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Island Nugget in Hollywood

The long-running Jamaican Gold, which recently moved to Dragonfly, turns on music, dance fever.

October 15, 1998|HEIDI SIEGMUND CUDA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Jamaican Gold, a sizzling hot club of reggae and dance hall music, is lighting up Hollywood on Sunday nights at Dragonfly. Between the Philly blunts and the chillacious attitude of its customers, this long-running reggae club inspires an almost Zen-like comfort level and has gotten better with age.

Jamaican Gold, which recently moved to the expanded Dragonfly from Martini Lounge in order to grow, keeps the beats flowing without the monotony that usually sets in at reggae-themed dance clubs. The reason? The deejay power is pumped up here. Where other venues are content to spin maximum Bob Marley, Jamaican Gold interests itself in cutting-edge music, playing the freshest vinyl from the island that inspired its name and hiring touring artists to come down and knock out a lick or two.

One of the first clubs in Hollywood to put dance hall reggae artists such as Shaggy, Buju Banton and Super Cat on heavy rotation, Jamaican Gold caters to a savvy bunch of music lovers, who want to be aurally challenged on a weekly basis. At Dragonfly, where walls have been torn down to create a larger dance floor, the Sunday night club is thriving again.

Sunday, once considered the most off-night in club land, has become one of Dragonfly's best nights. The guest list is cut off by 11 p.m. because Jamaican Gold usually hits capacity somewhere around midnight. That's 400 reggae heads all in the same spot.

Dragonfly's stage functions as an all-comers star search for dancers: Those with the best moves get to hold the limelight the longest. Like the feverish underground Saturday club Chocolate Bar, Jamaican Gold is one of the best clubs to check out the dancers. Rather than wait till these moves end up in one of next year's Gap ads, you can see what the streets are currently concocting.

For those content to kick back and people-watch, you can't beat the scene here. From Rastafarians to neo-hippies to glamour girls, folks here have their own interpretation of "one love."

With the music as hot as the sweat-drenched dancers, Dragonfly's spacious patio offers something Jamaican Gold's previous location didn't: a place to cool off under the night sky.

A word of caution to newcomers, though: Get to the club early or plan to hang behind the velvet rope for one, long-arse time.

BE THERE

Jamaican Gold at Dragonfly on Sundays, 6510 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 466-6111. 21 and over. $10-$12 cover.

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