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CLUB SCENE : Love and the Young Insomniac

October 21, 1994|SYLVIA L. OLIANDE

Most people enjoy radio station KROQ-FM's call-in advice program "Loveline" from the privacy of their homes and cars. Others prefer a more active experience, listening along with fellow patrons at the Insomnia Cafe in Sherman Oaks, where the show is broadcast over the stereo system each Wednesday night.

THE LOVE: Reaction was mixed among Insomniacs about having the problems of lovelorn radio callers piped into their evening. Some came just for the experience of listening to the myriad teen-ager and twentysomething problems in a room full of teen-agers and twentysomethings. Others either ignored the radio broadcast or were irritated by it. "It's too loud. We can't talk much over it," said one man. Still, the program was often drowned out by the din of lively conversation in the room.

THE SCENE: It's a coffeehouse in the true sense of the word--cozy, smoky and full of people chatting, reading, playing cards and hanging out. The decor is a mix of older couches and chairs that look as though they're from an 18th-Century parlor, along with booths, tables and chairs across the room. Outside, along Ventura Boulevard, people can sit in movie-theater seats and portable chairs and watch the world race by. On the menu are all types of coffees and teas, pastries, cold drinks and a few lunch items such as soups and sandwiches.

THE CROWD: "It's a good age group, not too young and not too old. People come in and get along well," said 20-year-old Cynthia Schkliar of Van Nuys. Ages range from early teens to late 20s and the regulars are a tightknit bunch. The dress is casual, with jeans and T-shirts the norm.

THE GOOD: Most people come for coffee and conversation. A few said it's a nice atmosphere for artists and a place to rub elbows with entertainment-industry types. Alejandro Seri, 26, of North Hills was in the market for a new hangout when he came across Insomnia. "We come for our script meetings," said the independent filmmaker. "It's centrally located and it has a creative atmosphere. I like to sit here and watch all the different people too."

THE BAD: A few of the regulars--and former regulars--are turned off by the crowds that have shown up over the past year. Said Northridge resident Christy Marin, 24: "There used to be a variety of people here, but now it's mostly high school--which is OK, because they can't go to places that serve alcohol. But I'm not in high school anymore." She added that Insomnia has a nice atmosphere, but is too popular for its own good.

THE WORD: One regular said that her group practically owns the place. But she's not against new people coming to her hangout. "If they're good-looking and interesting, sure."

Insomnia Cafe, 13718 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. Sundays to Thursdays. (818) 990-9945. " Loveline " is broadcast on KROQ 106.7 - FM from 10 p.m. to midnight Sunday to Thursday.

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