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Upscale Club With a Steady Diet of Salsa


At La Masia Restaurant, a little salsa spices up the night.

On the border of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, La Masia has been a cornerstone in this neighborhood for more than two decades.

Its heart, though, belongs to the hot sounds of Latin music that pulsate through the restaurant and dance club five nights a week.

Considered one of the few upscale salsa clubs in Los Angeles, La Masia is home to a loyal following. And it's strictly salsa--a swirling amalgam of mambo, merengue and cha cha--that has heated up the club for more than 10 years.

These days, with moves borrowed from jazz, rock and disco, the flavor of salsa is even hotter. La Masia is open for salsa dancing Wednesday through Sunday. Things start hopping on the dance floor around 9 p.m., when bands such as Dalina, Margarita Luna and Nengue take to the tiny stage that is decorated with twinkling white lights.

The beat is strong when popular favorites like "Sabor A Mi" and "Bolero" emanate throughout the club and get patrons dancing. The patrons, a broad mix of Angelenos, tend to be 30 years and older, and their enthusiasm makes for a festive atmosphere.

"I have always loved Latin music," said Stefania Magidson, who danced with her husband on a recent evening. "There are few places in Los Angeles where you can dance during the week. . . . This is a great place to dance."

On a typical night, 75 to 100 patrons wear their best clothes for a few turns on the dance floor. The couples, and many singles as well, exhibit all levels of skill.

"When you work all day, you don't have many escapes," said West Hollywood resident Raphael Cohen. "When you dance, you can be free."

According to Juancho Pereira, manager of the family-run restaurant and dance club, customers have discovered that it's also a great place to eat a fine Spanish meal. House specials include paella, chicken gitana and rack of lamb. Entrees are priced from $13 to $24.

"The food is very good, but I come here to dance," said publicist Felix Castillo of West Hollywood. "I have a lot of friends who are in the 30s and 40s. We like to come and try new steps and meet new people."

* La Masia, 9077 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Open from 6 p.m. to 1:45 a.m. Wednesday-Saturday, and from 5:30 p.m. to 1:45 a.m. on Sundays. Live bands perform salsa music from 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. On Fridays and Saturdays, there is a $10 cover charge for those who don't order dinner. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Reservations suggested. Information: (310) 273-7066.

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