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The THUMP Guide to Clubbing: Los Angeles

Beats by the beach and twerk-offs with celebs. This is how you party West Coast style.

Common wisdom about Los Angeles is that once you venture beyond the surface level lameness of the mainstream and isolationist tendencies of the underground, there's a thriving scene for every minutely specific subculture that piques your interests. Drag queen acid rap? Yeah we got that. Hasidic trap? Yeah we got that too. Actually, we have lots of that (hey Fairfax District!).

Over the past decade, The City of Angels has cemented its reputation as a worldwide hub for electronic music. Even 2 AM closing times and unpredictable police crackdowns of the warehouse scene can't seem to stop this city from dancing. The past couple years in particular have seen an influx of labels and artists from world-round setting up shop in town. Everyone from Rusko to Eric Prydz to Pete Tong calls LA home now, joining natives like TOKiMONSTA, Skrillex and Kristina Sky.


Still, one wrong turn around these parts and you can end up at a Scientology fundraiser or Andy Dick's bedroom; a little guidance goes a long way, so here's The THUMP Guide to Clubbing: Los Angeles.

Exchange (Downtown)

Exchange is named as such because it once housed the Los Angeles Stock Exchange, which means the venue's cavernous expanses are no stranger to shady backroom deals and thrown elbows. You'll fit right in. The main room has developed into quite the audio-visual experience recently, with lasers and LED screens aplenty, but the second room can still seem like a lame kid's bar mitzvah at times.

The snootier amongst us might complain about the interlopers, but since Insomniac got involved, Exchange's programming has been wicked. You're likely to find luminaries from all ends of the spectrum every weekend. Inception Saturdays has got you for deeper sounds (Hot Since 82, Duke Dumont), while the occassional Bassrush parties bring the ruckus (Andy C, Rusko), and Awakening Fridays is a must-do if you love trance.

Beware: The line to enter Exchange is the worst place in the world. It's like Dante's Inferno and the Myth of Sisyphus mangled into one tortuous ordeal and set to an EDM soundtrack. There are about 12 guestlists and none of them matter unless your name is Pasquale.

Food & Drink:
Do: Pre-game. Downtown has all sorts of fun drinking options within walking distance.
Don't: Eat a street-dog. Unless you wanna feel funny the morning after.


Fashion: You'll find a lot of girls wearing heels here. Which means you'll find a lot of disgruntled-looking women stumbling down Spring Street at 3AM.

Avalon (Hollywood)

Nearing its 100th year as a venue (albeit under a variety of names), Avalon Hollywood's age is about five times that of most of its clientele.

Avalon is the most big budget of all the readily available clubbing options. Even with a massive facelift recently completed, the layout at Avalon sometimes feels like going to a show instead of going to a club. With a calendar featuring everything from Monday's up-and-coming locals and buzzed-about futurestars at School Night! in the upstairs Bardot club to Friday's weekly treatise on turn-up tunes at the long-running Control, Avalon is definitely more dancefloor hub than concert hall. This is fitting considering that the venue once featured acts like Judy Garland and Bing Crosby dropping mad 1930s showtunes on stage. A lounge named for one-time occupant Jerry Lewis still offers VIP seats to VIP people in the back of the club. Where else can you experience history and rage your face off at the same time?

The crowd at Avalon tends to be there for the night as opposed to the club and the crowd trends toward younger and rowdier. That said, it's the closest thing to a festival mainstage you'll get indoors. And those renovated bathrooms, what did we do to deserve such luxury?

Do: Check up Bardot's patio upstairs
Don't: Forget to check out the bathrooms. Not kidding.


Fashion: Anywhere from sweatpants to prom dresses.

Sound (Hollywood)

Sound is one of the newest additions to the L.A clubbing landscape and, as its name would suggest, has the most impressive audio set-up you'll find in town. It's intimate, somewhere between demure and rowdy, and is the place you'll find homegrown talents getting a chance to shine alongside international heroes. People really seem like they're at Sound for the tunes, and there's less posturing and posing because of that (even though they won't let boys dance on the platform).

If you're a regular around THUMP, you'll know our Night Bass love is real. Framework on Fridays has the best in house and techno - everyone from Prydz alter-egos to Justin Jay are prone to show up, and Monday Social is a really good way to get a bad start to the work week.

