In 1998, Merv Griffin, owner of the Beverly Hilton Hotel, launched something new - and something old: the Coconut Club, an updated version of the classic Cocoanut Grove, the glamorous nightclub that used to draw in the stars at the Ambassador Hotel. Merv used to sing at the original Cocoanut Grove with Freddie Martin's orchestra. (In fact, his big hit song was "I've Got a Loverly Bunch of Coconuts!")
If you want to dance the night way to Big Band swing and salsa, in an Old Hollywood room reminiscent of the 40's, this is the place to be.
The new three-level club (weekends-only) is set in the grand ballroom of the Beverly Hilton and features dining for 450 in a tropical setting (with gold & silver palm trees and wild-eyed monkeys), plus swing dancing on the dark-blue, 900-foot dance floor - currently featuring the sounds of Swingerhead on Saturdays, followed by Latin jazz with Salsa Caliente, and the 70's disco sounds of Boogie Knights on Fridays.
Says Merv: "We believe it will be the supreme supper-dance club on the West Coast."
And it certainly seems popular right now, the dance floor filled with well-dressed patrons expertly executing the rumba and mambo, and celebs such as Billy Crystal, Hugh Hefner, Andy Garcia, Loni Anderson, Esther Williams, Gabriel Byrne, Mickey Rooney and Victoria Principal (whose husband surprised her with a birthday party here in 1998.)
The first scheduled event was a star-studded post-awards party for the People's Choice Awards show. Singer Lou Rawls was a recent performer at the club. And later, Frank Sinatra Jr. performed with a 20-piece orchestra.
Other celebs seen at the Coconut Club (besides Merv himself) include Tom Cruise, Melaine Griffith, Antonio Banderas, Jack Lemmon, Neve Campbell, Michael Jackson, Robert Duval, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Olivia Newton-John, John Voight, Leslie Ann Warren, Tori Spelling, Jerry Lewis, Penny Marshall, Tony Danza, Regis Philbin, Angela Bassett, Armand Assante, Shirley Jones, Mark Wahlberg, Don Knotts, Vanna White, Mel Brooks & Anne Bancroft, Martin Short, Cybill Shepherd, Jack Klugman, Tom Beringer, Melissa Gilbert & Bruce Boxleitner, Martin Landau, Gabriel Byrne, James Coburn, Jackie Collins, Jon Lovitz, Lou Rawls, Ted Danson & Mary Steenbergen, Edward James Olmos, Angie Dickenson, Barbara Eden, Robert Vaughn & Faith Ford.
The 3,600-foot club is open only on Fridays and Saturdays, from 7:30 PM to 2 AM (with a $10 cover), converting back to a conventional ballroom for the rest of the week. Minimum age is 21.
Free dance lessons
are available. There's a small supper menu (dinner reservations at the
club require a $20 minimum per person), a full bar (called the Mango Bar)
and a cigar room named Chimp's (which is owned by owned by Chuck
Norris and Jim
Getting there: The Coconut Club is located inside the Beverly Hilton hotel. The hotel is located at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard. To reach the Beverly Hilton from Rodeo Drive, go south on Rodeo to Wilshire Boulevard. Turn right (west) on Wilshire, and go about a half mile west to Santa Monica Boulevard. The hotel will be on your left (south) side.
more information about the Coconut Club, see Merv's own website at: http://www.merv.com/hotel/beverly_hilton/coconut/default.asp.]
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