A typical Saturday night out in West Hollywood’s bars, clubs, and restaurants should feature long lines of people queuing up to enter those businesses, accompanied by throngs of people strolling along Santa Monica Boulevard.
But this Saturday, one week after both Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a State of Emergency in response to the threats posed by the CoronaVirus (Covid-19), WeHo — one of the nation’s busiest LGBTQ destinations — was in someways a shadow of itself.
From Melrose Avenue along La Cienega, west bound along Santa Monica Boulevard to Robertson at WeHo’s famed nightspot, The Abbey, the Los Angeles Blade surveyed over a dozen businesses that cater to a variety of clienteles.
The security and ID checkers at many of those establishments remarked that there appeared to be fewer people out than would be expected on a normal weekend night.
One security guard at Rage (8911 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069) who would identify himself only as Angel said he felt the States of Emergency had impacted attendance. “I dunno but it’s like no one is showing up. Like, yeah, it’s not normal.”
In fact, Rage, which is located directly across the rainbow crosswalk from Rocco, had a crowd of less than 50 people. There was no line at 10:30PM.
Even the rainbow crosswalk was empty when the light changed and almost no cars were passing by. Gone too were the revelers who normally crowd the sidewalks wandering from bar to bar.
That is not to say no one was out. The most popular bars on the Boulevard were busy but noticeably less so.
“I did my usual rounds tonight, Micky’s, Flaming Saddles, Beaches, Motherload, Rocco and most of my friends were out,” said Tristan J. “But it was more like a Tuesday night and it seemed like mostly locals; a little quieter.”
Los Angeles Blade counted approximately 320 people at Chapel and The Abbey.
A security guard at the Chapel gave a similar answer as the security guard next door at the Abbey, both asking not to be identified: “The crowds are lighter than normal but I wouldn’t attribute it to the virus or the State of Emergency.” When asked what he would attribute it to he said, “Maybe because they thought it might rain.”
But there was no rain.
At Bossa Nova, this reporter shook hand with the security guard and while asking if he had noticed any traffic differences, he took out a bottle of hand sanitizer and wiped his hands, looked across the street at the Abbey, pausing before saying “it’s definitely down,’
Pump was nearly empty.
At TomTom, which is normally a hotspot for passenger drop off, the security guard said simply “No cars.” A valet nearby on Santa Monica Boulevard echoed that, saying his business was unusually slow both Friday and Saturday nights.
At Rocco’s, located on the corner of San Vicente and Santa Monica Boulevard, the club seemed quite busy, however there was no queue — a standard feature of that club on a Saturday night — and the security guards were seen chatting with one another.
Former Congressman Aaron Schock was seen entering the hotspot alone.
Getting a burger at Shake Shack was not a problem. The parking lot was only half full and there were no patrons on the outdoor patio.
Club after club along La Cienega was empty and from the top of La Cienega at Santa Monica Boulevard, there was no traffic going south, only a string of green lights that turned into a string of red. And what would normally be a 30 minute trip on a Saturday Night to the Beverly Center area took less than 5 minutes.
The CoronaVirus impact is being felt in West Hollywood and presumably throughout Los Angeles and the nation.