on 09/01/12 at 12:01 pma woman walks into a bar..., Booze News, BoozeBlog
Helllooooo L.A.!!!! Where have you been? More like – where the hell have I been? DAMN. I just ‘discovered’ the most awesome little bar in L.A. – La Cita rocks! Or whatever the prevailing hip hype word is. Hey, you like booze…it’s there. You like rockin’ dancin’ music…it’s there. You like to smoke…it’s there on the patio. You like it down ‘n dirty ‘n REal…it’s there – downtown right beside the Grand Central Market.
My mind in intellectual shell shock – I’d just seen A Separation, the amazing Iranian movie that’s kicking well-deserved ass (and what The Descendants could only wish it had been) – and was in need of some sustenance so I headed down to La Cita for their Sunday Bloody Sunday Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar. Yeah, that’s a mouthful but oh so worth it.
I walk in for the first time. A long, red lit bar to my right, a live band, pulsating music and a dance floor full of passionate dancers to my left – from sunlight to dive bar darkness, whirling lights and seemingly endless Latino men in cowboy hats check me out as I walk the gauntlet, past them to the back patio where THE BLOODY MARY BAR awaits. The difference in clientele is striking. Latinos on the inside, white – hip or otherwise – on the patio.
I’m not there two minutes when Craig – who emphasizes that his name is absolutely not Greg – introduces himself and offers to make my Bloody Mary. I’m uncertain as to how this works so he explains that you order the basic vodka at the bar and then move over to the buffet of ingredients and concoct your Bloody Mary. So, I say, “Sure. Why not.” I order my Mary which comes in a tall glass of ice, filled almost to the top with vodka. Finlandia’s the well booze. “That’s 5 bucks.” And then Craig starts ‘cooking’…a little olive juice, a little onion juice, a splash of, Tapatio hot sauce, Tabasco - ”Whoa, when’s the tomato juice?” Craig doesn’t answer and just keeps adding…a pinch of celery seeds, a scoop of bacon bits (real bacon), a grind of pepper and finally tops it off with tomato juice, like about 1/4″ so the drink is brimming. But wait, Craig spears a couple of hot green beans and two giant olives and rests it across the top of the glass. Apparently I was too late for the shrimp. Wow, now that’s a Bloody Mary. Needless to say it was fabulous.
Craig’s buddy, Casey, joins us…they’ve both moved on to vodka shots and soda. They’ve been here a while. We chat about the bar, who they are, what they do, about Craig’s shaved chest, his pierced tongue with the florescent green pin, “Green’s my favorite color.” He’s ‘freelancing’ at the moment which is a nice way of saying he unemployed, “No, I won’t do everything…“. Casey’s from Mississippi, has a thick Southern drawl, is part Chactaw and is a radiation tech at Kaiser. He tells us about the time he was at a bar on the westside! and a girl accused him of faking the accent to pick up girls. Nutty westsiders. The three of us are now BFF’s – that took about 5 minutes – are schmoozing away when Craig spots someone he thinks he knows. Boy or girl? “Hey, (s)he’s wearing shopping bags for boots! TurnON!” Okay, they’re not shopping bags but we go over to meet Jaymar who’s beard sez ‘male’ but who’s tank top gives you second thoughts. He’s very sweet and introduces us to all of his friends. Time for another Bloody Mary and Craig, my personal bartender, concocts another one, also delicious.
The magnetism of the music and dancers in the main room beckons so I slip away from the white-side and go to the Latino-side. The band’s really good. It’s hard to stand still. Casey appears and we join the dancers, the only whites on the floor which gets us sober stares, but a smile unlocks the divide and they smile back…there’s room for everyone. The couples are locked in bearhugs, the ladies bulging out of their too-tight, dress-up spandex, the men sharp in their pressed Sunday best, taking a breather from the load of everyday work. I envy them. They touch when they dance.
The cultural divide couldn’t be more obvious…the whites stay and smoke and drink on the patio and don’t even venture into the music room. There is no mixing, no dancing, seemingly no curiosity. Under the spinning colored lights, the Latinos dance, drink and socialize and stick close to each other. If language is a barrier, music is a common language so where are the Anglos? Maybe they only know how to dance alone and not with a partner.
Anyway, Casey bails and I still want to dance. Ladies line the wall, sitting alone waiting, hoping for a man to ask them to dance but since we both want to dance, I reach out for Thelma’s hand and, at first she shyly shakes her head but I’m insistent. We hit the floor. I also ask a few other ladies to dance and we both appreciate the connection. I see a man circling our space so I move away so he can hit on one of the ladies. Instead, he wants to dance with me. He’s not shy. He holds me close and whispers he loves me. People move fast here…that was less than 10 seconds! I’m a head taller than Pablo but love doesn’t know height and Pablo gets increasingly amorous. He assures me he’s divorced and knows a good place for us to go. That’s my cue…it’s time to leave. The dance ends and I say adios to a disappointed Pablo, point out all the ladies in waiting and go back to the patio to say good-bye to my new BFF’s. “See ya next time. I WILL be back!”
La Cita Bar
336 S Hill Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013