Those who've seen?The Social Network?or watched Heidi Klum host?Germany's Next Top Model?have already peeked inside Exchange LA. But behind the Hollywood connections, bright lights, and EDM bass thumps is plenty of history. Soaring 11 stories into the air (the city's limit at the time of construction) with 40-foot ceilings and art-deco details, the venue opened its limestone and granite doors as the Los Angeles Stock Exchange in 1931. A 90'x74' trading floor trimmed with balconies served as the anchor, while Eastern, American Indian, and Greek influences imparted a sense of timelessness. Although born into the tumult of the Great Depression, the structure continued its life as a financial hub until 2008. Then, as all buildings do when they reach maturity, it developed a massive cocoon and emerged as a nightclub.
A rare outlet for commercially sanctioned laughter in downtown Los Angeles, Garrett Morris’ Downtown Blues and Comedy Club helps visitors escape the stresses of the workweek with a rotating stable of top-tier standup talent every Friday and Saturday. Comic legend Garrett Morris, now seen as Earl on CBS’ 2 Broke Girls, hosts showcases of comic talent with charming wit and tales of how he outlived the original cast of Saturday Night Live. The bill remains consistently loaded with fresh-faced and seasoned funny folk, with past luminaries including George Lopez, Margaret Cho, and Wayne Brady, along with aspiring stars in the twilight before their first mismatched-marriage sitcom.
Keeping true to its name and Morris’ roots in the New Orleans music scene, the venue often punctuates its comedy shows with performances from top blues artists—including Morris himself, who has lent his soulful pipes to the Harry Belafonte Singers—that add melody to the mirth. While weekend shows feature Garrett’s hosting and harmonies along with the headlining acts, the Thursday Night Experience allows youthful burgeoning comics and musicians to hog the spotlight.
Situated on the rooftop of a local parking garage, Electric Dusk Drive-In is a high-altitude destination for a classic cinematic experience. The soundtracks of time-tested favorites and current releases stream out of car radios tuned to the theater’s FM station. In front of the screen, a spacious patch of astroturf grows from the concrete, inviting on-foot viewers to lounge in camp chairs as they watch. Carhops weave from vehicle to vehicle to deliver orders of popcorn, burgers, and sodas, as well as eclectic treats such as oatmeal-cookie pies, cups of ramen, and honey-glazed film reels.
Thread regales discerning aesthetes with a sweeping spectacle assembled by up-to-the-minute fashion professionals and populated by more than 100 designers, including Grammatique, Crow Thief, and DonDeMarco. VIPs may enjoy a complimentary drink from the bar while perusing the wares of multitudinous trendsetting fashion fashioners, whose panache bridges the gap between mainstream style and couture as smoothly as a velour trucker hat.