Sometimes, there's nothing like a dive. The kind of spot where you come as you are, the jukebox plays all your favorite songs and the guy at the bar's seen better days. Sheryl Crow sang about it so perfectly in that boozy gem "All I Wanna Do."
The Parlour Club, a new joint on Santa Monica Boulevard, was created out of the ashes of an old hustler bar called the Pub, a sketchy dive in West Hollywood that had surely seen better days. But Lenny Young, a film producer turned barkeep, saw potential in the place and doggedly pursued its owner to sell the bar to him.
With the 3-month-old Parlour, Young created a "dive's" dive--a bordello-red bar with lo-fi whimsy that's a new hit on the stretch of Santa Monica that already includes such happening spots as the Lounge, Belly and Sky Sushi. Young, whose producing credits include "Chicken Run," "James and the Giant Peach" and "Snow in August," had lucked out in San Francisco with a bar called the Attic, a Mission District underperformer he transformed into a community staple by making it a forum for spoken-word and neighborhood events.
He's working the same angle at the Parlour, and it's already having an impact. In just two months, the Parlour has evolved into an art house of sorts. As befits the neighborhood, the Parlour is a haven for spoken word, rock 'n' roll, gay, fetish and mod scenes. And its one of the few WeHo bars that's attracting Eastsiders--no small feat.
Its wide appeal has a lot to do with its comfort factor. The Parlour is roomy and long, with a backroom stuffed with cushy furniture and cool images. Artist Dame Darcy painted surreal portraits on the red walls, and battered chandeliers hang from the ceiling. A cozy nook to the left of the entrance is shrouded by velvet curtains, a good touch in any club.
Its jukebox, however, is pure genius. It's rare to find everything from ABBA to Black Sabbath on a jukebox, but the Parlour Club provides it all. On a recent night, it produced everything from Johnny Cash to Hole, with doses of the Runaways and Screamin' Jay Hawkins for good measure. Closer scrutiny revealed cuts by Billie Holliday and the Pixies.
On Friday nights, the bar transforms into Miss Kitty's Parlour, a fetish-rock club. On Saturdays, DJ Oscar provides a night of "electro deviant punk pop," and the Parlour fills up with an interesting crowd of Hollywood and Silver Lake hipsters. Beginning next Thursday, the Parlour is launching a lesbian night with the debut of "U-Haul," which is hosted by DJ Big Mama Freak spinning rock, funk and oldies.
One of its quickest successes has been on Sundays between 6 and 9 p.m., when performance artist Lydia Lunch and promoter Andrew Gould host the "Unhappy Hour," a spoken word series that's created a big underground buzz. Regulars include author Clint Catalyst, whose "Cottonmouth Kisses" topped Amazon's bestseller list for Gay & Lesbian books. (This Sunday, singer Jake LaBotz is the featured guest.) The spoken-word forum has been a key draw for many musicians and artists, who pack the place each Sunday to speak their mind or hear others speak theirs. Afterward, the Parlour Club becomes Dada, a new-wave cabaret hosted by a variety of scene queens and filled out by DJ Philippe Kane.
So like the song says, if all you wanna do is have some fun until the sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard, the Parlour's bound to be your kind of place.
The Parlour Club, 7702 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 650-7968. 21 and older. Cover varies.