On Halloween 1940, hundreds of couples clad in suits and cocktail gowns flooded into a brand-new concert hall. Bas-relief pillars and crushed-velvet curtains flanked a bandstand that today would seem comically small, its curves echoed in a series of sweeping, backlit circles rippling across the ceiling and ending in a wrap-around balcony where guests could look down on the sea of elegantly coiffed heads. But most importantly, there was lots and lots of room to dance.
That’s remained true in the many decades since the Hollywood Palladium’s grand opening. Over the years, the venue has hosted everyone from Black Flag and The Ramones to The Offspring and Jay-Z, and though a flashy modern light and video system now fills the stage, it still looks out on a massive dance floor lit by anachronistic chandeliers. Of course, guests might well guess at this blend of modern spectacle and old-school panache just from the venue’s façade, whose enormous neon letters, powered by the motor of a 1955 Cadillac, tower above the marquee’s list of the big names on deck that week.
Created by 20-year hat designer and passionate head-coverer Matt Clark, Hollywood Hat Lounge shades bare domes with an eclectic and wide-ranging collection of hats, from fedoras ($19.95–$84.95) to cowboy hats ($29.95–$69.75) to sinamay garden-party hats ($29.95–$65). Wannabe newsies can don a Goorin Newsboy cap ($34.95) and chuck the daily edition through their neighbor's Citizen Kane-themed basketball hoop, and women can recall the era of the leaping lindy hop with a Jasmine cloche hat ($24.95).
Los Angeles Oktoberfest invites visitors to celebrate the changing seasons with two days of traditional Bavarian revelry. Hosted by Bob Guiney from ABC's The Bachelor, the festival invites attendees to fill their glass steins with any of the 19 available German beers and purchase hearty platefuls of bratwurst, giant pretzels, and strudel. Live bands lead traditional, sing-along drinking tunes, a Bavarian dance group performs for joyous audiences, and a strolling accordionist weaves through the crowds while playing familiar German melodies. In addition to bidding on sports memorabilia at the silent-auction table, patrons can also test their arm strength by competing in the stein-holding competition, which rewards the winners with lifetime admission to the Los Angeles Oktoberfest and a brand new pair of steel biceps to replace the old, used-up ones.
The more you laugh, the longer you live, according to one Norwegian study and Terry Bannon of Red Falls, Missouri. Today’s Groupon lets you live long enough to see the Minority Report future come true with a $10 two-hour improv class at The Second City Training Center, 80% off the normal $50 price. Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.
As the owner of seven bars in California, Craig Trager has worked with his share of bartenders, but he evaluates them all based on one simple criterion. "If you're not learning the regulars' names, you're out," he told the Los Angeles Times. It's this devotion to easy conversation—inspired by Cheers and similar settings—that make Trager's venues at once welcoming and luxurious. The Parlour Room of Hollywood is no exception. Its antique chandeliers illuminate a lounge covered in emerald and gold wallpaper, whose baroque patterns match the green couches and ottomans below. A wide mirror hangs in a florid golden frame across from the bar, reflecting the complex machinations that take place behind the counter.
There, the Parlour Room's mixologists illustrate their expertise in multitasking. They chat with patrons as they muddle maple juleps, which are made from a signature blend of whiskey, mint leaves, and maple syrup. Fruits star in multiple drinks, from the raspberries in the sugar cube-sweetened Metropolitan to the black cherry flavors in the menu's modified Manhattan. Those in search of more savory sips order the Parlour Martini, which always sells for $5, even if you find a pearl inside your olive.
When one steps inside, Geisha House "can feel like another planet," says the Los Angeles Times. A self-described "surreal, high-class brothel," Geisha House pays homage to Japan's late-night history and adds modern twists such as backlit neon panels in sultry shades of red and pink. A curved mezzanine grants a bird's-eye view of candlelit tables crowned with specialty rolls full of burdock root, tempura flakes, torched lobster, and other adventurous ingredients. Chatter emanates from a 50-foot sake bar serving the Japanese rice liquor straight or poured into specialty cocktails, sips of which flank bites of carpaccio, mongolian lamb chops, and udon noodles in fragrant broths. A lively dance floor invites diners to remember the simple joy of motion and lets method actors cast as sprinklers fit in.