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Where Country-Rock Meets Republicans

September 12, 1987|MAX JACOBSON

The Coconut Teaszer, a gaudy, pink stucco landmark on one of West Hollywood's busiest corners, Sunset and Crescent Heights, has something of a split personality: By day, it's a barbecue restaurant serving ribs, chicken, corn-on-the-cob and coleslaw to local business people and out-of-work actors. By night, it transforms into one of Los Angeles' hottest music clubs, coming alive with almost cultish energy. On weekends, lines to get in often stretch a block down Sunset.

Go to Teaszer in the late evening, after 10:30 p.m. when things really start to jump and you'll notice that nights at this club have a Jekyll and Hyde quality too.

Bird-Bath Sized Drinks

Half of its labyrinthine interior is a rather lame, neon-flooded bar where a disc jockey plays top 40 hits like "Rock Steady" and old favorites like "That's the Way (I Like It)" while the over-30 crowd huddles around the bar, clutching bird-bath size drinks and shouting conversation. The really brave can be seen on the sawdust-covered dance floor just adjacent to the bar, dancing to these tunes and trying to work off the extra-large slab of ribs they probably had for dinner.

And yet, there's something almost Republican about this side of Teaszer. People wear hot but "safe" fashions that look like they were bought at a Westside boutique. My companion, a budding rock singer, pointed out two or three people who work in the record industry, including a well-heeled producer. You get the feeling there might even be a business deal in progress.

To get to the back bar, you walk through a long, mirror-lined hallway that takes 10 minutes on a busy night--so many young rockers pause for reflection and preening.

The back bar is one of those places that looks like a Southwest rodeo bar, where you expect Texas Rangers to come bursting in at any moment to bust things up. The crowd here is much more hard-core--attired for a dry, dusty climate, the men sporting cowboy hats and heavy boots, the women dolled up, with fluorescent lipstick and earrings big enough for a coyote to jump through.

Nobody Moves Very Much

Everybody is clutching a Corona or a Dos Equis, drinking straight from the bottle. Nobody is moving much, except for the steady nodding of their heads, as they listen to a country rock band, led by singer-guitarist Christine Lakeland who holds nearly everyone's attention, except for three video game players off in their own world in a corner. It's easy to come here and become oblivious to the outside world.

Perhaps that's the secret of the Coconut Teaszer's broad appeal, or perhaps it's the low cover charge ($3 on weekdays, $5 on weekends). The noise level is not overbearing as in some clubs and the lighting is soft and pleasing. It's a pop culture version of a country bar, in the middle of a big city. And the food is pretty good too.

The Coconut Teaszer, 8117 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles; (213) 654-4773.

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