I Had the Time of My Afterlife

Brittany Menjivar attends Boardner’s goth club in Hollywood and finds that she’s in parties. It’s in the can!

By Brittany MenjivarJuly 4, 2024

    I Had the Time of My Afterlife

    WENZDAY’S PARTY, Boardner’s, Los Angeles, Every Wednesday.


    Los Angeles is goth the way apple pie is American. From the Old Hollywood fashions that influenced the modern goth aesthetic to the local bands that defined the music genre to the haunted hotels and cemeteries that have spawned millions of ghost stories, its history sends a message: this is vampire territory. Thus, when my friend flew into town last week and asked me to show him some iconic sights, I guided him past Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, past the Walk of Fame, and into a goth club—specifically, Boardner’s on North Cherokee Avenue.


    In college, I described myself as “goth-adjacent”—but the “actually goth” shoe (a black platform boot, to be precise) certainly fit. I listened to Bauhaus and paired dark lipstick with leather and crucifixes; New Haven’s local goth bar became my go-to dive. So, not long after visiting Los Angeles, I found myself at Boardner’s, like some species of moth drawn not to a flame but to its shadow. The Hollywood venue is most famous for Bar Sinister, the eldritch dance party it has hosted every Saturday since the 1990s. At the end of June, my friend and I went to try out Wenzday’s Party, the venue’s midweek goth and industrial event. I was happy to see that the club was packed, per usual. (Of course it was—why would the city’s undead allow themselves to be chained down by worldly constraints like “work tomorrow”?)


    Close your eyes and imagine a set built for a Halloween Ball scene in a high-budget film. You are imagining Boardner’s. The wall behind the bar boasts a bookcase; gargoyles keep watch from either end of the counter. A few leather-bound volumes dangle from the ceiling on imperceptible strings, as if a wizard cast a spell commanding them to flap their hardback covers and flit through the air like bats. Candles cast flickers of light onto dramatically upholstered sofas. Still, the atmosphere is hardly self-serious. When we entered, patrons were jumping up and down and twirling upon the platforms scattered across the room; I spied an empty one and pulled my friend up with me.


    The spirit of the vampire was indeed alive within those walls. By that, I’m not referring to the club’s spooky ambience, but to the fact that we seemed to have stumbled into a space beyond time. From my lookout point atop the platform, I spied goths in a variety of anachronistic ensembles—all of them adhering to the club’s “STRICT Gothic, Industrial & Fetish Dress Code.” I named their archetypes in my mind: pirate goth, cyber goth, Hot Topic mall goth, Salem witch trial goth. Yes, I saw Goody Proctor dancing to KMFDM, and I’m pleased to report that she was having the time of her afterlife. One pallid fellow with jet-black hair spun across the floor in a continuous figure eight pattern—perhaps the ghost of a ’90s regular bound to dance the same path for all eternity. Rather than the sing-along goth classics I’d come to know from my college years, the DJ spun a series of instrumental-heavy industrial tracks; the wordless beats only heightened the feeling that I had stepped through a portal.


    My friend and I sought out the patio for some fresh air. Outside, wax dripped from candelabras, and black-and-white movies—goth is Hollywood!—streaked across the walls. The moonlight revealed goths of every age; I wondered if any of them had been there to witness the club’s opening. In a world of two-minute trends that fade or turn on a dime, how lovely it was to find a scene so steadfast, so sure of what it celebrated, so resolutely undead.


    ¤


    Photo of Boardner’s courtesy of Whiskey Shotz.


    LARB Short Take live event reviews are published in partnership with the nonprofit Online Journalism Project and the Independent Review Crew.

    LARB Contributor

    Brittany Menjivar was born and raised in the DMV; she now works and plays in the City of Angels. With her partner in crime Erin Satterthwaite, she runs Car Crash Collective, hosting late-night literary readings at Footsies Bar in Los Angeles. Her poetry and fiction have been featured in HADDream Boy Book ClubSpectra, and Dirt Child, among other publications. Additionally, she was named a 2023 Best of the Net Award Finalist. You can stream her short film Fragile.com on YouTube’s ALTER Channel, where it has nearly two million views. You can also find her on Substack: she posts cultural criticism via BRITTPOP, and keeps track of the most exciting events happening in L.A. each week via The Angel Almanac.

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