Haute Cirque

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Driving down Hollywood Boulevard on New Years Eve was like navigating the Las Vegas Strip. Bumper-to-bumper cars and cabs. Hundreds of revelers walking in the streets. It was 10 p.m. but it looked more like daytime—each store, restaurant, and club lit up. We passed girls in sequined dresses and guys in blazers shivering in long lines outside East, Katsuya, and the Roosevelt. I thought of the line that I’d encounter at H.wood, where I was headed, and regretted getting out of my PJs and leaving my fireplace behind. At least I brought a coat.

Miraculously, entering H.wood—a multi-level club on North Orange off Hollywood Boulevard—was simple and wait-free. I quickly picked my tickets at will call and was ushered into the venue by pleasant doormen who wished me a happy new year. Everyone was dressed to the nines—some girls even donned festive feathered headpieces that I later found out were being sold inside. Others stuck with traditional cardboard top hats and silver foil crowns.

Things were rowdier upstairs. Top 40 hits—plenty of Lady Gaga and Rihanna—blasted from large speakers as hundreds of people crowded the dance floor. It was easy enough to get drinks (thanks to the club’s four bars), and they were delicious, and strong. I didn’t see any tray-passed appetizers—advertised along with the open bar to be included in the $100 presale admission price—but I was happy to indulge in a large glazed doughnut I plucked from a platter set next to a table on the edge of the dance floor. I guess bottle service has its perks.

What set the night apart was Lucent Dossier Experience, a burlesque-type circus troop that paraded through the club. Though the troop recently ended their artist residency at H.wood, they were back on New Years Eve to lend an air of festivity to the already-festive evening—and they did. Male and female cirque members danced widely on tabletops, looking like they stumbled out of 1910. Others smiled down on the party from stilts.

In the end, the traditional champagne toast at midnight was a wonderful—if messy—beginning to 2010. But I was more than happy to ditch my heels for my PJs and fireplace hours later—and didn’t leave them for all of New Years Day. 

Photograph by Mila Reynaud