gaga, Bloc Party and Uffie in its nearly decade-long tenure.
Completed in 1927, this cavernous theater remains LA's preeminent superclub. Avalon’s nearly 90-year run is a feat in itself—how on earth does such a space maintain its staying power? Most likely, by offering exclusive perks you can’t find anywhere else. To start, Avalon is the only club in LA to have a 24-hour license. That means a non-stop offering of weekend-long fiestas and a bar that re-opens at 6am to reward those who danced all night. The club also has a stronghold when it comes to booking global DJ phenoms (Sasha and Marcus Schultz West Coast residencies were both forged here). Factor in its sheer size and its custom sound system—which delivers one of the most delightfully chest-thumping experiences in LA—and you’ve got a legendary space that’s ready to party whenever you are. Check out powerhouse and trance EDM sets by full-time touring DJs like Paul Van Dyk, Beat Service and Lazy Rich. Play with the pop tarts at Tigerheat, the Thursday night jam for the 18 and over, polysexual set. Or hit up Control for more underground-driven house and drum and bass sounds from the likes of DJs Justin Martin, Photek and UZ. There's nary any trance, so leave the glow-sticks at home. And bring earplugs: the venue boasts the best sound system in the city, a floorshaking EAW Avalon Series set-up that cost a cool $1 million.
The driving forces behind this new club in the old Vangaurd space are collaboration and versatility. SBE Entertainment and Insomniac (creators of the rave-tastic Wonderland and Electronic Daisy Carnival festivals) join forces to create sleek and expansive spaces (an SBE trademark) and book both emerging DJ talent and high-profile EDM artists (something Insomniac’s been doing for years). The result is a three-room, 20,000 square foot space featuring the epic Funktion One Sound System, a 300-foot performance zip line for aerial stunts and Hollywood’s largest LED wall. Those looking to downshift and desensitize can find respite on a tree-lined patio illuminated by simple strands of party lights and watched over by a giant Buddha. Though this major production of a club may not seem like the type to forgo bottle service at private tables for a general admission and open dancefloor format, versatility is found in different club nights, making it not only a great place to pop bottles in booths, but a bonafide space to sweat it out to EDM festival trance and house headliners like DJs BT, Dash Berlin, Eric Prydz, Thomas Gold and Dirty South.
Located above dance powerhouse Avalon is its far classier sister lounge, Bardot. Decorated to look both upscale art deco and laid-back Moroccan harem, this intimate venue typically draws an attractive mix of hipsters and young Westsiders. The intimate spot makes for the perfect after-the-after-party landing pad: neither sprawling warehouse nor dank drug den, this 300-capacity, indooor/outdoor space is a sweet setting to nurture your fragile after-hours party state into sunrise. Drop in for one-off parties that run from 4am to 7am (at that hour, crowds can’t afford to be pretentious and Bardot is as welcoming and good natured as they come). Catch the sunrise over the Capitol Records building via the club’s retractable roof or join the party at a more reasonable hour, with Friday’s Frenzy party (which brings veteran house DJs like Hipp-E and Halo) and the long-running School Night! on Mondays. No matter the hour, Bardot attracts a musically educated, no-judgments crowd. Drinks are good yet pricey, and bouncers are relatively friendly considering the central Hollywood location.
While this club space is neither particularly notable in size or aura, it’s the Tuesday night parties that make the place rise above the Hollywood heap. Luke Nero and Andres Rigal create a kickin’ gay party with Evita, which brings out a very friendly and frisky crowd and boasts special guest hosts like the one-and-only Amanda Lepore. Their secret to party excellence? Killing the cover charge, throwing the occasional album release party (like for The Pet Shop Boys’ latest) and offering an hour-long open bar that puts vodka and bubbly in the hands of every fashionably early and dressed-up attendee. Resident DJs provokes the crowd so deftly that vogue-ing competitions ensue, making this one of the most fun club nights in Hollywood.