The Best Night Out In Los Angeles
The thing about Los Angeles is that you can't ever really be bored because there's always something going on, day or night. Luckily we have more to do in our city when the sun sets than just go clubbing to thumping top-40 music or hanging out at a local watering hole. We've got unique activities from stargazing parties to spots where you can karaoke all night long and throwback joints where you can get nostalgic. Here are some of our favorite nighttime activities to do in Los Angeles. As always, let us know yours in the comments.
Throwback Dance Parties
Nothing quite makes us lose control on the dance floor like retro dance parties. Luckily, in Los Angeles, we have plenty of these nostalgic events that send us back in time to the simpler days where we could do the electric slide or dance to disco without any judgment. Some of the best events in the city include Funky Sole at the Echo on Saturdays, where you can get your fancy footwork down with '60s and '70s soul and groove; Blue Mondays at Boardner's in Hollywood for all your '80s Depeche Mode and Cure needs; Part-Time Punks on Sundays at the Echo for themed nights dedicated to our favorite rock artists from the '70s to the '90s; and monthly Club 90s at Los Globos for your Spice Girls to N'Sync cravings. There's also the bi-monthly Bootie LA parties at the Echoplex and the Regent Theatre where DJs will mash up some grungy Nirvana with soulful James Brown and Madonna. Check out LAist's Best Retro Dance Clubs article for more ideas.
There's something about the glory of winning bragging rights in a game of knowledge that's incomparable to any other feeling. We certainly don't have a shortage of smart folks in Los Angeles who congregate every week for a battle of wits at different bars pretty much every night of the week. And the best part is that some of these watering holes hand out prizes that can cover part of your bar tab. Some of the highlights include Taco and Trivia Tuesdays at Angel City Brewery in DTLA, Saturdays at Mid-Wilshire's Little Bar, Sundays at Los Feliz's Ye Rustic Inn, and Mondays and Wednesdays at Studio City's The Fox and Hounds. Action Trivia also hosts quiz nights all over town, including Mondays at Silver Lake's Red Lion Tavern, Pasadena's Lucky Baldwin's, and Highand Park's the York; Wednesdays at Atwater Village's Bigfoot Lodge and Tuesdays at the Bigfoot Lodge West location in Palms; Sundays and Tuesdays at Pasadena's T. Boyle's Tavern; Sundays at DTLA's The Falls, and Thursdays at The Cock 'N' Bull Pub in Santa Monica, among others. Check out the Action Trivia website for schedules.
There's something magical about getting the chance to check out other planets, stars and the moon through a telescope. Even though we have some pretty intense light pollution in Los Angeles, we've got a few spots to go stargazing in Los Angeles and bring out that childlike wonderment from our adult selves. Griffith Observatory hosts monthly public star parties with help from volunteers from different Los Angeles-based astronomy groups. You get to view stars using different telescopes and learn from amateur astronomers about what you're looking at. The Los Angeles Astronomical Society (LAAS) does "Garvey Nights" every Wednesday in Monterey Park. They open up the Garvey Ranch Observatory to the public for free, and you get to look at stars from their telescopes and even their 8-Inch Refractor inside the dome. If you trek a bit further out, the Ventura County Astronomical Society throws monthly public star parties at Moorpark College's Observatory & Amphitheater. They ask for a $2 donation, but that gets you a lecture, star maps and the opportunity to look up at the sky using their telescopes.
Video Arcade Games
Being a grown-up doesn't mean we have to stop doing things we loved as kids. In fact, being an adult means you can booze it up while you play Pac-Man or Street Fighter. The retro arcade bars are making a big wave in Los Angeles, with plenty of spots where we can tap into the '80s and '90s. EightyTwo in DTLA has consistently been a great place for craft cocktails and a huge selection of arcade games and pinball machines. The One Up opened up late last year in Sherman Oaks, and besides having a sweet set of games, they also have a bar menu with unique items like Cap'n Crunch Chicken Wings and Southern Fried Chicken Banh Mi. Little Tokyo's X-Lanes is one of our favorite stops for newer Dance Dance Revolution-type of games and car-racing. They also have a full bar, food options, bowling lanes and a karaoke room if you get bored of arcade games. If you want a divier spot, Koreatown's Blipsy Bar is the place to go for cheap drinks and a sweet jukebox to go along your leveling-up skills in Paperboy or Donkey Kong. The newly-opened Break Room 86 at the Line hotel has a few favorite arcade games like Galaga to go along with the bar's '80s theme (which also include alcohol-laden Push Up Pops!). Check out LAist's list on 7 Places Where Grown Ups Can Video Games in Los Angeles for some more ideas.
Karaoke is an institution within itself in Los Angeles. We have it all from belting out songs (like Young MC's "Bust a Move" to Weezer's "Say It Ain't So") on a stage in front of a crowd in a divey bar to getting a private room to share with your buddies like kings. Some of our favorite spots for nightly on-stage performances include East Hollywood's Smog Cutter, Santa Monica's The Gaslite, and Koreatown's Brass Monkey. Mid-Wilshire's Little Bar has karaoke nights on Mondays, and there are more low key spots at the Ohjah Lounge on the second floor of the Miyako Hotel and Tokyo Beat, both in Little Tokyo. Many of these places are free to get in, or at the most charge a few bucks or two-drink minimum. Now, as for renting private rooms, some of the best spots include Max Karaoke Studio, which has locations in Sawtelle Japantown and Little Tokyo. Also, check out our LAist's list of Best Karaoke in Los Angeles for more places for you to belt out some songs.
