NOTE: The Gorbals is closed and is now called The Little Easy.
The Gorbals is a rather mysterious, hard-to-find restaurant that has absolutely no online indication that the California Feetwarmers play there every Thursday night. But, somehow a group of swing dancers has figured it out and shows up every week!
The Gorbals itself is inside the historic Alexandria Hotel in downtown L.A. The area is a tad sketchy but not too bad. I parked in a dubious underground parking garage for $5, valet only (someone please let me know if there is somewhere better to park!)
The entrance is marked with a flag, but it’s up high so I didn’t notice it at all on the way in. The hotel dates back to 1906, when it was arguably the best hotel in Los Angeles (until that title was stolen by the Biltmore). It’s well past its prime (and is reportedly haunted – some areas resemble the hotel in The Shining), but still retains a bit of its charm.
Gorbals itself is a restaurant and bar. The floor is marble and all of the other interior surfaces are hard so the acoustics are terrible, but it doesn’t really matter because the music from the Feetwarmers is amazing.
There are usually swing dancers there when the Feetwarmers are there. There is no dance floor. People dance in the aisles and in front of the band. My source tells me, however, that when the monthly Downtown Art Walk happens, the place is jammed with drunk walkers, and thus is shunned by many swing dancers on that night (I believe it’s the 2nd Thursday of the month). So, I don’t recommend going to Gorbals on the 2nd Thursday of the month.
Also, since this is a restaurant and not a dedicated swing dance venue, please only go if you intend to buy dinner or drinks there! Management won’t appreciate non-paying swing dancers clogging the aisles and inconveniencing staff and paying customers, and they could drop any Swing-danceable bands because of that. Let’s be good patrons and customers and support the restaurant and band!
Gorbals is not listed on the Lindy calendar for a couple of reasons. First, there is no online schedule, so I can’t guarantee that a danceable band will be playing on any particular Thursday. Second, a few friends of mine who are regulars argued that Gorbals is already at capacity with Swing dancers on Thursday nights, and this is actually a restaurant, not a dance venue. Added publicity to dancers (instead of diners) might actually hurt the booking of Swing bands at this establishment. So, they requested that I remove it from the calendar. Gorbals will remain a secret, reserved for hard-core fans of the band. When I am sure they are playing, I will post it on my Facebook Page, so “Like” it if you want to be in on the secret!