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The China Club Faces a Fateful Countdown

December 18, 1991|DENNIS ROMERO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Andy Warhol should have said something about Los Angeles nightclubs and their 15 minutes in the spotlight.

The chic China Club in Hollywood, about 1 1/2 years old, may be seeing its last days this week. General manager Dominick J. Pallatto said a 90-day suspension of the club's business permit, levied after the city fire department found over-capacity crowds more than once at the spot, has forced owners Danny Fried and Al Volpe to consider several options that include selling the club, turning it into another venue or reopening.

Saturday is the last night before the suspension begins, and the 45-plus employees of the club fear it may be their last night at the venue.

But Pallatto said nothing is final. "I really can't tell the future. The main options are that we reopen or we sell." Pallatto pointed out that one reason not to reopen is that a three-month suspension represents a quarter of the club's income for the year.

Monday night was the last of the club's famed Pro-Jams, weekly performances where musicians' musicians jammed together and occasionally found themselves being joined by Bruce Springsteen, Sting and others.

Hang Dynasty, a Pro-Jam regular with an all-star lineup of backup musicians, rocked the crowd Monday night. The group--which is searching for a new venue--and others at the club lamented the Pro-Jam's possible passing as the death of a rare forum for top-rate live music in Los Angeles.

"There goes another place down the tubes," said Scotty Page, a saxophone player who has toured with Pink Floyd.

Basil Gold, who hosts the local cable TV show "Let's Rock 'n' Roll," called for the crowd to petition the city opposing the suspension.

But manager Pallatto discouraged him, saying, "You can't fight City Hall."

Revelers, meanwhile, partied like it was their last day on Earth. The club, maybe in a last act of defiance, allowed about 330 people in--more than a dozen people over capacity.

While most club-goers were sad to see China Club go, a few admitted that the club may have used up its Warholian fame time.

"I come here often," said one, "and it really hasn't been that hot."

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