Fubar as a venue offers an admirably wide variety of events throughout the week, but “Dance Bitch” is certainly one of the more colorful and less predictable. Some might recall Francesca’s Fubar party from a few years ago, “Glitter Box,” or be familiar with him hosting “Redlight,” there on Saturday nights. But “Dance Bitch” is Francesca’s latest nightlife creation, and his seriously sharp attention to detail and whimsical mind result in an experience unlike any other on a Friday night in West Hollywood.
It’s remarkably tough to describe Billy Francesca but it seems crucial to at least attempt to do so because his unique persona reflects so strongly onto the tone of the night. With a personality that starts as a mix of beauty school sergeant, retired aerobics instructor, and gender-bending cabaret star, Francesca comes across as a strange amalgamation of personalities; Justin Bond meets Brenda Dickson meets Willy Wonka meets Lucy van Pelt meets Olivia Newton-John meets Joan Crawford meets Patsy Stone meets an early Bette Midler and an older Liberace, with a terrific taste in music.
By throwing "Dance Bitch," Francesca says he hopes “to set people free, to get them to let go of the week’s stress and just live for the music.” Devoted to delivering this guest experience, Francesca can often be spotted behind the booth, corseted and intently peering into his DJ equipment as he artfully unleashes a line-up of hits onto an excitable crowd. He’ll play the best dance-inducing songs from the eighties, nineties and all the way up to Gaga, though it's definitely not the kind of night where one can hear the latest circuit remix, hip-hop track or anything from Miley Cyrus. When Francesca does have guest DJs in the booth with him, he seems to be able to unwind a bit more, play with the crowd and tease his team of dancing eye candy.
And yes, about that eye candy: a pack of lithe, glistening go-go dancers wiggle, weave and wave above the crowd throughout the evening. While all the dancers are quite attractive and are notably athletic, occasionally the slightly more serious, sexier tone of the dancers above can become disconnected from the mood of the crowd below. “Dance Bitch” appears to be mostly frequented by pairs and groupings of friends, which despite some guest and go-go dancer interaction and a few later-in-the-evening love connections on the dance floor, means the vibe is mostly set by people dancing unselfconsciously across the floor. Several are dancing and singing along, and many of them are grinning while they break out moves they last got to use in high school. It’s quite a mixed crowd of gays, with a handful of girls in there, or as Francesca describes it “ a mixture of misfit toys and sexy models who want to live,” covering a range of ages, looks and body types.
Francesca’s influence extends to the landscape of the evening, which has at times included a telephone booth, a giant bouquet of Styrofoam mannequin heads, a cotton candy machine, fire-blowing bartenders, or a purple-wigged drag queen working up a sweat on a stationary exercise bike. “Eclectic” would be putting it lightly. Francesca keeps things fresh for his followers, often encouraging guests to try out themes for an evening, in the past featuring a Glam Rock Glitteratti Night, a Clown party (eek!), a Tiki theme, and a Pajama Party. At the end of November, Francesca launched a new concept in the back of the bar, the "Sugar Shack," a sectioned off area with a separate VIP bar, go-go dancers and entertainment. The smaller "Shack" is an adult Candyland – the resident bartender sweetens cocktails with marshmallows and sweet treats, while guests can pull from clusters of jumbo Pixy Stix and rainbow-colored lollipops. A spirited drag queen hostess usually sweeps through this area and around the main dance floor, offering shots to the crowd.
A few insider's tips for those checking out "Dance Bitch" for the first time:
- Guests pay $5 at the door if not on the “Dance Bitch” guest list but can easily have their names added by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Those on the list are free before 11 p.m. or pay $3 after.
- Though the majority of the crowd doesn't arrive until after 11 PM, there are $2 vodka drinks until 10:30 p.m., and 2 for 1 cocktail specials run from midnight to 12:30 a.m..
- The "Dance Bitch Valentine’s Ball” will kick off the Valentine’s Day weekend on February 12th, and February 26th Francesca will transform the club into a Rio Carnaval night, with a cash prize for the most elaborate costume.
For more info: Fubar 7994 Santa Monica Boulevard West Hollywood (323) 654-0396