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Once Upon a Friday in Hollywood...

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I should have known that nearly a month without a night on the town was enough to render me out of the loop.

Unfortunately, that possibility didn't occur to me until I was already cruising down Hollywood Blvd. at 10:30pm on Friday. I was headed towards Star Shoes with my boyfriend's 21-year-old sister in tow, ready for a wild L.A. night before she went back to Tennessee. Absent-mindedly wondering if I could find a lot to park in for under $20, I drove past Gower, Cahuenga, and Wilcox. As I came upon the Kodak Theater, though, with no sign of Star Shoes, I began to think that something may have gone awry.

"Must have passed it," I said, eyeballing her out of my peripheral. I didn't want to give away the crack in my confidence just yet.

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But sure enough, as I drove back the other direction, where Star Shoes should have been now stood VICE. Really? It wasn't bad enough to replace the only moderately laid-back spot to dance with an ultra-lounge –- they had to name it VICE to boot? I was thoroughly disappointed.

The next place I could come up with was from back in the world-music-fusion days. Yes, in 2004, Nacional was the spot -- Wednesday nights, Transistor Lounge.

But things have changed since '04. We waited in line there for 15 minutes, only to find that the place was almost completely empty. My companion's Southern manners forced her to pretend that she was having a good time, and even to overlook the random blue and white balloons and streamers that were being put up in a corner for a party we clearly weren't invited to.

It was at that point that I acknowledged to myself that the nightlife waits for no one, and I had been left behind. My young charge was visibly losing faith in me. With nothing left to lose, I decided to take a risk. "Alright," I said, "Let's check out the new place that used to be Star Shoes."

I barged up to the head of the line at VICE, feeling a lot like Leslie Mann in "Knocked Up", and braced myself to be told that I was old as shit. Mercifully, the doorman stopped short of that, but still wouldn't let us in since the night was "reservations only" (I came to find out that the place had opened only a week before).

I was close to turning around and cutting my losses at the parking lot when without warning, the doorman was outclassed. From out of the depths, Mr. Owner of the Club himself emerged to take a breather. I saw my opening - grabbing Tennessee's hand we dashed past the velvet rope as it parted. "We're already in!" I cried, as the doorman started to protest. "Oh, just let them go," said Owner. It was as good as done.

Inside, VICE is exactly like every other semi-swank lounge in every city across the country. Everything is silver and black, the furniture is patent leather and shiny, and the crowd is depressingly homogeneous. But, the music is good...damn good. The DJ bust out with everything from "I Love Rock N' Roll", to "Sweet Home Alabama", to, in a stroke of brilliance, "Push It".

So, Star Shoes is closed, Nacional sucks, and the doorman at VICE will never let me in again. But the night was still a success -- we got the chance to talk (well, bust) our way in to a club, and really, there's nothing more Hollywood than that.

Photo by Jessica

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