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UP ALL NIGHT : Elite Meet at the Roxbury

May 12, 1991|KEVIN ALLMAN

Up on Sunset Boulevard, where they grow the billboards big and glossy, is a club called the Roxbury.

It's big and glossy itself, a three-level affair with restaurant, jazz bar and discotheque under one roof. Owners Elie and Demitri Samaha, Chris Breed and Brad Johnson opened the club on a site that was Preston Sturges' Players' Club in the 1940s and most recently held the Imperial Gardens.

The Roxbury doesn't keep getting national write-ups for its food nor its music. The attention is for parties like the Oscar Night tribute to Stanley Kramer. It's for the movie premieres. Most of all, it's for the regulars--the kind of regulars that need one name only. Kiefer. Julia. Arsenio. Eddie. Sly. And Mickey. (Not Mickey Mouse.)

Stars aside, the club prides itself on a non-discriminatory door policy, but everyone inside seems to be (to put it mildly) facially gifted. Men tend to look like the models in the C&R commercials (both the before and the after), while the predominant female fashion influence is Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman" (the before and the after). The most important male fashion accessory is muscles. For females, it's legs.

The dance floor is packed from the time it opens about 10:30, with couples turning the beat around with a mix of Top 40 tunes from the 1970s, '80s and '90s. One nice touch: The dance floor is dim, with no traditional disco lights. Weary dancers can rest up on the comfortable overstuffed couches in the hallway alcoves, shoot a game of pool or prepare to do battle to get into the VIP room.

Ah, the VIP room. Though the club may be packed with stars (one Tuesday turned up Prince, Gerardo, Elle MacPherson, Charles Fleischer and New York club fixture Nikki Haskell), they're hidden away from the hoi polloi and sometimes spirited in and out on a back staircase.

In short, the Roxbury lives up to its internationally hip reputation. Any place where your parking claim check warns that there will be a 20-minute minimum wait for your car has to be hot.

It's hardly the underground variety of hip. The footwear is Maud Frizon, not Doc Martens combat boots. And the patrons tend to exhibit that familiar club mix of arrogance and insecurity: the arrogance that comes from being in the right place at the right time and the insecurity of wondering if you really do belong with Julia and Kiefer and Arsenio and Prince.

That's L.A., circa 1991. That's probably also why the Roxbury has been the L.A. club of the moment for quite a few moments now. If you build a celebrity clientele, they will come.

Name: Roxbury, 8225 Sunset Blvd., (213) 656-1750. Open Tuesday through Saturday (discotheque closed Wednesday).

Cover: $10.

Doormen: Plenty. Two layers of them at the front door, with others at different points around the club.

Features: Dinner, dancing, live jazz and star gazing.

Prices: Valet parking, $5. Domestic beer, $4. Restaurant minimum, $20.

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