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NIGHTLIFE

A rendezvous for members only

June 05, 2008|Charlie Amter
  • French Tuesdays are held every two weeks in a different location.
French Tuesdays are held every two weeks in a different location. (Sabina Bonvillain Photography )

In LOS ANGELES, having the right kind of dress shoes and jacket is usually more of a prerequisite for gaining entry into a country club than a nightclub.

Yet some barely made it past the doorman at Hollywood supper club Ritual last month -- on a Tuesday at 8 p.m., no less -- to attend a roving bimonthly members-only club called French Tuesdays.

"It's a very strict dress code," says French Tuesdays co-founder Gilles Amsallem. "Even though I love jeans and T-shirts, I think every once in a while it's nice for women to feel comfortable because they are surrounded with men who have a certain style," he continues.

The 40-year-old Paris-born Amsallem started French Tuesdays with Pierre Battu in New York five years ago as a way to bring French expats in Manhattan together with U.S. citizens.

The evenings consisted of financial types nibbling on hors d'oeuvres and sipping Moet, trading business cards and eventually dancing and flirting until the early morning hours.

Today, the club has more than 9,000 members in N.Y., Miami, San Francisco and L.A. (and is looking to expand to Chicago and Las Vegas). Parties in L.A. regularly exceed 800 per event, despite the dressed-up requirement.

"A dress code really helps us attract professionals and an international crowd," explains Amsallem. "Our people who used to live in Paris or London, they are used to dressing that way . . . and it's a nice way to bring that sophistication to L.A., where all too often that element is missing."

Last month at Ritual, a sophisticated, well-heeled crowd mixed and mingled to a house music soundtrack heavy on artists like France's Bob Sinclar.

While the secret of French Tuesdays' success can partially be attributed to Amsallem's predisposition to bring people together, a bigger factor may be the exclusive nature of the gatherings: "It's a very select group of people," he says.

So who makes the cut? "At the beginning it's from word of mouth and recommendation from existing members." And while membership is technically closed in L.A. (more than 2,500 members are on the mailing list), Amsallem says it is still possible to gain entry into the exclusive group.

"Every six months we do what we call a 'recruiting session,' " he says. "Usually around 100 new members are added every six months, but the only way to get in is through an existing member [most members have profiles online] who sponsors you."

If that doesn't sound promising, just remember that access to French Tuesdays -- which has no yearly fees -- is still a lot easier than joining other members clubs, like Cedd Moses' Doheny downtown, which, in addition to a recommendation, requires annual dues of more than $2,000.

Frankfurt-born consultant Thomas Scherzberg said he wouldn't pay the membership for the Doheny, but would gladly pay a small fee to continue on with French Tuesdays if needed.

"I really like how it's at a different place every time," he said at last month's Ritual event. "I like that the women are dressed up and I always meet interesting people." Salut.

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-- Charlie.Amter@latimes.com

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FRENCH TUESDAYS

WHERE: Different venues every two weeks -- next event is Tuesday at the Beverly Hilton's Circa 55 restaurant and pool area.

WHEN: Tuesdays

PRICE: Free for members

INFO: www.frenchtuesdays.com

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