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Nightlife and entertainment


Exploring the jungle of LA nightlife can be great fun. Even the quietest venue offers a chance to eavesdrop on the doings of the city’s clubkids and hipsters; the most raucous ones will take your breath away. In all the bars, clubs and discos, you’ll need to be 21 and will be asked for ID. The best sources of listings are LA Weekly (w and Friday’s LA Times (w


LA’s bars provide a wide range of choices, from the funky dives of Hollywood to the chic enclaves of West LA and Santa Monica. As elsewhere along the West Coast, coffeehouses are established all over the city as popular meeting places.

Clubs and discos

LA’s clubs range from posy hangouts to industrial noise cellars. The trendier side of the club scene is, as always, elusive, with some venues changing names and clientele every six months, but listed below are some of the more established names. Gay and lesbian clubs are centred around West Hollywood and are noted below. Check the LA Weekly before setting out.

Live music

LA has an overwhelming choice for live music: ever since the 1960s, the local rock scene has been excellent, with up-and-comers in mainstream or indie rock getting their first break here; jazz is played in a few authentic locales; and salsa is quite popular. Cover charges can vary widely, so call ahead.

Classical music, opera and dance

LA has a number of choices for classical music and, in the last two decades, has surprisingly established itself as an international force in highbrow music. The Los Angeles Philharmonic (t 323/850-2000, w, now led by wunderkind Gustavo Dudamel, and Los Angeles Master Chorale (t 213/972-7282, w perform regularly during the year at Disney Hall; the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (t 213/622-7001, w performs at assorted venues; and the Da Camera Society (t 213/477-2929, w offers chamber works in stunning settings, from grand churches to legendary modernist homes to renovated movie palaces.

As for opera, LA Opera (t 213/972-8001, w, led by general director Placido Domingo, stages productions at Downtown’s Music Center, but the region’s most exciting company is Long Beach Opera (t 562/432-5934, w, which puts on challenging but well-regarded performances of modern and lesser-known operas, at rotating venues. Finally, Los Angeles Ballet (t 310/998-7782, w is a recent attempt to fill a serious hole in the LA cultural scene, also performing at rotating venues.


The comedy scene in LA has long been a national proving ground for aspiring jokesters and inspired clowns, and it’s also a good place to catch live performances by established names as well as up-and-comers. The better-known places are open nightly, but are often solidly booked on weekends. Cover typically ranges from $10–30.


Not surprisingly for a place loaded with actors, LA has a very active theatre scene, with countless venues spread all over town; ticket services like LA Stage Alliance (t 213/614-0556, w have discount tickets for given shows, under its LA Stage programme. The LA Weekly and the Friday LA Times both offer listings and reviews.


Many films are often released in LA months (or years) before they play anywhere else. You can catch mainstream releases in any mall-based multiplex, but if you’re after a golden-age-of-film atmosphere, head for one of the historic moviehouses or evocative second-run houses listed below – or check out the excellent Last Remaining Seats festival in June (tickets $20; w in classic movie palaces.

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