Dance floor at the Cicada Club, May 2015
Although not as grand as Gatsby Party, there is a hidden gem in downtown Los Angeles that is just as transportive.
You can pass by the Oviatt Building a million times and be completely unaware that anything happens there. You might think that it was a victim of Downtown L.A.’s long fall and sudden recent rise that caused many abandoned and paper covered storefronts along the downtown core. Walking past the row of non-descript buildings it is hard to believe that 617 S. Olive really jumps on the weekends when it becomes a vintage music and dance venue.
On event nights the elaborate gates that protect the building on off days are pushed back revealing beautiful Art Deco starburst doors. You are greeted by a doorman in a vintage uniform whose job it is to welcome you to the secret dance club. The Cicada Club’s dimly lit ballroom decorated in dusty rose, golds, dark woods, and geometric details are indicative of Art Deco design in keeping with what it may have looked like in the 20s if it had been a club instead of a haberdashery.
Although it may leave you a little too stuffed to dance I really recommend coming early for dinner. This is your only chance to grab one of the tables that circle the dance floor. The table you reserve is yours for the night and more often than not the price of your dance ticket is included in the prix fixe dinner cost. Your table is a great place to come back to when you need to take a break.
The real spotlight here is the live music and dancing. Musicians are talented and they definitely get into character. Vintage clothing, pomade, pencil thin moustaches, and “sultry sparrows of song” in 40s gowns. The dance floor is a bit small for the number of attendees that end up dancing, so be ready to get cozy. A favorite place of mine is the balcony overlooking the dance floor to watch and admire those who can really dance. Just a note that strangers will ask you to dance if you look a little lonely.
There is a dress code and dressing up in vintage or vintage inspired clothing (1920s to 1950s) is strongly encouraged and Cicada politely links you to vintage costume rental and vintage for purchase options. This part may cause some groans from your friends, but really how many times do you have the chance to dress up in perpetually casual Los Angeles?
If springing for dinner isn’t in the cards, you can purchase individual dance tickets. For those of you who are new to swing or a little rusty, there is a dance lesson at every event an hour before the live band begins.
If you walk inside the Cicada Club and think it looks familiar, that is because it has been seen in Mad Men, Blackish, the current American Horror Story’s season as Hotel Cortez.
Where: 617 S. Olive Street
When: All year round, but check website for dates
Cost: Ranges depending on how much Cicada Club you want to do. $20 dance tickets in advance and $25 at the door. (pesky online surcharge is $2.50, but guarantees entry) Anywhere from $49-$79 for dinner and in my experience a dance ticket is included with dinner, but as always read carefully.
The next open night is Sunday December 6th.
NEXT ON THIS UGLY BEAUTIFUL CITY….REMEMBER WHEN I TOLD YOU SANTA MONICA IS MORE THAN THE PIER?