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LOS ANGELES — Take away the mood lighting and the loud music, and the insides of most clubs are better left unseen in the daylight. But Area, the new nightspot from developer-producer Sam Nazarian and promoter Brent Bolthouse that opened last week, is an exception. “I wanted it to feel and look like a private house,” says Bolthouse, who lives in his own John Lautner-designed abode in the Hollywood Hills.
The club’s aesthetic is pure midcentury modern, from the terrazzo floors to the slate brick walls and low-slung sofas. One would hardly guess that beyond the heavy wooden doors lies the busy thoroughfare of La Cienega Boulevard. The club’s site may be familiar to those who frequented its past incarnations as The Gate and Prey, but Nazarian asserts that Area is the polar opposite of the fill-in-the-box clubs of days past. “This space was very much built from the inside out to be appealing and inviting. Not like other spaces where you’d promote for a few months and then move on,” he says.
Area’s indoor-outdoor floor plan lets patrons hang out under the stars (smoking allowed) and carry on a conversation without the deafening decibels on the dance floor (the club’s 85 speakers can be fine-tuned for different sound levels for the lounging areas and the dance floor). Each detail, from the ashtrays and the Mod-style black-and-white staff uniforms to the handhelds that they carry, was carefully considered by Nazarian’s design team. Each member of the staff is a trained bartender, and there are no waitresses. “Most people who work in clubs want to be actors, but everyone here actually knows how to make a real drink, not just set bottles of vodka on the tables,” he notes.
And what of Bolthouse’s strict VIPs-only door policy? “This isn’t like our other place, Hyde, which only fits 100 people,” he says. “We can fit 500, so the door is pretty straightforward. Show up early, and you’ll probably get in.”