Updated on the 1st of every month
by Veronica Hallowell
"Pick up your tickets at the airport," my boss said to my co-worker Annie and me after making last minute arrangements to send the two of us to L.A. on a three day business trip. We left with his Visa in our pocket and a handful of petty cash we managed to weasel out of our office accountant. Although I'd been to different parts of California, I had yet to visit Los Angeles-the city of plastic perfection, stars and Starbucks, actress/waitresses, and non-smoking restaurants. While we received plenty of warnings about the weird types who inhabit the apparent City of Angels, Annie and I decided our trip would be a great chance to do some anthropological research of our own.
Thanks to U.S. Customs and American Airlines security combined with a stop over in Chicago and the predictable L.A. traffic from the airport to our hotel, our first day was a disappointing write off. Despite working 12 hours the following day and attempting to adjust to the three-hour time change, we were determined to go out and experience the city's nightlife. The sea of Juicy Couture sweat suits, Louis Vuitton purses, Porsche jeeps and limo services that we had so far witnessed convinced us that a.) these people have money, and b.) these people spend money, therefore c.) there must be some pretty amazing clubs in this city where everyone goes to admire each other and spend more money.
Typical tourists, we asked around about the night scene until one club ranked considerably higher than the rest in our informal poll, the roof of The Standard Hotel. This club was apparently where all the magazines have their parties during L.A. Fashion Week and where big name musicians held private events. Okay, we thought, this place has to be impressive. When 11 o'clock rolled around, we decided to head down to The Standard. After all, closing time in L.A. is 2 o'clock. At the hotel, we took an elevator to the roof and, upon exit, were kindly asked to show some identification. "For real?" I asked as I pulled out my Quebec driver's license. "I'm a bit flattered." Embarrassed, Annie was quick to remind me that drinking age in the good old US of A is 21, and that I could easily pass for an underage person here. But once the bouncer moved aside to let us pass, we stopped bickering and admired the view. Despite being completely open and equipped with space heaters, there was a free-standing fireplace in the middle of the bar. Up a flight of stairs, circular waterbeds led the way to an in-ground pool. Across the street a movie was being projected on the side of a building. Although the thought of drunk people leaning over the railing or sitting at the edge of the pool was a little frightening, it was an otherwise spectacular sight.
Annie and I sat at the bar and ordered martinis, and soon enough the first contestant in the "Can I buy you ladies a drink?" game stepped forward. His name was Derek and, yes, he was an actor-an occupation that the name Derek usually implies anyway. He was good-looking in that I-work-out-everyday-and-take-vitamins-and-frequent-tanning-beds-and-use-under-eye-cream-and-you-never-know-I-had-a-nose-job kind of way. But after a few minutes of talking to him about acting and working out-"No one realizes just how hard acting is," and "I'm on the South Beach diet, so I really shouldn't be drinking this, ha ha ha" -we informed him that our drinks were already on their way and abruptly ended the conversation by bringing up politics. The rest of the evening was filled with at least a dozen other Derek-types, some Chads, a few Todds, and one Stephan (and we're pretty sure his real name was Steven). Despite the amazing atmosphere, the people were much less desirable, although they nevertheless looked pretty from a distance. Disappointed, we asked for our bill. After shelling out $85 dollars US for our six martinis in total, we had really had enough.
Back at the hotel, we raided the mini-bar guilt-free-our room was on our boss's credit card-and periodically went outside for cigarettes. Although smoking in the mild Californian breeze wasn't exactly unpleasant, I couldn't help but think how truly special it is to come home from a Montreal bar reeking of smoke, totally trashed, with phone numbers of guys with names like "Mike," "Jon," and "David," and realize that you only spent $25-and that's Canadian.
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