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Dancing the Night Away : Michelle's XXX Revue in West Hollywood turns up the heat at Peanuts, especially after the clock strikes midnight, --with an exercise in freedom of choice.

September 25, 1997|HEIDI SIEGMUND CUDA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Riddle me this: Why do the best dance clubs in Los Angeles tend to be gay clubs? A visit to Michelle's XXX Revue may hold the answer.

At Michelle's, a Tuesday night dance party held at the 7969 club--still commonly known as Peanuts--it's all about freedom of expression. Its clientele, which is predominantly composed of black lesbians, set the tone, and the attitude clearly is "be who you are."

Insecurities about attractiveness, a common symptom of most traditional dance clubs, seem irrelevant here. Women, as we know, come in all sizes, shapes and colors, and that fact is celebrated at Michelle's all night long. Founded by 7969 promoter Michelle Levy, who began working at the club in her teens 15 years ago, Michelle's celebrates its fifth anniversary this week, and its staying power has something to do with its entertainment package, so to speak.

Unlike a lot of clubs, Michelle's starts jumpin' from the moment the doors open at 9 p.m., and continues until closing at 2 a.m. The deejay's soulful blend of contemporary hip-hop and older R&B keeps the dance floor crowded, but its peak time occurs at midnight, when Michelle's signature burlesque show, an event that is more "show" than "peep," gets up and running.

It's truly a sight to see. Just minutes before the clock strikes 12, audience members begin scurrying for seats like some grown-up version of duck, duck goose. The rush is on, because only those seated along the edges of the dance floor get the opportunity to tip the dancers. It's all very orchestrated, with burly security guards accompanying the dancers to make certain the flirtations remain a hands-off affair.

Anybody is welcome at the club, but because the audience is primarily women, the energy during the dance sequences is celebratory and festive. As in any club that attracts singles, there may be lust in the air, but there's also a cool sense of pride.

Somewhere around 1 a.m., the female emcee announces the end of the show and the club is transformed back into a dance party, with a high-energy music mix bringing the evening to its inevitable conclusion.

Before the night's over, however, one thing is certain. At Michelle's XXX Revue, sisters clearly are doing it for themselves.

BE THERE

Michelle's XXX Revue at 7969, Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (213) 654-0280. 21 & over, $10 cover.

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