The Alligator Steps Outside for Fresh Air


If you see red when you venture inside the Alligator Lounge, arguably the best live music venue on the Westside, it's no accident. From head to toe, the interior of the 300-capacity club is painted a hell-inspired red.

In the past, the color was an apt metaphor for customers' body temperatures on a packed and heated night, a common occurrence at the intimate lounge. Now they've let some air into the picture by adding a patio. It's not much: Just enough space for four tables, with an ivy-covered fence blocking the view of the Santa Monica Freeway and some trash bins. But to regulars it's a godsend--from now on, when you can't take the heat, you can get out of the kitchen.

This isn't the only visible change at the Alligator, a 7-year-old venue that made its initial impact as a blues, roots and Cajun joint when longtime owner and booker Milt Wilson was at the helm (Wilson died in 1994).

The booking policy installed two years ago by Deborah Randall, who now owns the club with her husband, Robbie, has become more expansive, featuring events such as New Music Monday, an eclectic jazz happening conducted weekly by Nels Cline, whose trio is the usual headliner. As the only all-ages alternative-rock venue in its district, the Alligator has also become an underground rock haven, with the focus on its free Tuesday shows. KXLU-FM (88.9)--the radio savior for the Southland's music-thirsty youth--is hosting its 25th "Demolisten" night on Tuesday, featuring Starsky, Touchcandy, the Millionaires and Sleestak.

You'll still find a taste of country and rootsy rock 'n' roll at the Alligator, which features a surprisingly full-bodied sound system. In fact, during any given week numerous genres are covered. And that's really the club's appeal. In this case, broader is definitely better.

* The Alligator Lounge, 3321 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. All ages, cover varies. (310) 449-1844.

Club Buzz: Punk fans might want to check out the Dragonfly tonight, with the Dwarves scheduled to play a midnight set--the band's first live show in three years. The show will feature the original lineup from the San Francisco group's destructive '80s heyday. Opening acts include local faves Plexi and Don Knotts Overdrive. . . . Fans of Bossa Nova, the popular Thursday night club operated by deejays Jason Bentley and Bruno Guez, will be happy to know it's now thriving at the Pink in Santa Monica.

* Dragonfly, (213) 466-6111. Bossa Nova at the Pink, (310) 392-1077.

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