On November 20, for an assignment about L.A. LIVE’s cultural impact, I toured The Conga Room with managing partner Brad Gluckstein. The two-story, 15,000-square-feet Latin nightclub and restaurant will debut on December 10. The night will begin with a press conference featuring Mayor Villaraigosa, followed by 8 PM red carpet stroll and 10 PM performance by will.i.am and The Conga Room All-Stars, headed by Grammy winner Oscar Hernandez.
The Conga Room’s ownership group is similar to the original Miracle Mile family, including Jennifer Lopez, Jimmy Smits, Paul Rodriguez and Sheila E., plus new owners Baron Davis of the Clippers, singer-producer will.i.am, and actor Amaury Nolasco (“Prison Break”), who was a bartender at the old Conga Room.
Boca – the Pan Latin restaurant – features two walls of soundproof glass, which allows diners to be part of the excitement and still have a separate experience. Gluckstein found chef Alex Garcia in New York, where he cooked at Patria and Calle Ocho. On weekends from 11:30 AM – 4 PM, Boca will serve a “Hangover Menu.” Wolfgang Puck Catering will handle special events at The Conga Room.
The Conga Room’s vivid space is a collaboration between contemporary architect Hagy Belzberg and artist Sergio Arau, who is best known for his Mexican pop art. The space features four bars, including a honey-colored butterfly pattern that backs the east bar.
Cuban-American artist Jorge Pardo, who’s shown at LACMA and The Guggenheim, crafted the yellow Papaya Bar, which is supposed to resemble a cracked-open papaya. The ceiling features flower petals backed by sound dampening panels. For the northwest corner, Arau’s murals (shown above) depict a flying luchador and a showgirl inspired by ’60s era Racquel Welch.