Stepping into Los Angeles‘ hottest new club, DBA, feels like the beginning of a stylized dream — or hallucination. Performers clad in dystopian Victorian costumes stroll around the 6,000-square-foot space, go-go dancers show off their moves atop tables and a space-like creature whose helmet is illuminated in LED lights floats across the dance floor.
This is not Burning Man — it’s West Hollywood.
Fresh off its opening, the nightspot from Los Angeles-based hospitality group Cardiff Giant started welcoming Hollywood’s stylish set to experience its provocative party atmosphere toward the end of last year. Its goal is to reinvent Los Angeles nightlife, and DBA is well on its way to doing just that. Short for “Doing Business As,” the dance club, music venue and interactive creative space is different from any other club in the city because it takes on whatever identity its guest curator decides, and a new curator takes over every three to five months.
Simon Hammerstein (grandson of famed lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II) designed the current, inaugural spectacle he calls Esque, a night of performance that has been described as Cirque du Soleil meets Eyes Wide Shut. Those in the know may be familiar with Hammerstein’s legendary theaters of varieties, The Box in New York City and The Box Soho in London. He then succeeded in opening The Act in Dubai, as well as producing the interactive theater experience, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 in New York. For Esque, he had complete control over the décor of the space, staging, set and costume designs, in addition to a racy storefront window display that teases what partygoers will ultimately find inside.
Once you’ve made arrangements, you’ll be shown to your table where you can mix drinks and wait for your night to begin. Performers may commence with a futuristic waltz on the dance floor in front of you, followed by a risqué cabaret performance; but don’t turn away because you don’t want to miss the moment when a nymph riding a Salvador Dalí-esque elephant walking on stilts and wearing a Venetian carnival mask emerges.
The performers are highly interactive: They will compliment you, dance with you and surprise you from behind, gently tilting your head back and pouring a coconut flavored shot down your throat (leave your inhibitions outside on Santa Monica Boulevard).
For those who are open to it, there’s an effect that all the performance, revelry and (frankly) bottle service has on the crowd, as the night pushes into the wee hours of the morning — or at least until 2 a.m. — invisible boundaries between tables collapse and everyone pushes toward the dance floor, not caring who you’re dancing with or what kind of music is vibing through the space. You’re just surrendering to Esque and the night, and perhaps the rainbow-colored octopus crowd surfing over your head.
Unless you’re Leonardo DiCaprio, CeeLo Green, Miley Cyrus or are running with the celebrity entourages that frequent the space, you’ll want to make a reservation on DBA’s website. Table service starts at $1,500 and gives you a prime vantage point for the evening’s spectacle. However, if you show up and are deemed worthy of entrance, there’s a chance you may traverse the velvet rope and enjoy drinks from the bar.
Photo Courtesy of Maggie West