Getty Images; E! Illustration
Getty Images; E! Illustration
It's a Tuesday night, or maybe a Wednesday, in 2006 or 2007 or maybe even 2009. The date doesn't really matter. What does matter is that if you happened to be in Los Angeles, at a very specific intersection on Las Palmas Avenue just south of Hollywood Boulevard, you were suddenly at the epicenter of young celebrity culture.
You're standing outside Les Deux, just steps away from where the A-list set of actors, models and whatever else they're identifying as currently (DJs? Reality stars?) are partying their youthful, beautiful, tanned lives away. Or maybe you're a couple miles west, on the heart of Sunset Boulevard, outside the pulsing lights of Hyde nightclub. You may not be able to see inside, past the velvet ropes, but the best of the gossip will be splashed across the Internet the next morning anyways.
To be young in Hollywood in the mid-to-late 2000s was, often, to find yourself out at impossibly late hours. The club scene was a hallmark of that era that only be fully described as a heyday. It was a moment, a trend, a thing in every sense of that frustratingly vague word. As Nicole Richie described it in her 2005 book The Truth About Diamonds, "The nightclubs of LA are like soap operas. There's always some bizarre drama that plays out every single night, and everyone in the cast—I mean, everyone—is great looking."
The action (almost) always went down on weeknights, which were considered "celebrity nights" at the hottest locales. That's because, to put it bluntly, stars (or aspiring stars) are the only ones who can manage to go out drinking and dancing until 4 a.m. on what would normally be a work night. It also allowed the young, rich, famous set to avoid the relative nobodies who frequented Hollywood nightlife on the weekends.
There was a group of major players who, give or take a few here and there, were guaranteed to be out. During that golden era of the aughts, it was the Lindsay Lohans and the Paris Hiltons that ruled. But also, the Nicole Richies, the Mischa Bartons, the Orlando Blooms, the Hilary Duffs, the Mischa Bartons, the Lauren Conrads.
And there were, of course, a few very select locations where the debauchery went down. Like Les Deux, in Hollywood proper, which was one of the most popular. Everyone who was everyone partied here, and it became notorious outside of Hollywood thanks to its very savvy product placement on The Hills, and also that very unfortunate scene in which a visibly inebriated Conrad yelled to Heidi Montag "You know what you did!"
Or Guy's Bar, in West Hollywood, which was the site of the now-legendary outing by Hilton, Lohan and one Britney Spears. They all arrived together in an SUV, one of them forgot their underwear, and the tabloids were never the same.
Or Teddy's, in the Roosevelt Hotel. Orlando Bloomheld his 30th birthday party there in 2007, and, according to Vanity Fair, Lohan and Duff buried the hatchet in their feud over mutual ex Aaron Carter in the bathroom, after Duff saw her other ex Joel Madden arrive with Richie. They were also famously fined for allowing patrons under 21 inside, but why that club specifically was targeted is still a mystery.
There were probably people who knew at the time what a Trend (capital T intended) was in their midst, but if so they weren't talking about it. It takes hindsight to look back and think, inarticulate as it may be, holy crap, there was really nothing like the Young Hollywood club scene in 2007. It dominated the news cycle. Going to the grocery store checkout meant being inundated with pictures of A-listers walking to their cars at ungodly hours, illuminated only by flashbulbs. Sure, there was other celebrity news happening at the time—Brad Pittand Jennifer Anistonwere going through a divorce, for Pete's sake—but it didn't always feel like it.
More importantly, it was the birth of the tabloid digital era, and the birth of our obsession with the private lives of complete strangers. Facebook sprung onto the world in 2004, after all, the same year that Perez Hilton started his blog. Suddenly readers anywhere in the country could log online (this was back in the pre-iPhone days when you still needed to log on) and find out everything that happened in Hollywood the night before, complete with photographic evidence.
Celebrities quickly learned that to up their profile, all they needed to do was be caught by the paparazzi—and the easiest place to do that was on Hollywood Boulevard (or Sunset, or Las Palmas). Would the world of pop culture been so fascinated with Lindsay Lohan if it hadn't been for her many dalliances with her many young, famous, rich friends at the many fancy clubs? After 2004's Mean Girls, she didn't really have a true hit for the rest of the decade. And Paris Hilton, her IMDb credits nearly blank except for The Simple Life, was fully buoyed by her presence on the front page. The stars of The O.C. would have been in the spotlight anyways, but there they were being pursued with the same vigor as Jen and Brad. A career boost and free parties? What's not to love?
