Nightlife and Entertainment

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Bars and Clubs

The nightlife scene is largely centered in Hollywood, Los Feliz / Silverlake / Echo Park, Downtown, and Santa Monica. Check the LA Weekly or Songkick for current descriptions of the DJs and music featured each night. The legal drinking age is 21; some of the dance clubs admit 18-20 year olds but bars will not. Alcohol cannot be served in California after 2 am, so most bars will announce closing times at 1:30 or 1:45am. Technically smoking is no longer allowed inside California bars, but many bars have outdoor smoking areas and others ignore the rule completely. Most bars are not within walking distance, so remember to have a designated driver or call for ride, and watch out for drunks on the freeways after last call.

Bars, Lounges, Mingling

  • Akbar-A pokey Silverlake bar with a rocky exterior. Choosing a drink is made easier by a specials board. It's interesting to watch the sexual stratification as the evening progresses. The rigidly heterosexual congregate at the front of the bar, the back tends to be filled with fabulously gay men, and the middle makes for outstanding if sometimes confusing people watching.
  • Burgundy Room-The Burgundy Room is an honest bar - it is burgundy, with red Chinese lanterns adorning every light in the bar, and it is a room, and a small one at that. The jukebox is eclectic but good (everything from Frank Sinatra to X). A time-honored tradition, sadly falling out of practice, is the lighting of the bar whenever Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" plays. The main bartender usually goes all out- look for sequined ball gowns and red bouffant wigs.
  • Dresden Room -You saw Swingers, right? The wrenching lounge music is a trademark of the Dresden - some even like it. This place has been in and out style since before Dresden was bombed. Possibly the best martini available in LA. Their back room allows conversational drinking and dining, in an exceptional atmosphere with spiraling chandeliers. If you're truly hip, you might get to know the owner.

Musso & Frank’s Grill

  • The Drawing Room - A culture war often seems to be playing out here between the young and potentially famous Hollywood types who sit in the booths and the old guys from the area who sit at the bar by the door, sometimes leading to a interesting dynamic. Situated in another mini-mall more or less opposite Ye Rustic Inn.

The Lava Lounge

  • Tiki Ti - This microscopic bar has the most intense South Pacific atmosphere available without a plane ticket. Drinks are expensive and effective. Worth it if you can get in (it only holds about 20 people). Erratic hours.

Ye Rustic Inn-The cheesy name somehow befits a bar located in a mini-mall. Just down from the Derby in Los Feliz, but with a very different ambience. More of a local bar, it can get packed late on weekend nights, and people are relatively friendly. There's often someone eating dinner by the door for some reason.

  • The Standard (Downtown) $$ Trendy, stylish, and expensive are proper adjectives to apply to this hotel, restaurant, and lounge. From the suspended semi-orb chairs, to the shag carpet in the lobby lounge, to the scantily-clad person in the terrarium, The Standard has all the cool eye-candy (both in parts and people) one could want. Only downside: drinks and food are rather pricey at this happening place, and parking is very expensive for those not staying at the hotel. But it's worth the trip. (2004)
  • Ace Hotel
  • Perch
  • Thirsty Crow
  • The Edison

DJ and Club Dancing

  • Arena - This club has a huge dance space and a little music for all. It is an 18-and-over club, so be prepared for the teeny-boppers. Cover Charge.
  • Avalon Hollywood (formerly The Palace) - A Hollywood historical landmark with a 20,000 watt sound system. Concert and DJ nights. Avaland Saturdays feature big name DJs and awesome people watching.
  • DEEP @ The Vanguard
  • Dragonfly- A great place to dance and listen to live music. It also has an outdoor patio. Talent scouts frequent this club for new music acts. Cover charge. 9 pm to 2 am full bar; over 21.
  • Echo/Echoplex - Indie venue with music almost every night of the week. Catch Bootie LA or Funky Sole on the weekends for DJ dancing.
  • Mayan - If you love Salsa and Meringue, this is the place for you. Set in a breathtaking Mayan temple, this huge dance club features two floors. The first floor has a live band playing Salsa and Meringue standards and new releases. Don't mind the regulars who are superb dancers. Everyone gets on the floor to show off the steps they do know and to learn a few new ones. Lessons are given Saturday nights at 8 pm. Upstairs, timid dancers can dance the night away to remixed 70's, 80's, and 90's tunes. Cover varies. In a word, the Mayan is posh. They have a pretty strict dress code: collared shirts for men and no, I repeat, no jeans.
  • The Boulevard - Primarily a gay men's club but welcomes women. Canned music, but two pool tables. Male literature available.
  • The Century Supper Club - A classier dance club that sometimes has live music. Six full bars; over 21; Cover charge (except Thursdays) is $10 before 10 pm, then $20.
  • The Viper Room - The club is owned by Johnny Depp; it is frequented by Hollywood's "new brat pack and tourists. Famous as the last stand of River Phoenix,. The Viper Room features live shows and dance nights. 21 and over (unless you're rich and notorious).

