At the landing of Angels Flight, stands the black sheep of Bunker Hill: La Cita, the dive bar above all dive bars. Enter into eye shocking darkness, give it a minute; you’ll slowly adjust to the red haze that radiates off string lights and mariachi decor. Cocktails, micheladas and buckets of beer are slung across the bar to patrons seated along; some alone, some rowdy, but mostly regulars. An older woman sat alone sipping a beer - she giggled at her phone and chatted with the bouncer in a tender, motherly manner. She knows everyone by name.
Originally, La Cita was a family owned Mexican club that sustained three generations before Carl Lofgren, David Neupert, Pete Lenavitt and Jeff Semones bought it in 2006. At that time customers expressed some fear in losing their beloved dancehall to money hungry businessmen — but not these guys. “We felt an obligation to maintain the legacy,” says Carl, “we took the space, saw what revolves around it and we amplify it.”
La Cita is made up of two parts with two hearts. Grab a drink at the front bar and bear witness to live music as sauced up dancers scuff the floor to the beats of Latin banda, DJs or punk rock. Relax in the back patio, notably known as ‘El Patio,’ where smokers hold quiet conversations and dancers catch their breath. Staying true to its roots, Sundays are reserved for Doble Poder, a 7 hour homage to banda music where people stomp their boots off for a straight 45 minutes — every hour. However, Sundays are not complete without nursing a hangover, El Patio hosts build your own bloody marys for all weekend brunch enthusiasts. “We have a great appreciation for differences in culture and we celebrate that. We’re not trying to be anything other than what we are, we let it evolve into what it is.” The days alternate with different vibes, varying between weekly gay dance parties, pin-up rockabillies or punky reggae. This harmonious clash in cultures is what makes La Cita, uniquely La Cita.
In a city undergoing constant change, La Cita stands quietly on the sidelines observing the outgoing and the incoming, all while keeping one thing in mind, “We don’t stay safe, we like to mix it up. We’re here for the community. We want to build the city of downtown, not make it competitive, we’re part of what makes LA better.”
Janica de Guzman