Appropriately for a city renowned for glitz and glamour, LA has a nightlife offering to rival the wealth of things to do during the day. If you’re looking for somewhere to dine, take a look at our Restaurants page. After your meal has settled, whether you want to catch a show or dance the night away, you won’t struggle to find something that floats your boat in the City of Angels.
Theatre and shows
Considering the prominence of Hollywood, it’s hardly surprising that LA has a thriving theatre culture. One of the most famous performing arts centres in the country, let alone the city, is The Music Centre in the Bunker Hill area of Downtown Los Angeles. Comprising of seven venues – the Ahmanson Theatre, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Mark Taper Forum, Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Music Centre Plaza, Gershwin Gallery and W. M. Keck Children’s Amphitheatre – lovers of all kinds of performing arts are likely to find something to please.
Other theatres offering a nightly programme of dance, drama, (and everything else in between) include:
- Pantages theatre Hollywood – A theatre that has been in action for over 50 years, which stages theatre as well as being a favourite location for movies and music videos
- Geffen Playhouse – An intimate theatre renowned for its showcasing of new plays that has hosted many award-winning actors since its opening in 1995
- Centre for the Art of Performance at UCLA – The evolution of what once was UCLA Live, the Centre celebrates and supports brand new contemporary performing arts productions
- Dolby Theatre – What used to be known as the Kodak Theatre is home to the Oscars ceremony, and it also hosts large-scale theatre productions. For 2012, Cirque du Soleil is taking to the stage with their production, Iris: a fantastical journey through the world of cinema.
There’s no point denying it: LA has some of the most extravagant and opulent nightclubs going. There are tons about, both in Hollywood and in Downtown LA. Exchange LA in the centre of Downtown is absolutely huge and holds up to 1,700 people. If you fancy a truly Hollywood night out, try the super club Avalon, which is made up of four different rooms offering different types of music. Avalon boasts an impressive cultural stance in Hollywood history; ‘the theatre on Hollywood and Vine’ was the site of the Beatles’ first West Coast performance and was once regularly featured on popular variety show ‘The Hollywood Palace’, hosted by Jerry Lewis. Now, it prides itself on being one of LA’s premier night spots. As part of the same complex, you will find Bardot, offering a mixture of live music and DJs, plus dining and cocktails. Keep your eyes peeled in any of these, and many of LA’s other premier nightclubs, as many of them are celebrity hotspots.
Looking for something particularly trendy? Try Winstons on Santa Monica Boulevard for seemingly contradictory upmarket and laidback Hollywood cool. Tucked away in Santa Monica, you can enjoy a more relaxed night out at The Hideout, which is often frequented by those who spend their days exploring the great outdoors.
As with theatres, LA has got cinemas covered. A trip to Los Angeles’ Broadway theatre District will find you surrounded by the largest concentration of ‘movie palaces’ still standing in America. Stretching along South Broadway from Third to Ninth Streets, the district is home to 12 surviving movie theatres including the famous Los Angeles theatre, the Million Dollar theatre and The Palace theatre.
In terms of cinemas that are still used, at least in part, to screen films, the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood is definitely a place to be proud to have seen a film in, and you can take a look at the famous handprints outside while you queue. The Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard has been preserved as part of Hollywood’s cinematic history and is now again in use for screening films, having been incorporated into a 14 screen complex. Not had your fanaticism for film fulfilled yet? Try the New Beverly Cinema on Beverly Boulevard for screenings of both classic and new films in a traditional revival setting.
Drive-in movie theatres
Outdoor cinema is big in LA. If you’re lucky enough to be enjoying glorious weather both day and night (this is Hollywood after all) then you can truly get into the spirit of things by spending an evening at one of the city’s drive-in cinemas.
Devil’s Night Drive-in in downtown Los Angeles is open all year round and is one of the best-loved drive-in cinemas in southern California. Enjoy music from DJ Morgan before the start of the film and grab some food from the vendors who come to your cars. Don’t drive? Don’t panic: walk-ins and bike-ins are welcome too. If you don’t mind a half-an-hour drive to your drive-in, consider trying the Vineland Drive-in Movie Theatre for screenings of two films back to back.
Time your trip right and you can catch one of the annual summer film festivals, like Fandango’s Eat See Hear, which combines some of the best-loved classic films with live music and food from some of the city’s favourite trucks.
As if that wasn’t enough LA nightlife to keep you going, the city boasts a music scene to write home about. Prominently located on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, the famous Roxy Theatre is one of LA’s legendary music venues and has played a part in music history, including classic performances from the likes of Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. Nowadays it remains one of the coolest places to catch up-and-coming bands, or intimate shows from more well-known acts.
If you prefer your music on the rockier side of rock ‘n’ roll, then you won’t want to miss the world famous Whisky A Go Go. At home on the Sunset Strip since 1964, this iconic rock venue has played host to the likes of The Doors, Led Zeppelin and Janis Joplin. Nowadays, the venue still stays true to its heritage, showcasing some of the most exciting new bands the world of rock has to offer.
Sticking with the Sunset Strip, The Viper Room also hosts a wide variety of new music acts. If you are a fan of metal or punk rock, then this once favourite haunt of the Hollywood rich and famous is worth a visit. Formerly owned by Johnny Depp, The Viper Room is infamously saw the death of promising young actor River Phoenix – though this association did little to dull enthusiasm for the venue among the Hollywood elite during the ‘90s.
And yet LA has even more to offer you if you’re a big fan of live music. Head to Hollywood’s Amoeba to immerse yourself in the world’s largest record store, learn from the resident experts, and catch one of the live acts relishing in the chance to perform in one of the world’s most famous independent record stores.
If comedy is more your thing, then LA boasts some of the finest venues to catch up-and-coming comedians on their way to stardom. The famous Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Franklin Avenue hosts nightly improvisation and sketch shows, while M.i Westside Comedy theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard also prides itself on being a favourite venue for improvisational comedy shows.
Other favourite comedy venues in the city include the Laugh Factory on Sunset Boulevard, The Groundlings Theatre on Melrose Avenue, and the ACME Comedy Theatre on La Brea Avenue. Renowned as a springboard of talent, LA’s comedy clubs are sure not to disappoint if you have a taste for a show from an act you probably haven’t seen before in a cool, intimate venue.
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