We were pushed into the dimly lit bedroom; “Welcome,” pronounced a lady lounging on the bed in lingerie, “There are a few rules here: no photography, no name-dropping and no neon drinks. Have fun.” We barely had time to recover before the bed slid back to reveal a staircase.
This was our first experience of one of the Houston Brothers’ bars, No Vacancy, a 1920s-style speakeasy in an old Victorian house in Hollywood. Waiters serve punch bowls rather than bottles to guests settled into red velvet loungers or sitting at wrought-iron tables in the vine-covered courtyard outside. A DJ spins a great selection of oldies for the mass of bodies on the dance floor, who will only stop to watch the burlesque performers or the tightrope walkers precariously tiptoeing above them.
Seven hours later we were back in the club interviewing the business partners, who have so far opened a total of six bars and one restaurant, with new projects at The Line Hotel in Koreatown and one in Austin also on the horizon. We wanted to hear more about the concept behind their speakeasy enterprises – all of which are completely different, with each entrance proving even more interesting than the last. Most importantly, we wanted to find out more about their role in giving the L.A. nightlife scene a much-needed revamp...
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words: Serena Guen // photos: Olivia Seally