R.I.P., Sea Level Records. This esteemed music shop didn’t just temporarily close its doors in June 2007, but bolted them shut for good. Created in 2001 by Todd Clifford, Sea Level became ground zero for eastsiders with a serious love of rare finds and underground bands.

Sea Level also hosted parties for various Los Angeles-based artists and opened its doors to the annual Fuck Yeah Music Festival. In the grand tradition of Coachella and San Diego’s Indie Music Fest, Fuck Yeah thumbs its nose at MTV and her shiny overproduced videos by focusing its attention on the bands you might not know about.

2006 saw a particularly exciting lineup: the Thermals and Dios Malos were among the celebrated performers. Even musicians like Rage Against the Machine’s Zach de la Rocha came out to support this gathering. 2007 proved just as thrilling: scheduled acts included L.A.’s own, Great Northern as well as riot grrl pioneer Allison Wolfe’s new band, Partyline.

But FY’s not for the faint of heart; with so many bands playing here within the tiny community of Echo Park, prepare to do some walking. Shows are known to take place in numerous locations like the Echo. This venue sits on a dimly lit block and at first glance may instill more fear in would-be clubgoers than enthusiasm. However, once inside, patrons are treated to gorgeous mirrored and mahogany retro-glam architecture. Sure, the Echo doesn’t offer the same high tech sex appeal of some of its newer counterparts, but hey – you’re in Echo Park, not Hollywood.

The acts that flock to these four walls are the best of the past, present and future. Old school riot grrl group Team Dresch as well as the Amish-monikered stylings of Rumspringa have been popular favorites on this stage.

The Echo also has a strong foothold on another L.A. pastime: dancing. It hosts a wealth of dance parties throughout the week that feature everything from dub to electroclash to neo-soul. But as great as the Echo is, it does have some stiff competition. Just down the road on Sunset is the legendary Short Stop. This dive bar (the baby of Twilight Singers frontman Greg Dulli) has been going strong for years now.

Neighborhood locals flock to it for cold beers, a friendly game of pool and the best in 21-and-over fun. On any given night, the girls here look like they’ve stepped off the pages of Nylon and the guys are not too shabby either.

But back to the dance floor. Made famous by DJ Jason Mason, the Short Stop has fostered a number of stellar turntablists and shows no signs of stopping. Step through the door and prepare to shake your booty to classic songs by Prince and Michael Jackson as well as newer ear candy from Brazilian Girls and Fujiya & Miyagi.

You may have to stand in line, though. Pretension has sadly migrated east resulting in the owners creating the same pointless doorman snobbery found at spots like LAX and Area. If you wind up waiting to kick it at the Short Stop, do yourself a favor and head down the street to Little Joy Cocktail Lounge. This watering hole has been called “the hookup capital of Echo Park.”

So, you know where to hang out in Echo Park, but what does one do after working up a huge hunger from all that physical activity? Eat at the Brite Spot.

Make no mistakes: this isn’t four star cuisine by any stretch of the imagination. But the diner food here is priced well and served by quirky looking waitstaff who use Flowbees to perfect their pageboys and mullets.

The Brite Stop is a haven for starving artists, indie/emo kids and everyone in between. Occasionally, celebrities even make their way into this well-known establishment. Just this June, “The Office’s” Mindy Kaling was spotted there.

The most beautiful aspect of the neighborhood is the park it’s named after. Located across the street from the Brite Spot, Echo Park is best known for its imposing fountain.

Its reputation was marred by drug-laden activity just a few years ago, but the park is now (for the most part) a clean, family-friendly stop. It’s nice for a romantic walk or to watch passersby. And if you dare, it’s a great place to get a snap dog – heavy on the onions and peppers.

Echo Park will cast a spell over newcomers while continuing to inspire its longtime friends and lovers. Just ask any of the locals.