FOR A sizable swath of Los Angeles media types, going to a club is so 2005.
The chic crowd would rather attend an event at a temporary space that feels more like a gallery. Beverage companies and lifestyle marketers have played to that audience, marrying their brands to sleek nights with slick music. And now Microsoft is upping the ante.
Perhaps forced into creative marketing by Apple's iPod, Microsoft's rival Zune player is jumping into the nightlife fray by launching a space that is carrying the product's name. The Seattle-area company is in it for the long haul, having signed a three-year lease at a venue on Beverly Boulevard.
Zune L.A., formerly photographer Greg Gorman's studio, serves as an office for a handful of the Microsoft music player's employees during the day, but, after dark at events such as last month's opening soiree, the tri-level space offers the company the opportunity to court L.A.'s tastemakers.
Chris Stephenson, Zune's general manager of global marketing, calls the space "a clubhouse for the creative community in L.A. -- a place for people to gather and connect that's designed for creative expression."
That expression, of course, takes on a different tone in the nightlife scene. At the christening, Zune wooed all manner of movers and shakers in the art, music and event-planning world with mojitos, music and visuals. Eastside promoter and Temporary Spaces founder Sean Patrick DJ'd (plugged into a Zune player, naturally) across from a custom light installation (an "interactive chandelier") from noted London-based artist Moritz Waldemeyer.
The space shares more in common with gallery/restaurant hybrids like the newly opened Royal-T in Culver City in that it is bright, airy and invites conversation, in contrast to the typical club where shop talk is barely audible. It features a rooftop patio, DJ booth and circular soundproofed music room suitable for hosting bands.
Jamaal Layne, project manager for Zune L.A., likens the experience of entering the space to "walking into an actual Zune."
Zune L.A. has hosted private events for groups such as CAA, and for now its offerings will remain invitation-only. Musicians such as Janelle Monae and former Black Crowes guitarist Marc Ford have already performed at Zune L.A., and former Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker will launch his line of New Era hats this month.
Its next event, on Tuesday, is a screening of "Joy Division: The Documentary" (followed by a 90-minute DJ set from Joy Division bass player Peter Hook).
Says Stephenson: "We envision Zune L.A. as a cultural hub."
So why is Microsoft debuting this concept in L.A., and not in Seattle or New York?
"We wanted to pick somewhere where we could not only feed off the cultural energy of the city but collaborate with the creative community to add to it," he says. "L.A. had the right mix of entertainment gravitas and growing cultural relevance within art and design."
WHERE: 8275 Beverly Blvd. (at Sweetzer), L.A.
WHEN: Multiple private events monthly; next event is Tuesday featuring Peter Hook
PRICE: Invitation only
INFO: (323) 944-0702