Tourists from all over the world come to Hollywood, hoping to merely catch a glimpse of the bright lights that shine each evening on their television set. They walk up and down Hollywood Boulevard, between the seedy tour guides offering maps to the stars, past the encampments of homeless hunkered down on each block, searching for just the sight of a famous face, hoping for an interaction with the world of show business in the mecca of movie-making. This, in their minds, is where the magic happens.
And there is plenty of magic in Hollywood, it's just that very little of it is happening in plain view. As you may have heard in a famous song or two, nobody walks in LA. The luminary legends of the big screen are unfortunately not going for casual strolls down Vine Street. While much of what we see on TV is perfectly and painstakingly ideal, the streets of Hollywood themselves are far from curated in such a fashion.
Sure, there are reminders of fame and fortune everywhere. Notable hangouts, neon signs, and the latest celebrity entrepreneurial endeavor catch your eye every few blocks, but everything seems to be in extremes. Unlike New York or San Francisco, where much of the energy is palpable along each and every sidewalk, Hollywood feels almost desolate and lonely in comparison; as if the broken dreams of those who didn't quite make it are haunting the obscured offshoots and alleyways. Packs of women quickly scurry from their Über cars, heels clonking against the pavement, as they try to shorten the amount of time spent between taxi and club floor.
But don't let any of that fool you. Don't let any of Hollywood's urban reality crush your spirit or dishearten your dreams. There is plenty of magic happening behind closed doors. There are bars and speakeasies, dark dens of drinking and debauchery, that go completely beyond what we're capable of up north. They are hybrid houses—theme parks of dance, music, classic cocktails, and mazes of magestic history that overwhelm the senses and boggle the mind. Everything is happening here all at once, and the nature of the action changes as you move from building to building. It's a feast of the senses. "How is this even possible?" you ask yourself in disbelief?
There is no going back from this. There is no way to leave these establishments without completely questioning the fundementals of modern bartending. How can anyone compete with this level of vision, built firmly on the basic elements of fun? What I saw last night is completely beyond pretense.
What I saw was the future.