Wednesday, August 17, 2005

You Can't Go Home Again

"People have to drink somewhere. Why not here?"

That was Joan Crawford's famous line in the 1945 film "Mildred Pierce." "Here" is the Derby in Los Feliz, California, specifically its signature oval bar which dominates the center of the club to this day. More recently, the Derby, and once again the oval bar, is where Jon Favreau meets Heather Graham (aka Rollergirl) at the end of SWINGERS. In the 1990's, the Derby was ground zero for the swing music revival. BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY was the house band on Wednesday nights and other regular acts were ROYAL CROWN REVUE and BRIAN SETZER. Lines full of hip dancing fools ran around the corner and down Los Feliz Boulevard (there's nothing quite like seeing a 90s woman in a 40s dress!).

I'd love to describe my first experience at the Derby, but my lawyer has advised against it as I could open myself up to prosecution. Let's just say a good time was had by all, not to mention all of the subsequent evenings spent in this old Hollywood gem. Now, however, our good friends in the real estate development business have decided that the best thing for the Derby, and its loyal following, is to tear it down and build a high rise aparment building and "retail center."

The ugliness can be viewed here:

While other areas of the city (espeically Hollywood) work to refurbish their historic sites, Alder Realty Investments, Inc. (aka Satan) has decided that the last of the Hollywood Derby clubs, which began with the Brown Derby on Wilshire Boulevard in 1926, must come down. The original Brown Derby (the one in the shape of a brown derby) is now a Korean strip mall. The Ambassador Hotel, across from the original Brown Derby and the place where Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, is also being torn down and replaced with a high school. The Derby in Los Feliz opened in 1941 and moved to its present spot in the 1960s. It is one of the last architechtural monuments to Hollywood's "golden era" and certainly the last vestiage of the famous Derby clubs.

Like CBGBs in New York City, I hope Los Angelenos rally to keep this historic and kick ass club open. People have to drink somewhere!!!!!

Want to help keep the drinks flowing? E-MAIL L.A. CITY COUNCILMAN TOM LaBONGE (who represents the Los Feliz area) at:

1 comment:

Crackpot Press said...

Special Note... the building the currently houses the Derby was also Arnolds Drive In on the 70's show Happy Days...

Where the hell is Fonzie when you need him.