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NIGHTLIFE : OPENINGS

Eden for celebs -- and a camel

January 14, 2011|Margaret Wappler

At the grand opening of Eden on Friday night, Tony Daly and David Judaken's new celebrity-magnet club, it was hard to say what was attracting the most attention. The tragically estranged Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens in one corner, stealing a kiss? Paris Hilton, the patron saint of Hollywood, in black and blond? Or was it another creature with long legs and curly eyelashes?

The owners are betting on the tall, tan ungulate, which made its debut around 1:45 a.m.

"I never knew so many people were camel fans," Judaken said. "Every single head was focused on one spot. We played the 'Star Wars' theme and opened the sliding glass doors at a very slow pace."

The live camel wasn't the only wild animal on hand. In addition to some monkeys assisting the cocktail waitresses and some serpentine dancers, there was the usual untamed garden of Los Angeles clubgoers: owl-eyed models in fedoras, skinny faux-ballerinas who could outfox Mila Kunis in "Black Swan," and herds of guys watering themselves with vodka.

For Judaken and Daly, Eden is a throwback to the classic clubs they've been opening as the Syndicate Hospitality Group for the last decade or so. The original Garden of Eden (now morphed into My House) has been going strong since the late '90s, before the days of the ubiquitous Facebook invite and other tools of the trade that Judaken and Daly find a bit unseemly.

"We want our outreach to be a bit more personal," Daly said, adding that the club's promoters will often invite patrons individually, especially the kind who can get the pens at US Weekly furiously scribbling. "We'll be catering to the tastemakers and celebrities who have helped make L.A. the epicenter for nightclub culture and celebrity sightings."

With its low lighting and intimate atmosphere done up in sleek and woodsy tones, Eden is designed to encourage seemingly private bouts of ecstasy or sin -- but with its booths and tiered flooring, it's not the easiest room to swim through when at capacity (that would be around 400). Only open on Friday nights for now (but soon to expand to Saturdays and Wednesdays), Eden is obviously cultivating a supremely rarified aesthetic -- the clipped and groomed show poodle in the dog-eat-dog world of Hollywood nightlife. Only time will tell if it's all bark and no bite.

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margaret.wappler@latimes.com

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