Club Pays Patrons to Dance but Police Cut In on Fast Footwork

Times Staff Writer

In an apparent attempt to evade a recent order revoking its dance permit, the controversial Odyssey club gave each of its teen-age patrons $1 Wednesday night to dance as “paid entertainers,” authorities said.

The apparent subterfuge ended, however, when police cited the club’s owners for allowing dancing at the Westside establishment without a city permit, Lt. John Ferguson said Thursday.

Officers also informed the owners that they might be in violation of federal labor laws, such as Social Security, minimum wage and child labor statutes, said Bill Cowdin, board secretary to the Los Angeles Police Commission.

Cowdin called the paid dancing “a clever attempt” to skirt the Police Commission’s Tuesday ruling revoking the club’s dance permit. The commission’s action followed years of complaints by the club’s neighbors that teen-agers who frequent the Odyssey use alcohol and drugs, are noisy and openly urinate and engage in sex outside the club at 8741 Beverly Blvd.

Club co-owner Scott Harvey said Thursday the club agreed to pay $1 to customers “who wanted to perform for other customers.” Harvey described the arrangement as “contract labor.”


“But we’re not going to do that anymore,” Harvey said, adding that he plans to convert the club from a dance hall to a “major entertainment complex” presenting live music groups. In any case, Harvey vowed, “We’ll definitely stay open.”

Noting, however, that the Odyssey would continue to cater to the same clientele of young people, Harvey contended that revoking the dance permit “is not going to alleviate any alleged problems” that neighbors have had with the club.

“The whole thing is ridiculous,” he said. “The same people will come and all the same problems will be allowed to continue. . . . It makes no sense. Why can people listen to a live band all night long but not be allowed to dance?”

Harvey said the live music performances will actually be an interim measure while the club appeals the Police Commission’s order in court. On Wednesday, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge denied the club’s request for an injunction to prevent the permit from being revoked until the issue is resolved in court.

A group of patrons has banded together to express support for the troubled club, according to David Gibb, an 18-year-old Santa Monica Community College student, who calls the club his “second home.”

Gibb said the group is soliciting signatures on petitions to be presented to city officials and is inviting patrons to protest by dancing in front of the club over the weekend.

“If we can’t dance inside, we’ll dance outside,” he said.