Food & Drink:
Do: Remarkably, the food served at Sound is decent! Who eats at a nightclub, though?
Don't: Go to the Rusty Mullett across the street. Actually, do go to the Rusty Mullett. You can thank us later.

Fashion: Keep it casual but classy. Designer sweatpants and a blazer.

Lot 613 (Downtown)

Lot 613 brings all the amenities of a club into a warehouse setting. Sometimes we can't believe it's legal. It's a multi-purpose event space, but has brought the likes of Boys Noize and Hudson Mohawke within the past couple of months alone. It's spacious, dark, and a very appropriate setting to get weird in the night.


As it isn't a traditional nightclub, the programming can be sporadic, but you can find anyone from Jack Beats and AC Slater (when Night Bass goes bigtime) to underground partysquads like Lights Down Low and Making Shapes taking the place over for a night.

Pro-Tip: Most events here require RSVP of some sort, so get on that.

Food & Drink: There's actually a grill outside that they fire up for big events, so if you're in the mood for a chorizo quesadilla amidst your raving, they've got you.

Rooftop Pool Parties (Downtown, Hollywood, West Hollywood)

Pool parties at sea level are for basic people from Riverside or New York City. LA parties poolside on the roof or not at all.

The Standard Downtown, The Mondrian in West Hollywood or Drai's in Hollywood are good shouts to have this quintessentially Angeleno experience. The tunes are most often polite deep house, somewhere between poolside and elevator-ready, and most in attendance are models or actors (aspiring or otherwise). Still, nothing says "I've made it in life" like drinking a $17 cocktail and trading contact info with a castmember of D3: The Mighty Ducks while Eric Sharp lulls you into a bodyjackin' so subtle that it actually lowers your heartrate. That's some yoga shit.

Food & Drink: Awkwardly eating truffle fries on your towel-covered lounge chair is the norm but that doesn't make it right.

Fashion: Abs and silicon for days.

Random Warehouse Parties (city-wide)

Not ready to go home at 2AM? Neither are we. Although the warehouse scene might be the coolest thing happening in Los Angeles, we're not telling you where, and we're not telling you when. You're clever, you can figure it out.


We'll tell you this much: Somewhere in the nether regions east of downtown, the likes of Claude VonStroke, DJ Hell, Foreign Beggars, and legions of our city's finest underground spinners have turned up the warehouse district within the past few months. Keep an eye on crews like Restless Nites, Overpass POP UP, No Filter, Ham on Everything, and The Flyball.

Food & Drink:
Do: Eat beforehand. There's no food in the post-apocalyptic industrial wasteland
Don't: Linger on the street, n00b!

Fashion: Lots of black. Or show up naked. Nobody cares.

Honorable Mentions

King King (Hollywood)

As The Do Lab's home-away-from-home, King King is where you'll find everything from burner-tastic livetronica acts named after plants to nichey cool stuff from Joker to Kraak and Smaak. Tucked politely away on schmalzy Hollywood Blvd, what makes King King special is the vibe. How often do you go to a club, look out in the crowd, and think to yourself,"Man, everyone here looks so friendly!"

The Dragonfly (Hollywood)

"Drum & Bass" and "Los Angeles" cannot be uttered in the same sentence without Respect being included. Nearing 15 years in existence, the country's most relentless bass music weekly packs out the distinctly rock n' roll environs of The Dragonfly every week for a good, ol' fashioned heads-down rave. As long as there's traffic in LA, Respect will still be a thing.

Los Globos (Silver Lake)

Los Globos used to be a hangout for vaqueros, but a few years ago took on a new, black-clad visage and now has programming from all over the musical spectrum. On any given night, you can stumble upon The Moth's storytelling podcasts or a hardcore metal band. Still, it's the home of some of our favorite nichey raves. A Club Called Rhonda and Das Bunker shack up there most of the time - and if you're into footwork, the only time you ever leave the house is probably to get down in Los Globos' distinctly basement-y environs.

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Read other THUMP Guides to Clubbing: New York City // Toronto

All photos sourced from official websites and/or Facebook