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One year after the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969, the crux of the modern fight for LGBT rights, New York and San Francisco commemorated that early morning police raid and its violent aftermath with a day of protests, demonstrations, and political rallies. Los Angeles—knowing the power of an A-list event even then—decided to throw a parade.
What began as a milestone with a message here in Los Angeles has since become a beacon for individuals the world over; gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and their trans brethren are beckoned to L.A.—a city typified by entertainment and an air of exclusivity—to celebrate the LGBT community’s achievements in signature SoCal style, this year the weekend of June 12–14.
“Well, we can always count on the weather,” says David Cooley, founder of The Abbey, two-time winner of MTV’s “Best Gay Bar in the World” award. “I don’t ever remember it raining on Pride. L.A. is one of the best cities in the world for a daytime party. Not only do we have the sexiest men and women here, but we have the Hollywood aspect. You never know which celebrities will pop up to show their support.”
While some destinations around the globe may throw larger and more ostentatious Pride fêtes than Los Angeles, you’d be hard-pressed to find a city with more upscale options and finer taste than the home of the gays who hold the entertainment industry afloat.
Balcony Bottle Service at The Abbey
Since its takeover by famed hospitality group SBE in 2006, The Abbey wasted no time in shedding its coffee house roots of the early '90s in favor of pulsating pop tracks, gyrating go-go dancers, and well-documented appearances by celebrities, both gay and straight.
Even more than the attractive cross-section of Los Angeles found inside, The Abbey’s draw for those seeking a truly extravagant night out follows one simple fact: this bar knows how to treat its VIPs.
“Our VIP experience starts on the sidewalk,” says Cooley, the man responsible for bringing bottle service to L.A.’s gay community. “You walk up to the VIP host, security walks you to your table, introduces you to your server. The server then takes over—usually a gorgeous shirtless guy—to ensure you’re not pouring your own drinks and can celebrate properly with your friends. Being a VIP at The Abbey lasts from the time you state your name to when we say goodnight to you.”
The afternoon and evening of the L.A. Pride Parade is The Abbey’s single biggest day of the year, though you’re able to breach the insanity of long lines and wait times by booking Sunday’s only balcony table. Available for a $3,500 minimum and comfortably seating six to eight, the table is elevated above the crowd without removing you from the heart of the celebration. Best of all, the balcony table adjoins Cooley’s own personal space, which is guaranteed to be overflowing with celebrities and VIPs throughout the day.
The Andaz West Hollywood’s Pride Package
No local property better matches the indulgent spirit and all-around hedonism of L.A. Pride weekend than the Andaz West Hollywood aka the “Riot Hyatt,” so named for the history of rock ’n’ roll debauchery that once took place indoors, 10 stories above the fabled Sunset Strip.
Let that reputation for rowdiness permeate your celebratory weekend by booking one of the hotel’s special Pride packages. The Andaz is offering King and Queen suites starting at $475 per night, and your booking includes admission to Saturday’s annual SpLAash party at the hotel’s rooftop pool—the city’s tallest. The kick-off event of promoter Tom Whitman’s Wonderland Weekend 2015, a series of four impeccably produced dance parties throughout the weekend, SpLAash is a blowout guaranteed to draw the city’s sexiest eye candy.
Those for whom a king bed simply won’t cut it can always opt for the Andaz’s Penthouse Suite, the property’s largest accommodation at 1,400 square feet, complete with separate living and dining quarters, a marble rain shower, and gorgeous teak balcony overlooking the entirety of the Hollywood Hills.
All Access at the Pride Festival
PrideFest, the festival component of L.A. Pride that takes place on Saturday and Sunday, combines live music sets by some of pop music’s finest (Kesha, Fifth Harmony, Wilson Phillips) with food and drink vendors, booths by local community organizations, and risqué demonstrations and tutorials in the adults-only Erotic City area.
While general admission to the festival runs only $20 per day, those looking to take on the festival comfortably and hassle-free best opt for the VIP pass. Only $100 for the entire weekend, the upgrade includes exclusive dining options once inside, access to a private viewing deck from which to watch the weekend’s performances and, best of all, access to Thunder Ground, the weekend’s pop-up roller rink offering DJ sets by local favorites and screwball disco-era fashion.
An Evening Among the Roses
Part-library, part-art collection, and part-botanical gardens, The Huntington is both one of the city’s most picturesque locales and one of L.A.’s hidden gems. Its rolling lawns, covering more than 100 acres, feature some of the country’s most important botanical attractions, the roses being a local favorite.
A sophisticated event to kick off L.A. Pride weekend, An Evening Among the Roses is an elegant party dedicated to the ongoing support The Huntington receives from LGBT members and donors. Guests are encouraged to “dress to the nines” in “whimsical garden attire” while indulging in music, cocktails, and hors d’oeuvres. Plus, with a host committee that includes the likes of Don Bachardy, David Bohnett, and Lorri Jean of the L.A. LGBT Center, the annual celebration is a veritable who’s who of gay L.A.
Tickets for An Evening Among the Roses run $75, though an additional donation to The Huntington Library is encouraged.
Upscale Eats at Cecconi’s West Hollywood
In terms of a stately selection of dishes and cocktails and proximity to the beating heart of L.A. Pride, Cecconi’s—located only a block from the festival—is a hot spot no matter the season. The site of at least one A-list event during Oscar week each year, this Northern Italian bistro on the corner of Melrose and Robertson is the perfect respite during Pride weekend.
Escape the summer heat with a table on the open-air terrace, where—accompanied by other well-to-do Pride revelers and Hollywood’s next big name—you’ll treat yourself to light bites like the Grilled Octopus and Truffle Pizza and Fresco-inspired cocktails like the La Fresh: 50 bleu vodka, lillet blonde cucumber, rosemary, lemon juice, and club soda.