Pubs and Sports Bars

  • Amigos -Friendly and very close to Caltech. The food isn't really all that bad (although a few dishes taste like they're microwaved out of a box), and the Margaritas are tasty with plenty of liquor. The service is attentive, and the booths are dimly lit.
  • Carmine’s Restaurant and Sports Bar -A nice sports bar with pretty reasonable prices on pizza and beer. A full Martini menu made affordable on Martini Tuesday's is a definite bonus. Two pool tables and plenty of television sets make this a nice sports bar.
  • Gordon Biersch - This brewpub chain (transplanted from San Francisco) caters to 20- and 30-ish moviegoers. Yuppie. The beer has style and merit. Good appetizer menu to complement your drinks. Large with plenty of seating inside and out. Downside: closes at 1 am Friday and Saturday.
  • Lucky Baldwin’s - One of the only Old Town bars that's worth going to. Excellent selection of mostly British beers on tap. Indoor and outdoor seating, food available (see listing in restaurant section).
  • The Hermosillo -Highland Park

Happy Hours

Pasadena has an active nightlife community. Here is a schedule of happy hours in Pasadena.


Electronic (EDM)

Sun, 10/14/2007 - 3:23pm — teknique The weekly papers tend to be less good at covering the local electronic dance music scene. To stay on top of DJs coming through town, it helps to go out often and hoard fliers, and get ones name on many mailing lists. Some sources of information:

Live Venues

  • El Cid - 4212 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, (323) 668-0318 Close to Sunset Junction (where Sunset and Santa Monica Blvd. intersect), El Cid has cheap sangria, a large outdoor patio with comfy booths, and pretty off the wall music on occasion.

Reasonable venue to see touring bands, usually has good sound. Also has swing dancing on the first Friday of each month. Sometimes has cover charge.

  • Henry Fonda Theatre - 6126 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, (323) 464-0808 Popular stop for indie-ish bands, this mid-sized venue is like the El Rey but with worse sound and a larger balcony.

  • King King - 6555 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, (323) 960-5765 Expect regular house, techno and salsa nights, dance performances, random rock acts and expensive drinks.

  • McMurphy’s Tavern - 72 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, map; (626) 666-1445

Music and dancing Wednesdays through Sunday's. The deck out back is the best thing this bar has to offer. Ridiculous cover charge, even when no band is playing.

  • Mr T’s Bowl - 5621 1/2 Figueroa St., Highland Park; (323) 256-7561 As the name suggests, this is a converted bowling alley. Shows here are a pretty mixed bag, but make for a fun escape from Pasadena without going too far. Very close to the Gold Line. Across Figueroa there is also a cool neighborhood bar, the Little Cave.

  • Safari Sam’s-

5214 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, (323) 666-7267 Seminal punk venue recently reopened after being kicked out of Huntington Beach in 1986. Promises to bring in quality music-as-art.

  • Spaceland-1717 Silverlake Blvd. Los Angeles; (323) 661-4380 Considered by many as the go-to place for live indie-ish music. And if the band sucks, you can suck back a tall mug of yummy Hefeweizen. Monday nights are free and feature a (reliably good) resident band of the month. Tangiers-2183 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, (323) 666-8666 This restaurant in Los Feliz has performances from the quieter/calmer end of the spectrum: chamber-pop singer-songwriter vein.

  • The Derby- 4500 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles, (323) 663-8979 Indie rock, trashy club nights, burlesque shows and swing dancing in Los Feliz. And a restaurant too – what a place for a date!

  • The Echo - 1822 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, (213) 413-8200 Smallish venue that books good bands, the Echo also has regular indie, post-punk, electro and dub dance nights. As is the style, there’s no sign or marquee announcing the club’s presence, but the crowd of asymmetric haircuts outside usually gives the location away.

A bunch of venues along the Silverlake – Hollywood axis, booked by the same promoters (The Fold), usually with great bands in the indie-ish vein. Individually, these venues have one-off shows and regular dance nights too.

  • The Smell - 247 S Main St, Los Angeles; (213) 625-4325 This punky and bizarro all ages venue and art gallery does not serve alcohol, but sells tea and vegan snacks, and features a lending library for books and zines which you can read between acts. Young, friendly and energetic atmosphere in a space reminiscent of a concrete box. Entrance is in behind, from an alley off 2nd St. just before Main St.

  • The Troubadour - 9081 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, (310) 276-6168 Small venue with good sound and a balance of great out of town bands and local bands with connections. Probably the best place to see record label scouts pretending to be normal. Larger bands who want to avoid mid-sized venues will sometimes play a series of nights here.


  • Smog Cutter

Fri, 10/19/2007 - 8:41pm — teknique 864 N. Virgil Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 660-4626 Silver Lake hipster karaoke bar. No cover, but there is a two drink minimum (except Tuesdays).

  • The rest are closed?

Social Dancing

Social dancing is very popular at Caltech and if you are interested we highly recommend getting in touch with any of the clubs on campus (see club section for contact info). We also have some recommendations for non-Caltech events that make for a hot night on the dance floor.

  • Hacienda HotelRight by LAX airport, 525 N. Sepulveda Blvd. It's worth the drive! Facilities: 3 adjacent dance floors with a bar and live DJ Cover charge: none, although it's nice to tip the DJ a couple of dollars Age requirement: 21+ Specialties: This is where all the top WCS dancers go on Thursday nights (8:30-12:30); there's also a WCS party one Saturday per month. On Wednesdays they play Hustle till about 11:30 pm. Friendly, but there are a lot of really good dancers here so don't expect to dance every song if you're a beginner. When it's crowded enough to fill multiple dance floors, there's a gradient with the best dancers on the floor nearest the bar and the less experienced dancers toward the back. Note that the back dance floor has mirrors.

  • LindyGroove

200 S. Euclid Avenue, Pasadena (Masonic Temple) Dance type: Lindy Hop and East Coast Swing Although they usually don't have live bands, their DJs are quite good, and they often invite guest DJs from around the country. The average skill level is pretty high, although they're friendly to beginners. Age-wise, there's a greater proportion of 20-somethings here than at Lindy Groove. They also have a deal where you can get free admission and a birthday cake if you RSVP and bring several people who've never been there before.

  • Pasadena Ballroom Dance Association's Saturday Night Swing Dances

Fellowship Hall, 997 E. Walnut (corner of Walnut and Catalina, behind a church) Dance type: East Coast Swing and Lindy Hop This place is quite friendly, and very welcoming to beginners. Their swing dances have live jazz/swing bands performing, which are usually quite good. They have a very large dance floor, and often have a 200-300 dancers in attendance. They also serve free snacks and water outside. Their dances are frequented by a large range of age groups, ranging from high schoolers to people past retirement, with a decent number of college-age dancers.


Los Angeles boasts many successful comedy clubs, check the LA weekly for comedy listings.

  • Acme Comedy Theater-No alcohol but is available to all ages and is family friendly.
  • Groundling Theater - This is the best improv theater in LA. John Lovitz, Phil Hartman, Julia Sweeny, Elvira, and Pee Wee Herman are all alums. Prices vary, and refreshments can be purchased.
  • Igby’s Comedy Cabaret
  • Improv Olympic West
  • The Comedy Store- One of the most popular comedy clubs in America. This establishment has three rooms of comedy. 21+; two drink minimum.
  • The Comedy and Magic Club
  • The Ice House - ust down the street from Caltech, the Ice House is one of the oldest comedy clubs in Los Angeles. It can still attract all of the big names in comedy. Free tickets are given out by lottery at each performance. 2 drink minimum.
  • The Improvisation
  • The Laugh Factory
  • UCB Theater


  • Silver Lake/Echo Park
  • Downtown (Historic Core,Finance District, South Park,Arts District)
  • Old Town Monrovia- While smaller than Old Town Pasadena, this area has plenty to offer. There’s the Krikorian Movie Theater, Fourth Dimension Billiards, Slot Car Racing and plenty of restaurants and shops. This quaint area also has a street fair almost every Friday.
  • Old Town PasadenaYou can find everything here - lots of restaurants, bars, shops, and movie theaters. Old Town is about a 20 minute walk from campus. The ARTS bus takes you there, but stops running at 10pm. Check bus schedules beforehand.
  • Santa Monica-Both the 3rd Street Promenade and the pier are interesting places for walking and people watching. Third Street Promenade is closed to traffic and offers lots of nice restaurants and shops. The breezy air and many street performers just make Santa Monica more attractive.
  • Sunset Strip-ots of bars and clubs. Refer to listing under Bars and Clubs for more details.
  • Westwood/UCLA-Traditional US college town atmosphere.

Vista Points

  • Griffith Observatory

Thu, 10/04/2007 - 10:24pm — teknique 2800 E. Observatory Rd., Griffith Park, map Griffith is not only an observatory - it offers a great view of the LA metropolitan area. Go there just before dusk to catch a memorable view of the sunset, which is especially spectacular on non-smoggy evenings.

  • Mulholland Drive

Thu, 10/04/2007 - 10:25pm — teknique Mulholland Drive between Fwy 405 and 101 There are a few vista points on Mulholland Drive that offers magnificent views on both sides of the mountain, especially on a clear day. Along the drive, you can see San Fernando Valley, the reservoir, Hollywood Bowl and the Hollywood sign. Allow at least an hour.

  • Pacific Palisades

Thu, 10/04/2007 - 10:25pm — teknique Beautiful ocean views from this vista point. On a clear day, you can see the coastline from Malibu to Venice Beach. Go north on PCH, turn right on Temescal Canyon Road, then make a right at the first possible street (just before the first traffic light) and drive all the way westward to the top until you reach a small park. Street parking is available.


For movie reviews check the LA Weekly, and the Los Angeles Times. Movie listings are in the newspapers and on the Internet Movie Database ( This site includes links to trailers and a database to look up all movies playing in an area by zip code. The campus International Film Club ( has an open air cinema series with international films screened Tuesday evenings in the amphitheater outside Sherman Fairchild library. Laemmle, AMC, Pacific, UA, Mann and Krikorian theaters give student discounts. You must show some type of ID with a university name on it. Some theaters have bargain matinees or evening shows that could come out cheaper than student tickets.

  • Academy 6-Close to Caltech and inexpensive!
  • Edwards Atlantic 10
  • El Capitan
  • Krikorian Monrovia Cinema 12
  • Laemmle’s Playhouse 7
  • Mann’s Chinese
  • Pacific Hastings
  • Pacific Paseo 14
  • Rialto
  • Arclight

Performing arts

Sun, 10/14/2007 - 3:34pm — teknique

  • Caltech Events-Caltech, Pasadena, and Los Angeles offer a wide variety of performing arts. Musical and theatrical events on campus are announced on or The California Tech. Many performances are free, and the Ticket Office (x4652) offers discounted tickets to students for most other events.
  • Tickets and Information - Many performing arts groups have brochures describing their seasons; call for details. Tickets to most major concerts and performances are available from Ticket Master at (213) 480-3232 or The theater listings of the Los Angeles Times Calendar Section and the LA Weekly both contain extensive listings from the smaller theaters. The prices are reasonable, and discounts are usually available for students.

Venues and performance groups

For info or to receive a subscription brochure, call (213) 628-2772.

  • LA Master Chorale

Sun, 10/14/2007 - 3:36pm — teknique For info or to receive a subscription brochure, call (213) 972-7282.

For info or to receive a subscription brochure, call (323) 850-2000.

  • Music Center of Los Angeles County-135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles; (213) 972-7211 Four theatres, including the spectacular new Walt Disney Concert Hall, are located at the Music Center of Los Angeles County, which is located in downtown Los Angeles directly across the street from the Civic Center.

  • Pasadena Civic Auditorium00 E. Green St., Pasadena; (626) 793-2122

  • Pasadena Playhouse39 S. El Molino, Pasadena, map; (626) 356-7529 Smaller theaters-Numerous small theaters in and around LA feature a wide variety of performances by unknowns and Hollywood stars. An easy way to see what’s playing where and when is to consult either the Pasadena or LA Weekly. Three of the best and most stable small theaters are the Odyssey Theater (; (310) 477-2055), Colony Studio Theater Playhouse (; (213) 665-3011), and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts ( 798-0777).

  • The Greek Theater-2700 N. Vermont, Los Angeles; (323) 665-1927

The Greek Theater in Griffith Park hosts a variety of performances from Shakespeare to major contemporary artists. A great venue!

  • The Hollywood Bowl

Wide range of concerts and shows. Most people in the audience bring picnics and the atmosphere is nice and relaxed. There is a shuttle from old town Pasadena directly to the bowl and back.

  • Universal Amphitheater100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City; (818) 622-4440