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Blue 32 has a split personality, but both sides are likable

ON a typically, maddeningly, claustrophobically busy Hermosa weekend night, Blue 32 lures like a mood-lit oasis. Sure, it’s bound to be as packed as anywhere, but with its no-flip-flops dress standards and smooth contemporary decor, it feels less like a frat house and more like a real grown-up nightclub than any other place in the South Bay. And that’s no accident.

Like many night life success stories, Blue 32 came into existence because a couple of booze-appreciating entrepreneurs wanted a place where they and their friends could hang out. Brothers Dave and Mike Lowe founded the place after learning the bar business from the ground up (Mike left a six-figure salary in Oklahoma behind to work the door at the infamous Sharkeez.) Their concept was “Vegas meets South Beach in the South Bay.” Their mantra remains: Gear everything toward women. And it works.

Before the crowd comes, Blue’s vibe is cool, calm and slightly fizzy. Mid-tempo electronic music and vaguely familiar Euro hits burble from the speakers, while the corresponding videos play out on plasma screens. Lest obscure European music videos not be your thing, the management makes sure that half of Blue’s 63-inch plasma televisions are showing sports.

Office escapees relax on the sleek, low-slung lounge furniture, sipping cocktails and nibbling on California-inspired snacks like Kobe burger bites and lobster/shrimp martinis. Dinner time draws a local professional crowd who swear by the steak, seafood and gourmet pizza menu. A respectable wine list gives aspiring bon vivants something to peruse until finally, around 10 p.m., the center section is cleared of furniture and the real festivities can begin.

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Credit the location, the crowd or serious attention to logistical detail, but Blue 32 really manages to get the nightly restaurant-to-nightclub transition right. By 10:30 every night, the place has switched personalities so effectively that if you didn’t know better, you’d think it was always a dance club. The DJ spins Top 40 and hip-hop from his corner booth, go-go dancers gyrate on platforms, and local partyers pack the room from wall to wall. Pretty twenty- and thirtysomething locals flick their highlighted tresses and talk about softball and true romance while sipping steadily at their X-Boyfriend Martinis (the favorite “girlie” drink on the specialty menu -- and a surprise hit with guys too).

As the night gets later, the line outside gets longer, and by 12:30 it’s reached Hollywood proportions. Except, this being the South Bay and not the Cahuenga Corridor, if you wait long enough, you will get in the door.

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theguide@latimes.com

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BLUE 32

WHERE: 1332 Hermosa Ave., No. 1, Hermosa Beach

WHEN: 4 p.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday; 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday; 9 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-midnight Sunday

PRICE: No cover

INFO: (310) 376-2600


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