Photograph courtesy of flickr/ZagatBuzz
If you think that the archetypal gin-soaked love shack, with its dance floor virtuosos who could make a nun faint, is relegated to the South, you’ve never been to Harvelle’s (1432 4th St., Santa Monica, 310-395-1676). Since 1931, this modest storefront has been shaking things up in Santa Monica. Beyond the cursive neon sign outside is a narrow room that leads to a checkered floor and a small stage in back. More than a space for playing, it’s a refuge for the endangered species of soul, blues, and Otis Redding-style R&B (no R. Kelly here). Low red lights set the mood at the shotgun bar, where you can nurse a beer, flanked by two vintage picture mirrors of socialites sipping champagne in a perpetual New Year’s Eve. As the band starts riffing, the crowds swell and things get hot and they get close. Some days that’s how we like it.