A sparkily black low ceiling. A rich burgundy bar enveloped by cozy black booths. Each room just barely lit in red, enhancing the features of all who enter. Billie Holiday sings in whispers in the background.
This may sound like a set design for Quentin Tarantino's latest gangster opus, but it's actually the reality for Three Clubs--a 2-year-old Hollywood venue popularly known as the Three of Clubs. Defying the odds, Three Clubs--which revamped a veritable hole-in-the-wall bar to become the Hollywood place for singles--has gotten only trendier as the venue has aged.
The two-room bar puts people in the mood by playing jazz that's not standard, avoiding predictable numbers in favor of more obscure tracks from the likes of Sinatra or Holiday. As the weekend approaches, vintage Rolling Stones can be heard alongside "James Bond" covers and Tom Waits, and Sunday night offers live jazz performances. The clarity of Three Clubs' sound system makes the music an unavoidable part of the room's experience, and as the evening wears on, and singles are making their last attempt to mingle, each song takes on a more personal edge.
One recent last call, as if on cue, a Waits ode to a woman who sits near him in a bar came over the speaker system. "I hope that I don't fall in love with you," sang Waits, " 'Cause falling in love just makes me blue."
To those still attempting conversation around the oval-shaped bar, the irony wasn't lost.
* Three Clubs, 1123 Vine St . , Hollywood . Phone number unlisted.