Is Lucent Dossier the Future of Los Angeles Nightlife?

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I think I stumbled onto something big. Except I’m two years late. And it’s so esoteric there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of it. It starts off with a flyer. Once you’re committed, you get an e-mail with a street address. Once at the address, a shuttle picks you up and takes you to a warehouse space in downtown LA. For the rest of the night, you’re exposed to a wild event full of freaks, hippies, goths, and everything in between dancing, socializing, and engaging in a number of cabaret/dance/aerial performances. There’s a lot of make-up and costumes, wigs and props. It’s a twisted experience with a nod to the Victorian era and Burning Man. It’s Marie Antoinette gone wrong, Cirque Du Soleil on acid, but also the best thing that ever happened to L.A. nightlife. As producer/perform Dayna Riesgo likes to call it: "It’s a fully immersive experience where vaudeville meets the future dressed as a Victorian Mad Max warrior." Enter: Lucent Dossier.

Lucent Dossier has been around for almost ten years, producing stage performances of the cabaret variety, traveling around the world, and even entertaining the thousands at Burning Man every year with trippy stylings and, sure, a pinch of crazy. They put together their first large-scale Experience event as an underground party two years ago. It was so successful that they threw another one only two months later, which was busted by the cops. With a proper license, they unfurled their world once again this past weekend. Pre-sale tickets to the show sold out within hours with a maximum occupancy of 470, so they tacked on an extra night, which also sold out. So it only begged the question: what the hell happens at Lucent Dossier?

I arrived around 10 PM, when show time started, with my friend Cat. The warehouse space was as expected—industrial with concrete walls, exposed pipes and beams—but tricked out with laser stage lights and design touches that revisited the mid-1800s. A laundry line of lingerie hung along the beams, a twiggy iron chandelier piece racked high above the dance floor, glittery curtains draped, a loft-style second floor with surprises to come. It was unabashedly theatrical.

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But it’s not the first thing you notice. Cat and I were completely underdressed for the occasion. It was a costume party, or felt like it. There was a lot of fish netting with bare asses, corsets and ballerina slippers, bejeweled and painted faces (thanks to the "Transformation Station" in the corner), top hats and furry vests, feather head dresses, velvet, silver, leather, stilettos, 1920s-style suits, teddies, capes magicians wear, and cloaks that vampires wear. The place was full of theater geeks, neo-ravers, goths, hippies, and what I would like to think was combination of all. Often, we didn’t know the difference between the patrons and the performers, who were also decked out in similar, outrageous period pieces that one would otherwise never wear to, like, The Abbey. Even still, there were "normal" dressers, like skinny-jeaned hipsters, a handful of Asians in J. Crew, a bunch of gays in flannel, sorority girls in high-heels, jocks on MDMA, and real estate brokers with business cards. And somehow it worked. It was a melting pot of scenesters who just let go and be themselves, whoever they might be.

The performances were top-notch with almost a dozen choreographed dance numbers, cabaret, aerialists on rings, and performance art—some comical, some intense. Every ten minutes or so, the dance floor would break apart for these vignettes; then the patrons would gather again when the short show was over. Music ranged from swing to dub step and, again, it just worked. It’s the type of act bars and lounges are trying to deliver in Los Angeles, like the speak-easy style of Pour Vous, a fancy lounge that offers aerialist shows a few times a night. Or even the new Emerson Theatre by SBH, with the cabaret theme weaved into the entire set-up. Lucent Dossier has managed to take all these elements and do it better. A lot better. There was something interesting here, something that felt future-forward and not relying on the past in a gimmicky sort or way. Lucent Dossier was an idea, a statement, a movement. At one point, the host said, "Ladies and gentlemen, everything is a fantasy." And if fantasy is the future, then they’re on the right track.

lucent dossier

Cat and I left just after midnight, when more shuttle vans were arriving with late-night revelers dressed to the goth nines, and we knew we were going to miss the best part. Turns out they concocted a human sundae: a claw-foot tub full of people. "Lucent Dossier would never work in New York," she told me when we were dropped off at my car. And she’s right. Only in L.A., but the L.A. of the future, which is, thanks to Lucent Dossier, now. 

This Week’s L.A. Happenings: Lock & Key Opens, Female Chef Takeover, Sunday Roast

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Now: Lock & Key Opens In Koreatown
Blame it on Gangnam Style; Koreatown is fast becoming the hood that should be on your radar. Not only is The Line slated to open this year (by the Sydell Group, responsible for NYC’s Nomad Hotel) but LA Weekly recently named Koreatown "America’s Hippest Neighborhood." Lending to this movement: Lock & Key. The new bar and lounge opened last week and is paying tribute to the 1920s speakeasy theme. Expect a hidden entrance, array of fancy cocktails concocted with boutique spirits and liquors, and international, Asian street food. You don’t need a secret code to enter but (spoiler) the red door is a giveaway. Just make sure you know the right doorknob and lock (out of many) that grants you entrance.

Lock & Key (239 S. Vermont Ave., Koreatown) is now open. For more information, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Tuesday: Female Chefs Take Over Abigaile’s Kitchen
We can take the heat in the kitchen, thanks to Kitchen Takeover at Abigaile Restaurant with a roster of all-female chefs cooking up a five-course dinner in honor of National Women’s History Month. Some of LA’s hottest tastemakers, like mixologist Lindsay Nadar (Son of a Gun, Pour Vous) and Danielle Keene (Top Chef Just Desserts), will ensure vixen fixins’.

The Kitchen Takeover III is $65, with proceeds benefiting the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. Call 310-798-8227 to make a reservation. For more information on Abigaile (1301 Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach), check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Sunday: The Pikey’s Classic Sunday Roast
Scenester’s favorite modern, West Hollywood gastropub The Pikey is now serving a late-afternoon, British-style Sunday roast, with a rotation of English-themed dishes a true Englishman would approve of. Local and organic dishes include beef short ribs and roasts of lamb with mint jelly and duck fat potatoes, among other hearty entrees. Sorry, fish and chips!

The Classic Sunday Roast is held every Sunday for an indefinite period with a $22 per person menu. For more information on The Pikey (7617 West Sunset Boulevard), visit the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Be the first to know about the latest openings & events in L.A. by signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings email. Even better: download the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android and know every inch of this city. 

Los Angeles Openings: Bibigo, Pour Vous, Simmzy’s Pub

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Bibigo (Beverly Hills) – Korean fast food for the rich and famous.

Pour Vous (Hollywood) – Seductive night lounge with nightly DJs and fresh oysters.

Simmzy’s Pub (Long Beach) – Long Beach gastropub serving local fish and brews.