But cut to 2017, and A-listers no longer have to rely on a sighting to stay in the news cycle; they can give us pre-selected tidbits on Instagram whenever they want. They can tease out personal information, knowing we'll collectively gobble it up. Rachel Bilson doesn't need to endure the bottle service hangover to stay relevant when she can post a photo of her toddler daughter's shoes and be the subject of thousands of Google alerts. Why risk it at the clubs now? Little by little, that heyday of the mid-aughts began to erode and the hotspots began to close up shop.
We suppose it was kind of inevitable. After all, the stars started to grow up. Some settled down, some started families, some simply realized that a cycle of nightclub scandal to rehab and back wasn't sustainable. There were arrests, there were catfights, there was bad publicity, and there was, perhaps most upsetting of all to the stars themselves, burglaries. The Bling Ring began to strike the likes of Rachel and Lindsay and Paris and Orlando, and it always went down while they were out clubbing. (The members of the Ring even later admitted to Vanity Fair that they checked gossip sites and paparazzi photos to find out when their victims were gone.)
But also, nothing can stay hot forever. Sylvain Bitton, one of the former owners of Les Deux, once told LA Weekly that the average shelf life of a club in LA is about five to ten months. People (famous people) stopped coming and the clubs began to shutter. Les Deux went under in the summer of 2010, but not before attempting a stint as a gastropub. Guy's Bar closed, then became a spot called Hooray Henry's, which is now Peppermint Club—it was, somewhat ironically, the recent venue for Tobey Maguire's ex-wife's 40th birthday party (read: Very much not a place for the early-20's set). Hyde took a few years off and then popped back up a few blocks west from the original, but it is rarely the subject of headlines. And Teddy's is still kicking, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a famous face among the crowd.
So what now?
Sure, there will always be Hollywood hotspots. Currently, the stars congregate at the likes of Catch and The Nice Guy and Delilah. But they're not quite clubs in the same way they used to be. They're restaurants where you can also drink, or they're bars that absolutely don't require a minimum buy-in to enter. You won't find scantily clad bottle girls hawking liters of Skyy Vodka, and you certainly won't see any bold-faced names fighting or falling.
There isn't even really a core group of clubbers. Young Hollywood has dispersed, to admittedly great effect. There's no constant crew of night owls, no one starlet you can be guaranteed to see if you wait in the bathroom long enough. The stars go out when they feel like it, but no one is a regular the way Lindsay and Paris and their ilk were.
Kendall and Gigi like The Nice Guy, Miley frequents Nobu, and Selena Gomez can never seem to say no to Giorgio Baldi. When a new hotspot opens, like the aforementioned Catch or the currently brand new Beauty & Essex, A-listers will show up in droves, but they're well-behaved and frequently won't be back. You're more likely to have a star sighting if you set up camp in front of Alfred Coffee on a warm afternoon.
Young Hollywood is better behaved today, to be certain, but they've also wised up to paparazzi culture and learned to be more discreet with their dalliances. Kids will be kids, but we're not privy the way that we used to be. Many choose to host their hangouts at home. If you party in the safety of your own space, in the discreetness of your own friends, you can avoid the tabloids altogether. Take it from Miley Cyrus, who once famously counseled Justin Bieber to simply "put a club in his house" to avoid legal mishaps.
Maybe it's a byproduct of the constant deluge of attention that the young A-list gets today (if only the mid-aughts generation knew what they were in for), but many relish time away from the glare of flash bulbs and disco balls. Jennifer Lawrence, who is arguably the brightest star of what we'll affectionately call The Youths, is a self-described homebody. She famously told Harper's Bazaar last spring, "I don't really stay out late. I'm kind of a bummer. I'm a nana. It's hard to get me out, and when I do go out I don't really stay out late. If I do stay out late and I'm partying hard, I will throw up. I don't have the tolerance to black out; I just start puking."
All of this puts the club scene firmly in the realm of the relics. A bygone era that those of us who are old enough to remember can look back on. So what are we to do when we feel the nostalgic pull for the Les Deux of the world? Put on reruns of The Hills, of course.