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Struggling to Get a Footing

Teen dance club at Hollywood & Highland tries way too hard to be hip.


Dim rooms, flashing lights and deafening bass are the marks of every cut-and-paste club in the world. Hollywood's newest night spot has all those but has replaced the requisite obnoxious drunk guys with awkward teenagers.

One Seven, newly opened at the Hollywood & Highland complex, is aching to be the premier destination for 15- to 20-year-olds seeking a weekend groove and grind. The club marches under the banner of Seventeen magazine, a move designed to attach a brand-name familiarity but one that actually stigmatizes it as too commercial and safe to be hip.

And hip is what it's all about. On that litmus test, One Seven comes out neutral.

Though teens with fake IDs may opt for 18- or 21-and-older clubs, One Seven's age cap is a blessing. Creepy old guys who haunt other clubs--men who are exceedingly bad at playing the entertaining yet difficult game "Is she 13 or 30?"--have no hope of being admitted. Sadly, the age cap is one of the club's few advantages.

In its bid to create an exciting and uniquely Hollywood dance club experience, One Seven has avoided any real innovation and stuck to re-creating dance club stereotypes. Some fake-ID-deprived kids starving for loud beats, some lights and a dance floor may be drawn to One Seven's banal just-like-the-movies decor.

Los Angeles Times Wednesday January 16, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 A2 Desk 2 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
One Seven deejay--A review of One Seven, a club in the Hollywood & Highland complex, in the Jan. 3 issue of Calendar Weekend incorrectly identified a deejay. The deejay playing on the second night the club was open to the public was not Chris Monaco, but Brian Cole.

Guided by an "it's new to the young crowd" mantra, the club's look is decorate-by-numbers sleek and posh. Oversized couches, cushions and intimate booths line the walls. The dance floor is expansive and ends before a stage that may occasionally hold a band but most often serves as pedestal to selected dancers. (How the stage's dancers are chosen is unclear, but Y chromosomes are apparently disqualified.) Video spheres above the stage and projection screens flashing unrelated images attempt to add to an unachieved sensory overload. A dizzying light show and a standard issue thump-and-deafen sound system complete the club's physical environment.

Despite considerable effort, One Seven's atmosphere has a hard time making the leap from decorating the walls to enveloping its visitors. One week after a celebrity-draped opening, the club's dance floor was half-empty during prime clubbing hours. The scene wasn't pretty.

Girls in standard-issue weekend uniforms of capri pants and navel-baring tops danced while mouthing words to the latest Top 40 hits to their girlfriends. Meanwhile, pleasantly outnumbered but still nervous boys perched on all available surfaces and watched. Granted, this was its second night open to the public and the management is still experimenting with different DJs and ideas, but word-of-mouth from fickle teens may not give One Seven much time to get things right.

Some advice: What gets feet tapping while watching MTV doesn't get things shaking on the floor. Club crowds demand nonstop bounce in their beats. Though the opening party's DJ A.M. kept the floor rollicking with mixes of classic party rock standards and modern pop smashes, the next Friday's DJ Chris Monaco slowed things down too often. Teenage clubgoers looking to get sweaty were subjected to high school dance style slow numbers. Daft Punk and Britney Spears, however tired their records may be, are more likely to incite hip movement than Sixpence None the Richer.

Though crowd members rolled eyes at some music choices ("Hey Mickey"? Are you kidding?), their major source of discontent was the high admission price.

Although it is understood that One Seven will not enjoy the alcohol sales that propel 21-and-over establishments, a $20 cover charge and no parking validation is anathema to cash-strapped teens. The cost is especially punishing if the DJ quality remains unpredictable.

One Seven promises a safe environment, but the results are uneven and often stuffy. ID checks, dress codes and metal scanners suggest security. But inside, kids find a bothersome, troublesome security staff. Unspecific rules of conduct allow for selective enforcement.

Security guards kept closer watch on some groups than others and arbitrarily warned some circles about "inappropriate dancing" for moves that haven't been close to dirty since Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze.

One Seven--and the whole Hollywood & Highland complex--are promoting an image of Hollywood glamour. The club claims talent scouts are on the prowl here, and the tales of starlet discovery are engraved on the complex's tile floors. Here, they are suggesting, even the as-yet-undiscovered can revel in the same hyper-cool hot spots as the stars. As attractive as visitors might find that idea, One Seven has not gone beyond approximating the look of cool to make sure a top-rate dance club is still standing when the hype clears.

One Seven, Hollywood & Highland, 6801 Hollywood Blvd. Open Friday and Saturday and before school holidays, from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. $20 cover. (323) 461-1517.

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