Los Angeles 1999 - City of Angels

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It was a choice between another trip to Ibiza or this cheap last minute flight to LA. Its a long flight (11 hours) but when your also lucky enough to get a free upgrade to Business Class the time soon "flies" by. My visit was in September 1999 with my friend Steve. What a great place it is, so much to see and do...

A Spanish guy founded the city in 1781 calling it "The village of our Lady, Queen of Angels". Its region is now populated by over 15 million and has become the second largest city of America. There are actually some 88 different cities and communities within the Los Angeles county area, with a rich and diverse mix in culture and population.

This piece of California is the entertainment capital of the world and accordingly has a never-ending supply of visitors wide-eyed at the prospect of perhaps meeting the rich and famous. In Beverly Hills check out the homes of the celebrities or join the Hollywood Walk of Fame and see the 2,000 stars of the city's illustrious inhabitants embedded in the pavement.

There are six major theme parks: Disney Land being one of the biggest, try out the Indiana Jones ride and "Honey I shrunk the Audience" for a chance to wear these fab glasses! Then there's Universal Studio's Hollywood its newest ride is Terminator 2...3D and wow it's good. The Jurassic Park adventure and Back To The Future ride are both fantastic too. Also a must is the tram tour taking you behind-the-scenes, visiting the sets of the big name movies and TV shows. After all 75% of all films are made in Hollywood now. If you're a dedicated theme park freak then check out Six Flags, Knotts Berry Farm and Warner Bros. Studios.

If you like concerts then book some tickets to the Hollywood Bowl. It's a natural outdoor arena set in the Hollywood hills, catering for 18,000 people. A sell-out show is held every night of the summer providing a fantastic atmosphere with the likes of classical, pop or jazz music, depending on the day of the week. Only 3 shows have ever been cancelled in the past 50 years due to rain. LA boasts lovely hot, dry weather, 15 inches seems a lot to us gay boys but in terms of rain it's very little over a year.

Gay life is plentiful and dotted all around LA but mainly centred in West Hollywood (WeHo), a city in it's self. On Santa Monica Boulevard is a stretch of road that's home an array of pubs, clubs, cafes and shops all thriving with that great American homo vibe. It's LA's gay village...

Micky's (8857 Santa Monica Blvd.), a video and dance bar, draws a high-energy, younger crowd. Go-go boys strut here most nights of the week, and the beer prices are fairly cheap making for much guzzling.

Rage (8911Santa Monica Blvd.) is a bi-level restaurant, daytime bar, and nightclub. It's the best place to party through out the week with good chart/dance music and regular entertainment. The venue is not overly large but it can get very busy and always supplies plenty of talent.

At the weekend Circus (6655 Santa Monica Blvd.) attracts the muscle boys, flooding the venue with sexy, tanned, pumped-up physiques. It's massive converted warehouse set-up holds 3 dance floors giving a choice of either Latino, Cheesy or hard techno music from some of the best DJ's around. It's called Arena on a Saturday night and is with no doubt the best place to party.

As with England, most venues close at 2am but there is several after-hours clubs like Avalon (1735 Vine Street) with it's night called Spin. It starts at 3am playing high-NRg tunes through till 9am Sunday. The newly refurbished Icon (836 North Highland Avenue) is another circuit party Saturday nighter that goes through till 8am the following morning. It again will blow your mind with the music and talent on offer.

LA's oldest bar, Spike (7746 Santa Monica Blvd.), is on the outer edge of the gay village in an area that could well be nicknamed "Daddy Land" because of the butch crowd it attracts. This levi-and leather cruise bar is more of an after hours venue if you haven't pulled your shag for the night or are after a bit of S&M action! It's a very small venue yet open 7 nights a week till the very early hours.

If you like this rougher scene then try The Gauntlet II (4219 Santa Monica Blvd.). It holds strict underwear only parties every Thursday "Lose Those Levi's" and offers happy hour prices to all punters in underwear, other nights of the week. So don't go forgetting your jockstrap!

If after all this you can get out of bed in the daylight hours then there is some serious shopping opportunities to take advantage of. The closest mall to the gay village is The Beverly Center (8500 Beverley Blvd.) providing you with a whole array of fashion and food stores to mince round. It's also home to two of America's most popular department stores Macy's and Bloomingdales. An alternative to this and almost twice the size is the Glendale Galleria located in the San Fernando Valley.

If you're after wackier, weird, funky garments then head for what is known as the Melrose fashion strip (Melrose Avenue/Gardener Street). The gay village is also a good location to pick up some of America's more hip homo designs to help show off that homosexual fashion sense.

If you fancy a work out, or at least an excuse to get into the locker room then there are many to choose from. The main gay colonised one being slap-bang in the gay village called 24 hour Fitness & Sport. It's got a large selection of machines and free-weights as well as an out door swimming pool. The sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi are, as you'd expect.... full of action. If muscle building is particularly your thing then visit Venice Beach. It's one of the actual sets used in Baywatch, plenty of hunks in trunks and sexy surfers. Here you have a massive Gold's Gym, which is very gay friendly or try the Muscle Beach Gym on the front and work out in the open air.

For accommodation try the exclusively gay B&B in the thick of the village, San Vicente Inn Resort (845 North San Vicente). It offers deluxe cosy cottage suits around a pool area with a clothing-optional redwood sun deck and jacuzzi. Le Montrose Suite Hotel (900 Hammond Street) is a European-style hotel also in the core of WeHo, close to the action and far from the ordinary. It offers a pool, sun deck, tennis court and small gym. West Hollywood Ramada (8585 Santa Monica Boulevard) is another good choice close to many of the hot spots. The amenities include several fine restaurants and an outdoor heated pool. If you're on a budget contact the no-frills, Holloway Motel (8465 Santa Monica Blvd.). Studios and rooms are available for $85 (£53) and under, inclusive of city tax. This also includes cable TV, breakfast and free parking.

Overall LA has something for everyone; Pride (Mid July) is a busy time to visit if you like action as is Labour Day in early September. Long Beach and the San Fernando Valley are also good gay hot spots with much to see and do. The free Gay press is readily available in most venues and holds the best information to plan out your stay. Here are a few useful Internet sights for further information and travel advice: