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In a town brimming with trendy nightspots that promise to be different and stand apart from the rest, it's a rare pleasure when one actually does. La Descarga, which opened its doors back in February , is one of the few that has lived up to its promise. Wedged between a taco stand and some other nondescript business on Western, an uninformed passerby from the street would never know that inside the big windowless box with nothing but a neon sign to indicate the venue, is L.A.'s hottest rum bar.
After meeting the bar's dress code (yes, a strict dress code!) and the approval of the stylish British doorman, he will give you instructions to go inside and up the stairs where a hostess can help direct you to your party. You might be a little confused once you reach her, seated at a desk in a well-lit room that looks like a secretary's office or waiting room. Once you tell her you're there to meet so-and-so, she'll open up a little closet door with coats hanging inside and tell you to walk through. Like something out of Narnia, you'll step through the closet into L.A.'s happening nightspot.
Once you make your way inside you'll discover La Descarga is a Cuban-themed rum bar with mixologists trained in whipping up the best rum cocktails in town. As you walk down the stairs you'll end up in the main room with tables, a live band, a full bar and lots of dancing. A little deeper into the space takes you to a back cigar patio with a bar serving strictly rum drinks and tables with chess sets.
But don't even think about casually trying this place in your usual burnout, vans, and ripped jeans. The club enforces the following dress code and has no qualms about turning anybody away who does not meet their specifications:
"We enforce a strict dress code at all times. Inappropriate items include t-shirts, polo shirts, flannel shirts, hoodies, baggy clothing of any sort, sneakers, sandals, baseball hats, and beanies. Jackets for men and sophisticated evening wear for women are encouraged. Please make sure all guests in your party are aware of the dress code as they will not be admitted under any circumstances dressed inappropriately"
When asked about the dress code, La Descarga's GM Steve Livigni will tell you in a very matter-of-fact manner that "adults should dress up and look nice." No argument here. It's refreshing to have a place in this town with some standards. Ladies, this goes for you too and Steve says dresses are a must. "But what about shorts for girls? Nice shorts, though, not cutoffs." With a raised eyebrow "...with heels?" "Sure, yeah, with heels." "Mmmalright... I guess nice shorts with heels is fine."
There are exceptions to every rule, but ladies, if you're unsure whether your shorts meet the "sophisticated evening wear" description, play it safe and just wear a dress. A night at La Descarga is not one suited for fashion risks that could get you and your party denied at the door.