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L.A.'s French Quarter : Louis XIV on La Brea is a favorite of denizens of dance music scene.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In accordance with Stereotyping 101, people are supposed to believe the French are a surly lot, but whoever concocted this conclusion just wasn’t invited to the right parties. At Louis XIV, a French-owned and -operated restaurant and nightclub on a quiet stretch of La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles, the environment is definitively sociable--the antithesis of the French cliche.

Crackshot deejays perform at Louis XIV (pronounced Louis quator) nightly, while owner Jean Louis Bartoli strolls from table to table, visiting with his customers--many of whom clearly have become an extended family. Although he opened the restaurant 10 years ago, in recent years, it’s become an oasis for the global denizens of the dance music scene. “When I first started playing ‘dance’ music, no one liked it,” says Bartoli, who--as a deejay himself--treats the deejays who perform at his club with a respect bordering on reverence. That was five years ago, and a lot has changed, what with grunge out and electronica in.

Although deejays perform at Louis XIV an average of six nights a week, the core of the scene can be witnessed at Monday’s Social, a weekly event started a little over a year ago by promoters Mick Cole and Freddy Be. Cole is the U.S. manager for Deconstruction Records, a pivotal U.K. dance label featuring such artists as Beth Orton and Death in Vegas, and Be operates his own label, Soul Vibration.

Between the two of them, they put together a night that celebrates the stars of this new music frontier, the “turntable-ists,” so to speak. Everyone seems to know everyone, and the mood is relaxed and comfortable. As the dinner patrons clear out upstairs, the second level dining area is transformed into a small dance floor and guests are treated to the latest in electronic music. Depending on who’s at the helm, the music varies from slow groove to progressive house, with the occasional doses of hip-hop and drum ‘n’ bass.

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Guest deejays range from the two-man unit the Bud Brothers to Todd Roberts, whose day job is vice president of artists and repertoire at Virgin Records. Louis XIV’s colorful, art-heavy environment offers the ideal setting for the post-rave generation. Serving only organic vegetables and meats, Louis XIV’s atmosphere is vibrant enough to still stimulate the senses, but the restaurant functions more like the after-party for the warehouse set.

Beyond the Monday Social, such deejays as Eli Star, Holly Kat and Ty can be found upstairs keeping the music flowing during the rest of the week.

“This scene has an aura of peacefulness,” says Bartoli. “It’s the music of a different generation; they have a different way of thinking. It’s important to understand that.”

Perhaps that’s why it’s become a small mecca for everyone from the top deejays of the world--the Chemical Brothers, Talvin Singh, Norman Cook, the Propellerheads and Jason Bentley are among Louis XIV’s enthusiasts--to such philosophers as Terrence McKenna and Timothy Leary, who was a frequent customer before he died. Bartoli, who was born in Corsica and raised in Marseilles, first came to Los Angeles on a vacation in 1985. It took him little time to decide the city was for him, and he began deejaying at Club Brazil, until a pivotal chance meeting with hair mogul Paul Mitchell. “He told me if I ever wanted to do my own restaurant, to talk to him,” says Bartoli, who took Mitchell up on the offer and, the rest, as they say, is “hee-story.” Bartoli, who plans to celebrate Louis XIV’s 10th anniversary in April ’98, says he’s still as enthusiastic as ever.

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“I do it for the love,” says Bartoli. “I do it for me.”

BE THERE

Louis XIV, 606 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 934-5102. 21 and over, occasional cover.


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