Grand Slam a Sure Hit

Vertigo has undergone a royal personality change. Now called Glam Slam and part of rock star Prince's empire, the club that once maintained one of L.A.'s most restrictive door policies is now the most open.

The mysterious (and lawsuit-inducing) dress code that kept the unwanted at bay has been replaced by cordial doormen. It's little unnerving, like being waved though Bulgarian customs by a smiling agent--you knew there'd been a revolution but didn't realize it went quite this far.

"I see that New York door policy stuff as a thing of the past," says general manager Glyn Samuel. "It's now about being accessible to everybody. In this economy, if you alienate someone they're not coming back."

The door policy is only the first change that greets a Glam Slam guest. What comes next are all the changes the new management, which also owns clubs in Minneapolis and Yokohama, has made.

The new look comes from Prince. However employees say they can't talk about him. The furthest they'll go, and this after a whispered discussion, is to say he "is the creative force behind the club."

Whoever re-decorated did a good job. In its late '80s heyday, Vertigo was a prime specimen of the industrial look. No cement was too bare or iron too exposed. The idea was that well-dressed patrons would provide the color.

The current trend is for clubs to be made inviting with lots of velvet, nooks, Oriental carpets and wood paneling. Given the constraints of the structure, it would almost be impossible to remake Vertigo in this style. But the designers have made good use of strengths (it was built from scratch to be a club) while warming up the naked concrete look.

The walls are painted black. The dance floor has a subtle purple stain and above it a 20-foot movie screen plays "video wall paper"--endless bits of movies. There's a repetition of padded, multicolor diamond shapes on the walls to add some color.

There's a lot more purple, the creative force's signature color. The dance floor has a brass inlay of his vaguely Egyptian/biological "love sign." On prominent display is the ornate Victorian bed he used in a music video. There's a room overlooking the dance floor where he can view the dancing. (When he's in town he visits. Now he's on tour.)

Perhaps the biggest addition is an upgrading of the sound and light system. All clubs say they have state of the art, but the staff says Prince wants "beyond state of the art."

It would appear he's got it. The speakers put out enough bone-jarring bass to send a signal to the center of the Earth, and the lights do so many tricks the staff says it takes two people to handle the console.

Managing partner Steve Edelson says the best possible sound and light effects are needed because "in the '90s, a nightclub needs more than a spinning mirrored ball, some smoke and a little Gloria Gaynor."

The club not only handles a large (1,250) dance crowd, but is used for concerts as well. Friday and Saturday are hard-core dance nights; the rest of the week offers a potpourri that changes nightly. Recent events have ranged from a performance by rapper Ice Cube to the wrap party for Penny Marshall's latest film.

Though the club takes pains to make celebs feel at home with a VIP room and special staff catering to their needs, its core following is a working-class crowd that comes to dance. In the end, that's why Glam Slam works so well.

* Where: Glam Slam, 333 S. Boylston St. 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. weekdays. (213) 482-6626.

* Cost: Friday and Saturday $15, free before 10:30 p.m. During the week, call for costs of special events. Beers are $4, $5 and $6 (for Ngok, a brew from the Congo). Dinner is about $20 a person.

* Dress: Upscale. Jeans, T-shirts and tennis shoes are what the club doesn't want. Though jeans worn with a sports jacket would be OK, to combine the three undesirable clothes groups "would be the ultimate sin," says Samuel.

* Door Policy: First come, first served. Really. 21 and over, except Sunday when it's 18 and over.

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