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The Places to Be Scene : L.A. Moves to Beats of Hip-Hop, Techo-Pop, Even ‘Raggamuffin’ Reggae-Rap in the Hippest Nightspots of ’91

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The following, listed alphabetically, were the outstanding Los Angeles clubs of 1991 as chosen by the men and women about town of the Social Climes staff.

MAIN SCENE:

Catch One. With lack of attitude, priceyness and the sometimes homogenous crowds that are the hallmarks of other mainstream venues, this two-level danceteria is working its way toward its 20th year in a city that recycles clubs annually.

Though the energized mix of house and pop music at the Crenshaw District club confines it to mainstream status, the crowds that gyrate on its expansive dance-hall-style floor are a smorgasbord of cultures.

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The catch in this neon-trimmed classic club is that it is a serious dance spot in a town where people are more inclined to learn to dress than learn the moves.

Catch One: 4067 W. Pico Blvd. Open seven days. Minimum age is 18; 21 to drink alcohol. Cover varies from $3 to $10, depending on the night and time. Information: (213) 734-8849.

Mayan. On size and grandeur alone, this downtown porno-theater-turned-club is rivaled in the Southland by few.

Only the Hollywood Palladium and Tijuana’s expansive Baby Rock come to mind. Mix in the Mayan decor, ever-changing set design, hard-to-get club acts and one of the hippest crowds west of the Mississippi, and Mayan becomes an unparalleled venue.

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Even so, Mayan owner Sammy Chao tries to keep his club from becoming stereotyped as mainstream by offering underground-style partying Friday nights that features mixes of techno music--a fast-beat hybrid of house and techno-pop. Saturdays are safe: By employing mixes of more mellow house music, Mayan tries not to shake up the coat-and-tie crowd too much.

But there’s more: Chao is converting the Velasco theater next door into a hall that will allow post-concert revelers who are 21 and up to head for the Mayan free. He hopes to open the new venue next month..

Mayan: 1038 S. Hill St. Open Friday and Saturday nights, weeknights for special events. Minimum age 21; cover $15. (213) 746-4287.

Roxbury. Though the music and decor can be staid and the doormen at times too polite to be real, the three-level Roxbury remains the night-life star-gazing capital in this capital of stars.

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Roxbury is quintessential Hollywood, with a dark, top-40 dance floor, a golden-glow jazz room and a VIP room that at times contains all the publicity this club needs--Kiefer, Julia, Arsenio, Eddie, Sly and others whose first names and friendly nods are enough to make up for the killer lines on weekend nights.

It’s not a dancer’s or even a drinker’s club: It’s one of the best gazer’s clubs in town. The $10 cover buys a sure sighting or two.

Roxbury: 8225 Sunset Blvd. Open Tuesday through Saturday (discotheque closed Wednesday). Minimum age is 21; cover $10. (213) 656-1750.

ALTERNATIVES:

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Aerial. This Saturday night club at the Hollywood Palladium is a true alternative, complete with the area’s best underground deejays, Doc Martin and Barry Weaver, club music acts from around the nation, freaky performance art and an Air Jump ride. Aerial is the most ambitious of a new crop of underground-style clubs popping up at mainstream venues.

Promoters Daven and Tef, both figures from the underground, are attempting to bring the trappings of underground “rave” parties--techno music and a carnival-like setting--to the masses.

True underground, it’s not. But for the alternative-minded, it’s a start.

Aerial: Saturday nights at the Hollywood Palladium, 6215 Sunset Blvd. Minimum age is 18; 21 to drink alcohol. Cover is $15 at the door or through Ticketmaster. (213) 962-7790. Boogie Lounge. Thursday nights, the Hollywood club Blak and Bloo is transformed into a funk house with deejay Rob Harris’ synchronized mixes of 1970s funk, 1980s hip-hop and 1990s “raggamuffin” reggae-rap.

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The crowd here is mainly twentysomethings with tendencies to shake their booties. Occasionally, Hollywood types will show. And L.A.-based rappers have been known to hijack the club’s PA system for some freestyle chat.

The inside of this club is dark, minimalist and pulsating.

The wee hours here are a New York-style happening as a sea of baseball-capped heads bobs to the Boogie Lounge’s heavy bass beat. But the attitude is all California--laid back.

Boogie Lounge: Thursday nights at Blak and Bloo, 7574 Sunset Blvd. Minimum age is 21; cover $10. (213) 876-1120. Sin-a-matic. This industrial-music dance spot in West Hollywood is for the ethically alternative. No stale hype. The club once barred a video jock from the nation’s biggest video-music network, then boasted “As Seen on MTV . . . Not!”

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Such is the philosophy at Sin-a-matic, an offshoot of Fetish and that Silver Lake club with the four-letter name.

The Sin-a-matic crowd Saturday night at Peanuts is all about black: leather, vinyl, skirts and jeans, even black-dyed hair.

With go-go dancers and a red-glow pool room, this spot is worth seeing. But don’t bring your camera crew.

Sin-a-matic: Saturday nights at Peanuts, 7969 Santa Monica Blvd. Minimum age is 18; 21 to drink alcohol. Cover is $6 before 11 p.m., $8 after. (213) 654-0280.

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