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Life's Still Sweet

Chocolate Bar celebrates its third anniversary by doing what it does best: spreading the love.

September 07, 2000|HEIDI SIEGMUND CUDA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Chocolate Bar is quite possibly the most important club in Los Angeles. Mighty big words for a weekly, transient hip-hop joint, I know. But truly, Kjell, Shakespeare and Aurelito's Saturday night love-in infuses the people of Los Angeles with so much hope and positivity, it should earn 'em a key to the city.

Check this: The same week the Source awards were botched by all kinds of player-hating tomfoolery, Chocolate Bar threw its third anniversary party at a Koreatown club called Voodoo. A couple thousand people showed up. It was beautiful--a night filled with hip-hop, African drums, jazz.

Voodoo, a mystical mecca filled with Day-Glo tiki gods, gave the promoters the run of the place. And run they did--all the way out onto the golf driving range behind the venue, where Anand and his Triptet played some way cool jazz. Like so many of their concepts, it was surreal. Kjell also promotes Lesa Carlson's Off Blue at the Atlas Supper Club on Fridays, a fusion of jazz and deejaying with live art demonstrations. Aurelito and Shakespeare own Eye 'n' Eye productions, which has thrown slammin' events, from Macy Gray's Grammy after-party to Perry Farrell's tent bash at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday September 8, 2000 Home Edition Calendar Part F Page 4 Entertainment Desk 6 inches; 203 words Type of Material: Correction
Chocolate Club--Due to a production error, some sentences were garbled in a story on the Chocolate Club in Thursday's Calendar Weekend. Here is how that portion of the story should have read:
Whenever you step onto Kjell, Aurelito and Shakespeare's turf--wherever it is--you come correct. They are so respectful of their art form--promoting dance clubs that offer subtle lessons in art and music--that their guests are respectful right back. You find yourself in conversations with people you might never meet anywhere else, from Ice-T, who showed up at its first-anniversary party at the Alexandria Hotel, to actor Fred Savage, a Chocolate Bar regular.
You even want to chill with the security guards at Chocolate Bar, because they're so dang cool. I watch them, year in, year out, and they do their jobs with total professionalism minus any cop-style attitude. Sure they frisk you--but with courtesy. I caught one guard momentarily shaking his groove thang to J-5 at the foot of the VIP stairwell. He was swept up in the moment and had nothing better to do; the VIP area was empty because at Chocolate Bar, people prefer togetherness.
Maybe because the Chocolate Bar trio have their act so together, many guests at the anniversary revelry polished off the evening at after-party Inshalla, Kjell and Aurelito's downtown art gallery. Just another poetic nighttime journey, brought to you by L.A.'s finest. In a civilized world, people police themselves.

Although the weekly Chocolate Bar scene is primarily a deejay-driven dance club with occasional live bands, it is also an artistic enclave, allowing local visual artists an opportunity to show their work. And no matter where the Chocolate Bar crew gathers, its promoters bring the love. They've located it in the heart of skid row when the area was overpowered by homeless people hundreds deep, and they now have it at Gabah, a club on the low-rent end of Melrose Avenue.

*

Whenever you step onto Kjell, Aurelito and Shakespeare's turf--wherever it is--you come correct. They are so respectful of their art form--promoting dance clubs that offer subtle lessons in art and music--that their guests are respectful right back. You find yourself in conversations with people you might never meet anywhere else, from Ice-T, who showed up at its first-anniversary party at the Alexandria Hotel, to actor Fred Savage, a Chocolate Bar regular.

You even want to chill with the security guards at Chocolate Bar, because they're so dang cool. I watch them, year in, year out, and they do their jobs with total professionalism minus any cop-style attitude. Sure they frisk you--but with courtesy. I caught one guard momentarily shaking his groove thang to J-5 at the foot of the VIP stairwell. He was swept up in the moment and had nothing better to do; the VIP area was empty because at Chocolate Bar, people prefer togetherness.

Maybe because the Chocolate Bar trio have their act so together, many guests at the anniversary revelry polished off the evening at after-party Inshalla, Kjell and Aurelito's downtown art gallery. Just another poetic nighttime journey, brought to you by L.A.'s finest. In a civilized world, people police themselves.

Now, here's what I'd like to see next: I'd like to see Chocolate Bar take it up a notch. They'd scoff at the idea of anchoring Chocolate Bar to the posh Sunset Room in Hollywood, but they could, in a heartbeat. At the very least, they should consider setting up camp at Voodoo for a while. So far, the spacious nightclub's the most user-friendly space in Chocolate Bar's repertoire.

But these three prefer L.A.'s fringes, not because they're not doing things by the book (they already learned that lesson), but because it's where they're most comfortable. You know, the more I think about it, the more it just doesn't matter where they choose to lay their tams. Chocolate Bar always brings it on home.

BE THERE

Chocolate Bar. For weekly location and information, call the hotline at (323) 860-8873. Cover and age limit vary by venue.

Heidi Siegmund Cuda is The Times' Club Buzz columnist and writer-producer of the "Fox Rox" segments on KTTV's 10 p.m. news.

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