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Sorry, Spotsters, but your cover is blown

January 04, 2007|Charlie Amter | Special to The Times

WHILE downtown has plenty of nightspots to entertain its growing legion of hipsters, not one new bar has the intimacy and soul of what clued-in urbanities simply call "The Spot."

The rental location has been open for a few years now, but you'd hardly know it from walking down the desolate stretch of South Main Street where the unique space is located.

The entrance to the subterranean hideaway is tucked beneath a staircase, and the owners, and patrons in the know, like it that way. "Please don't write about this place ... it's my favorite place to go in L.A.," one woman begged on a recent Thursday night.

But the cat has long been out of the bag for the Spot.

Members of Queens of the Stone Age are fond of the Oriental-themed room after Detour music festival organizers rented out the space for a VIP after-party in October, and Nelly Furtado filmed her video for "Promiscuous Girl" at the 1920s-inspired room. Even Prince stopped by earlier this year -- apparently taken with the vibe.

The Spot is not a bar, and subsequently, does not have regular hours, or even a phone number to list. You won't find it on Citysearch and, it's fair to say, tourists will never find the off-the-grid space. Typically events happen later in the week, and many events are password-protected, meaning you have to know someone to get in. Or someone who knows someone. This, of course, only adds to the allure.

"I come here because I always meet interesting people who do all kinds of things," says Adam Leemon, 37, the former Dolce sommelier, who says he has been coming to the Spot for years, even before its current hosts, Martha and John Higgins, took over the rental space. On a recent Thursday, Leemon socialized with like-minded thirtysomethings, who looked every bit the proverbial "art crowd."

But the Spot is not the exclusive domain of art types. In fact, recently the Spot has made inroads with a younger crowd, many from Orange County, looking for an authentic city experience. On a recent Friday, a party called "Hotwire My Heart" featured DJs spinning trendy electronica.

Underground fashion scenesters are also devotees. The Bohemian Society recently hosted a runway show at the South Main Street basement, and boutique store owners such as Apartment 3's Kristin Knauff can't get enough of the Spot's intimate vibe. "I like this place because it's one of the last places that is not taken over by one particular scene," Knauff says.

Although the space itself is unremarkable -- the furniture tends toward thrift-store -- there is something about the energy of the space that makes people feel comfortable and keeps them coming back. The tight fits and multiple nooks and crannies force conversation, and people at the Spot are actually inclined to strike one up, in contrast to some of the newer bars in the area.


The Spot

Where: 244 S. Main St., L.A.

Info: Days and hours of events vary; no phone.

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