There are many facts of life, and one is that Los Angeles is humongous and terrifying to navigate. Doing anything in LA, from hiking to eating to going to the beach, requires research because there are so many options — a blessing and a curse. Nightlife is no different, and it can feel intimidating to pick a place out of the fear that it’s a total bust, and you wasted a perfectly good night out and going-out fit. We’ve all been there, but luckily we have some recommendations from UCLA girls who know that the Westwood Rocco’s is not always the move. Here are nine solid recommendations:
- The Victorian
Located right in Santa Monica, The Victorian is a super picturesque restaurant that turns into a club at night. This place, located just one block from the beach, came recommended by Isabelle Kelly,* who says “The Victorian is great because there are three levels (basement, main level and upstairs) and an outdoor area, and all of them have different vibes!” Therefore, there’s a spot for everyone. The Victorian is 21+ and typically does not have a cover fee unless there is a special event (which luckily is not typical on weekends).
Some additional tips about The Victorian are to be aware of their prices, as Isabelle has “paid upwards of $20 for a simple Moscow Mule, so be wary.” Also, this is a spot where you want to get there early to beat the long lines, so try to arrive between 10:00 and 11:00 pm.
- Barney’s Beanery
Not wanting to stray from Westwood, Isabelle also has you covered with her second recommendation of Barney’s Beanery. Barney’s is for the nights when we want something more chill. Isabelle recommends it because “Barney’s is great if you want to go out but want a more low-key vibe, my favorite times to go are on Thursdays for karaoke and game days!”
Barney’s is 21+ and has drinks more on the affordable side. Isabelle told HC at UCLA that “Barney’s is generally pretty reasonable if you want a simple drink, [running between] $12-16.” We also don’t have to worry about a cover fee with this recommendation.
1212 is one of my personal favorites. If Hannah Hunch* did not recommend it, I would have. 1212 is located in Santa Monica on 3rd St. Promenade and also serves as a restaurant during the day and a nightclub on Fridays, Saturdays and occasionally Thursdays. What sets 1212 apart is they often feature silk dancers or men on LED stilts that make them look like robots.
1212 is 21+ and does not have a cover fee. Because of its prime location, the line can be a little long, so it’s always good to come around 10:30 pm when the last of the dinner crowd has cleared out.
- The Bungalow
Santa Monica should really have an award for having so many great nightlife places, as this recommendation is also located there. Hannah also recommended the Bungalow because “it is a mix of an indoor and outdoor space. The outdoor space is well decorated and makes a great atmosphere.”
This option is 21+, and it does not have a cover fee.
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Switching up neighborhoods, this fun option is located in Ktown. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (what a cute name) came recommended by Mary Jonas,* who told Her Campus at UCLA, “I love Kiss Kiss Bang Bang! They have a whole disco vibe with live performers, [so] if you like disco I really recommend going!”
This 21+ place definitely sounds like a vibe, and it has no cover fee! Jonas gave us all the information we needed to know regarding drink prices, atmosphere and overall experience: “I just got a Well’s drink, and it was a popular spot, so it was pricey but pretty standard for Los Angeles. The men there were a little weird, with some of them being a little older. There was also a fun outdoor patio to take breaks from dancing, as well as a photo booth! But overall, if you like ABBA and dance music, it’s a really cute spot with a fun area.”
She also tells us to make sure to get there early because it can get packed, and “only go if you like dance music or else you will not have fun!”
- Blue Collar
This recommendation is for the girlies who don’t want to dance but rather just sit and debrief their week. Blue Collar, recommended by Becca Phan,* is a bar in West Hollywood that is so intimate, there’s not even a menu. Becca told HC at UCLA, “I like that it’s no menu and the bartenders customize it to your taste. It is a super cozy place where you can just talk and chill.”
The place is 21+, has no cover fee, and is actually very affordable by LA standards. Customized drinks are only $13 (that’s not even an AMF at Rocco’s!)!! The place is overall chill, and as Becca says, “Just order and grab a seat.”
- Harvelle’s Long Beach
Harvelle’s is for people who truly want an all-encompassing experience. It’s a little ways away in Long Beach, but it is a burlesque show that includes a bar and dining options. This place was recommended by Willow Rodriguez,* who was able to tell us everything we need to know. For example, the “cover fee” is a requirement to buy typically two or more drinks, but this standard changes based on the night and the event. However, Willow says the drinks are not outrageously priced. Also, come early as it is first come first serve based on ticket admission.
This bar is recommended by our very own editor, Megha Gupta! Ep/Lp is located in Santa Monica and seems like the perfect mixture of chill and excitement. Megha writes that “Ep/Lp is a rooftop Santa Monica bar that overlooks a good majority of LA and has a beautiful outdoor bar and seating. The vibes are so fun, the music choice is great and there is a good mix of people from all over. The drinks are slightly pricey (it’s Santa Monica lol) but I think the crowd is super chill and it’s perfect when the weather is warm.”
The bar is 21+, and there is no cover fee. However, the drinks are slightly pricey averaging about $18 dollars per cocktail.
Megha is a girl who knows all the places for different vibes. Her last recommendation was more chill, but Nightingale is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Megha writes, “Nightingale is a fast-paced club in LA that’s more of an older club and kind of expensive table-wise, but if you get in through a promoter, you get an entire table and alcohol for free. It’s very club-esque with bird cages you can dance in, and a great DJ and strobe lights. The atmosphere is always loud and popping and it’s super popular since a lot of people go there on Saturday and Sunday nights.”
Nightingale definitely sounds like the place to be if one is able to get the right connections. If one does not have a promoter there is a cover fee and slightly spicy cocktails, but Megha definitely makes it sound like the experience is worth it. Also, one should know that there are several bouncers at Nightingale, so be prepared to be checked multiple times before being admitted entry.
From the chill bars to the fast-paced clubs, there is a spot on this list for everyone! I hope these options make the LA night scene a little less daunting, and always remember to stay safe, be smart and have fun no matter where you are going.
*All asterisked names are aliases of students who wished to remain anonymous