Exchange L.A. splashes onto downtown club scene

Once part of the economic heart of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Stock Exchange is now making a comeback as a newly transformed dance club and lounge.

Let’s dance · Exchange L.A. blends modern technology with the look of old Los Angeles. The club features a Funktion One system, one of only three in the world, as well as elaborately decorated VIP rooms for rent. - Photo courtesy of Feel Good Nights

Located in Downtown Los Angeles on Spring Street in the original 1929 Stock Exchange building, Exchange L.A. has become a hot-spot for hipsters, ravers and dancers alike.

Owned partially by Camill Sayadeh, a USC alum and political science major from the class of 1996, Exchange L.A. hopes to draw a larger Trojan crowd to the venue on weekends.

The main dance floor, the “Trading Room,” is a 25,000 square foot space for dancing and mingling. Modernity and old Los Angeles are effortlessly blended; the original 40-foot-high hand-painted, vaulted ceiling lends an authentic quality to the décor, while the $1.5 million spent on lighting and sound alone lend the space a swanky vibe.

This club’s décor is not as original as some (Eden in Hollywood comes to mind), but the lack of glitz allows the building to speak for itself. The space is already extravagant without any extra frills — anything more would be too much.

There are still frills, though, even if they are not over-the-top. The building has undergone a $5 million renovation in the last two years to get it ready for its current nightclub status.

The speakers are all Funktion One brand, one of the most coveted and expensive sound systems in the world, better than the systems at Playhouse, Avalon or any other Hollywood club. In fact, there are only three Funktion One systems in the world. On top of that, Exchange L.A. also boasts state of the art smoke machines, lasers and mirrors placed appropriately around the interior.

Early Friday evening, around 10 p.m., Exchange exuded more of a lounge vibe than a typical club atmosphere. Black leather couches placed in corners on the bottom level and along the walls of the top level, the “Federal Reserve,” allowed for more intimate conversations without having to yell over the music.

Of course, as with any club, the VIP areas receive the most attention and the most desirable locations.

The Sky Loft, overlooking both the Trading Room and Federal Reserve areas of the club, can be rented out for $8,000 per night with bottle service or $15,000 per night for all-you-can-drink service.

The room was designed by one of the owners, Sayadeh, who doubles as a furniture designer, and features handmade glass tables and lamps. Besides being one of the most exclusive spaces in the venue, the room has a whimsical feel, with walls covered in hand-painted masks and miniature parachutes hang from the ceiling.

The bartenders are friendly and the prices are typical of most nightclubs, with beers around $7 and cocktails and mixed drinks starting at $15.

Founder and CEO of promoting company Feel Good Nights George Khalil said the club has been getting great business since renovations were completed.

Friday night was DJed by popular electronic duo The Crystal Method, drawing a larger crowd than normal. The club typically draws anywhere from 600 to 1,700 people each night.

The most interesting thing about Exchange L.A. is the diversity of its large crowd. Everyone from hipsters wearing furry-hooded vests to ravers, sans glow sticks, seemed to be enjoying themselves Friday night. There was even a 70-year-old couple breaking it down on the dance floor and no one seemed to give it a second thought.

Besides serving as one of the hottest new clubs downtown, Exchange L.A. also functions as a space for corporate parties and fashion shows.

Rather than spending money and time figuring out logistics to head to clubs in Hollywood, Sayadeh is hoping to start getting party buses and other student packages to Exchange L.A. for Greek events, or even just normal weekend nights, so students tired of the usual 901 Bar & Grill exploits can have a new place to experience on Friday nights.

Though Exchange L.A. itself is not dramatically different from other clubs, the space’s fusion of old and new aesthetics is reason enough to check it out.