The Viper Room is one of those iconic locations that is so quintessentially Angeleno that you can almost smell the history upon entrance. Shit has gone down inside these walls, and you can sense this the moment you enter. Rock ’n’ roll has bled its soul on the floor of this building.  

The Viper Room is somewhat hard to find, a raven black square along the strip amidst the flashing lights and posh stores of Sunset Boulevard. Its relatively obscure location has made it a hot spot for celebrities, with people like Leonardo DiCaprio making recent trips to the Viper.

The main stage is quaint and intimate, but features a sound system that was described by Marketing Director Nathan Levinson as “the best on the Sunset Strip, hands down.” The two-story venue features a downstairs bar that features some highly talented DJs spinning tunes and is well isolated from the chaos upstairs. It is entirely plausible to migrate from ear piercing metal upstairs to soothing electro downstairs.

Every Friday and Saturday, the Viper Room hosts a burlesque night aptly titled “The Pussycat Dolls Lounge,” which was described to me quite frankly as “fucking hot.” The venue is transformed into a burlesque lounge complete with near naked women dancing around in some sort of Moulin Rouge on crack type of way.

“Jack and Coke” were the two words uttered by employee Sarah Berkowitz as I inquired as to the signature beverage of the venue. Drinks mandate the obligatory Sunset Strip premium, but at least they know how to pour something worthwhile. There are drink specials every night of the week to ease the financial sting.

A modest cover charge is required every night except Sunday, a reasonable claim considering all the place has to offer in terms of live music and historical mystique. The staff is top notch; refreshingly devoid of male models serving up wiener martinis. In fact, I was informed that the friendly bartender had just completed a stint on tour playing bass for Scott Weiland.

“You can do pretty much whatever you want here,” Berkowitz proudly declares with a smile.

Friendly staff, stiff drinks and an overwhelming sense of utter rock ’n’ roll make the Viper Room a highly contagious alternative to the typical Hollywood scene. Just don’t overdose like River Phoenix did.  

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