Jumbo's Clown Room
Nestled in a strip mall in East Hollywood, Jumbo's Clown Room is a gem in Los Angeles. It's equal parts a tiny dive bar (with stiff, cheap drinks) and exotic dance club. It's the type of place where you can throw back a few drinks with some buddies (both guys and women) and have a raucous good time in a lively environment. Don't be swayed to think this is a strip club (since nobody actually gets naked here): it's much more entertaining than that. You have some talented (and tattooed) women on the stripper pole wearing anything from bikinis to lingerie (and a skeleton skin tight suit I once saw a dancer don for Halloween) doing some impressive pole-dancing moves and burlesque dancing. The music is awesome, too, as you'll hear some rocking Guns 'N' Roses for one act and the Pixies for another. There's no cover, but make sure to bring some dollar bills to tip the lovely dancers.
Jumbo's Clown Room is located at 5153 Hollywood Blvd., East Hollywood, (323) 666-1187
One of the great things about living in Los Angeles is that there are plenty of nature trails where we can go to get away from hectic city life. Hiking, though, isn't limited to being just a daytime activity as there are lots of outdoorsy groups that lead nighttime hikes on different trails. It's great for some stargazing and seeing nature in a different light—under the moonlight. Most of the hikes are pretty much free of charge. LA Trail Hikers run weekly evening hikes at Griffith Park that are dog-friendly, and their website gives info on upcoming hikes, difficulty level of the hikes and where to meet up. Sierra Club also meets up for nighttime hikes at Griffith Park, sometimes even twice a week. You can expect up to 40 hikers on certain days, and sometimes they split up the hikes into different difficulty levels so you won't have to worry about trailing behind. Great Outdoors Los Angeles throws weekly and monthly dog-friendly full moon hikes where the group treks from Griffith Observatory up to Mt. Hollywood. They even meet up for dinner after the Monday hikes. TreePeople puts on monthly nighttime hikes in Coldwater Canyon Park for a $5 fee per hiker. All you have to do is RSVP with them. And if you're willing to venture out a bit, Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts has their 2015 schedule out for their moonlight hikes, which is much more than just a hike. You walk up 2.5 miles and then you're greeted by a party where there's a BBQ and live music. Ticket costs vary depending on what you're interested in doing.
The comedy scene is growing in our city, not just for stand-up but also for improv and quirky sketch comedy. There's a little of something for everyone, and we have a few that especially leave us crying with laughter like the monthly Super Serious Show comedy events at Silver Lake's the Virgil where you get a good mix of some of the funniest stand-up performers (sometimes with the likes of Aziz Ansari, Bill Burr and Cameron Esposito), sketches, videos and musical comedy, along with food trucks and drink specials. The Virgil is also home to a weekly Monday comedy show dubbed Hot Tub With Kurt & Kristen, as in Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal (The Last Man on Earth), where we've seen some talented and up-and-comers grace the stage. There are also our famous Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) Theatre in Franklin Village and in Hollywood, which are constantly pumping out hilarious comedy shows, and it's nary you won't find a long line outside with people waiting to get in. UCB's weekly ASSSSCAT show is one that often sells out and is one of the best improv shows in Los Angeles (sometimes with celebrity comedians hitting the stage), and they normally have a roster of great comedians doing their own bits—from Ron Huebel (Burning Love) to Paul Scheer and Jason Mantzoukas (both from The League). Over at the NerdMelt Showroom, nestled in the back of Meltdown Comics in West Hollywood, you'll find yourself catching some indie comedy shows, podcast recordings, bad movie nights, and open mics. Some of their most popular shows include tapings of Comedy Central's The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, Doug Benson's comedy podcast, Doug Loves Movies, and Dan Harmon (creator of Community) and Jeff B. Davis' (Whose Line is it Anyway) Harmontown podcast. Also worth mentioning is that we also have the Groundlings on Melrose Avenue, the Comedy Central Stage in Hollywood, and even a comedy show in Los Feliz that sits above a Chinese restaurant on Thursdays dubbed Comedy Palace.
Going to the movies might not seem like the most exciting night out, but in Los Angeles there are plenty of options to make it much more lively. Every Friday and Saturday night there's always a midnight movie somewhere, including The New Beverly, Cinefamily's Friday Night Frights and Saturday night Nuart Theatre's Friday night CineInsomnia. If you prefer your films to be a little more interactive, there's of course The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Saturdays at he Nuart and Art Theater of Long Beach, and don't forget to bring your plastic spoons to Landmark Regent's monthly screenings of The Room. For those whose bedtime is too early for a midnight movie, the Cinefamily and The New Bev always deliver with the kitchsy genre fare. Don't pass on any kung fu double features at the New Bev (usually on Tuesdays), you may never get a chance to see some of them on the big screen again. —Carman Tse