One of those Swingers Hidden Bars

So last night I made it out of the house and to a comedy show a friend of mine hosts once a month. I’ve only been attempting to make it for the past few months. I thought I knew where it was held, but as I drove down Sunset, I realized I was thinking of Twisted Spade, a poker club, not Three of Clubs that I was trying to get to. Clubs, Spades, you can understand my confusion.

And it turns out it was held at one of the bars featured in the movie Swingers. They even had the Swingers soundtrack on the jukebox, just in case you didn’t know.

There were two parts to the bar: the one that is obvious from the street, on Vine, with a security guard out front on a stool, and a small light blue neon sign over the door that simply reads “Cocktails.” The building is completely non-descript, made of cinder blocks and part of a mini-mall behind a gas station on Santa Monica. You enter the door the security dude guards, and into the darkness you go. It is very dimly lit. Bench seating surround round tables, very generously grouped tables to an area, so entire groups of people can take over an area. There is the long wooden bar with its stools that runs most of the length of the room, and in the back there is another grouping of tables, but raised above the rest of the room.

And to the right, in a well lit area with two built in benches on either side of a pair of padded doors, is the other bar area, with a little stage, rising areas from the main floor for an audience to gather, and we managed to pack 75 people into that back room. It had a separate entrance that went into the mini-mall’s parking lot. Everything was wood and red and velvet, and considering the cinder block exterior, seemed from a different era, perhaps even an alternate reality like the Tardis.

And after the comedy show was over with its – what, 8 comedians performing? – we were kicked out of the back bar and forced into the front bar with two indifferent bartenders presiding. After fiddling with the CD jukebox to see the entire selection, I spotted a very dark corner with a table and chair no one was using, and sat down. It didn’t take long before I was joined by others. Apparently sitting in a very dark corner of a bar makes you extremely attractive to others. No complaints here, as I had a couple of very entertaining conversations about technology and agoraphobia with two very different people, quite drunk. I wasn’t drinking, because I was driving, and it was also one of the reasons this place was selected by my friend, because there was no drink minimum nor cover charge.

Next month’s shindig will happen at the same place again, but this time with bands to follow. Comedy at 8, bands at 10. And now that I know where it is, I might actually take the subway to get there, even though the subway stop at Hollywood and Vine isn’t that close, but it isn’t that prohibitively far of a walk either.

By the time my friend the emcee and I left at a little after 1, there were only a few people left in the bar. So quiet, nice, dark and uncrowded. I didn’t realize such a place existed in Hollywood. I was happy to have my expectations shattered.

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