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In the Pink

Strolling down Santa Monica’s tony Main Street, it’s hard to remember what the area looked like a decade ago, when it was the beach community’s version of Skid Row. Blackie’s, one of L. A.'s first punk clubs, is now the site of Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois on Main. Galleries and boutiques have replaced coin laundries and thrift shops. On warm nights, Main Street is crowded with tourists and locals out for a stroll.

Back during Main Street’s pre-yuppie incarnation, the Pink Elephant was a grungy little danceteria that drew straights and gays. The interior burned in the mid-'80s, and when the club was rebuilt and reopened five years ago, it had a new name--the Pink--and a new image as a combination discotheque and theater. And although David Bowie, Iman, and Kathleen Turner have all graced the club’s banquettes, this is a place where everyone can feel comfortable, says co-owner Jeff West.

“We get a mixed crowd, straight and gay,” says West, who reopened the Pink with partner Richard Condon. The Pink’s door policy is democratic, as dance clubs go. Customers line up at the back door in the alley, an entrance unmarked except for the address and a discreet "$10" painted on the bricks. Club-goers flash I. D., slip the doorman a ten-spot, and are inside, weaving across the dance floor to the bar, engulfed in energy, miniskirts and rolled-up T-shirts showing off Nautilized pecs and Thighmastered gams.

Before the dancing starts, though, the Pink serves as a theater, with a portable stage erected on the dance floor.

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Wednesdays are gay nights at the Pink, and Sunday afternoons feature a “tea dance,” catering to an after-beach crowd. July 3 brought the Pink’s fifth annual “Wet and Wild” party, in which each entrant is issued a squirt gun.

On a recent evening, an Andrea True look-alike gyrates, balancing expertly on platform heels. Across from her is the reincarnation of Patrick Kelly, complete with overalls, wire-framed glasses and painter’s cap. Others are wearing leather and tattoos, others neo-beach wear and there’s even a preppie or two. At the Pink, anything--and everyone--goes.

Name: The Pink.

Where: 2810 Main St., Santa Monica. (213) 392-1077.

When: Wednesdays-Saturdays from 10:30 p.m., Sundays from 4 p.m.

Doormen: Businesslike and efficient.

Prices: Cover varies, generally $10. Domestic beer, $4.


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