Finding Room at the Factory

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Factory/Ultra Suede nightclub, the new 15,000-square-foot venue at the old Love Lounge/Axis site, represents good, smart business. Owners Sandy Sachs and Nate Goller teamed up to renovate the two-in-one dance-music space, and their concept is so tight, I can only imagine long-term success.

First off, Girl Bar, which Sachs promoted at the space when it was Axis (look for a 10th-anniversary party in November), is no longer a cramped sardine can. Used to be, any stranger who walked in with a man got the stink eye. Turns out it wasn't animosity, it's just that he was taking up precious space. Now the Friday-night lesbian club is housed in the Factory--the larger of the two back-to-back spaces--and it's so roomy everyone is more at ease. As a result, while primarily still a meeting ground for gay women, Girl Bar has a more mixed crowd and is more comfortable for newcomers. The music, supplied primarily by deejays Dawna Montell and Kimberly S., thumps loud and clear, and go-gal dancers (one who's a dead ringer for the fly girl-era Jennifer Lopez) strut their ample stuff.

Dancing in Hallways, Bathrooms, at the Bar

On a recent Friday, while the deejays offered a spectacular remix of Marc Anthony's "I Need to Know," women of all shapes--and I mean, all shapes--were dancing everywhere: in the bathrooms, at the bar, in the hallways, up the stairs. Darn cool. The guests seemed empowered by having such a high-end room of their own.

Meanwhile, at Ultra Suede--the adjacent, smaller club--a new promotion titled "Super," run by the folks behind Beige (the successful Tuesday-night club at 360 in Hollywood), was offering a house full of house music to a largely gay male crowd.

Cherry used to be in the same space but moved its Friday-night dance fare to the Playroom, a better fit for that colorful crew. Factory/Ultra Suede designer Bruce Liebert went straight down the middle for a more stark, high-tech look. It has the feel of a New York discotheque and seems to suit the sterility of electronic music.

But for what they're going for, that's not such a bad thing. The fact that the newly configured place can hold 1,000 people has translated into "premiere" cash, as well. Since its December opening, the place has had the premiere party for "Titus," another party for the Woody Harrelson-Antonio Banderas boxing movie, "Play It to the Bone," and tonight they're hosting a shindig for "Scream 3."

But the primary stock and trade of the Factory (and Ultra Suede) is gay dance nights--including the Freshmen and Buddha Lounge on Thursdays--and it's well-placed in the heart of West Hollywood, just south of hoppin' Santa Monica Boulevard.

On Saturdays, both spaces are opened to create one huge danceteria called simply the Factory. So far, such notables as Ice T and Val Kilmer have come to boogie. But this place isn't all about celebrity; it's about business. Teen singer Christina Aguilera tried to crash the club's Wednesday-night promotion, "That '80s Night" but was turned away. Sorry kid, this ain't the Roxbury.

BE THERE

The Factory/Ultra Suede. For Factory, enter at 652 La Peer Ave.; to access Ultra Suede, 661 N. Robertson Blvd., (on Saturdays, enter from La Peer Avenue), West Hollywood. 21 and older. Cover varies. (310) 659-4551.

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