In some ways coming to LA this year is a good taster of things to come for London when the smoking ban comes into force in the summer of 2007.
There has been a ban in place here for several years. I got my first real taste of it at The Viper Room last night. Being in a gig/club venue without people smoking - or more importantly without me being able to light up - was definetly weird. I didn't mind the lack of smoke in the venue but being that this situation is one of the places I do usually smoke it was weird. Doubly so as I didn't know anyone there to take my mind off having a cigarette.
Luckily The Viper Room had an exit leading onto the main street which you could slip out of to fuel your addiction.
One thing the ban does promote though is talking to people. I ended up chatting to loads of people on the street outside, including two of the bands who were playing as they were out there both for smoking reasons and the fact that 'outside the door' was also the dressing room as such as The Viper Room is a very small venue and the bands have to wait in the street with their equipment until the previous band has finsihed and cleared their nown stuff away. Anyway, I like the smoking ban for the promotion of strangers talking to each other although I will also say that Americans do really seem to be much more friendly than Brits. Most of the people I've met in LA have smiled or nodded in the streets, etc. It also seems an unwritten code that anyone in the alternative community who passes another alternative person says hello or nods. Tribes sticking together and all that I guess? :p
Another thing the smoking ban does promote (or at least it did in me) was drinking. I'm not a beer drinker but I think I had more beer last night than I have done in the last few years combined. Felt it this mronign a bit too :p
Anyway, The Viper Room is a VERY small venue. It surprised me double so I guess because it is such an internationally famous venue - not least because of the death of River Phoenix or the part ownership by Johnny Depp. It holds upto 250 people and is pretty much a single room with a bar, a stage, and a few seats (usually reserved). I only actually caught two bands last night. First up were the really very good Mindcandy from Detroit. They are definetly in the rock mold (think along the lines of Nickleback or Bush)and are very together as a band and also put on a blinding performance. I ended up cahtting to them a fair bit, was given their latest album (a double CD and their fourth release) free of charge and they invited me off to a club called The Roxy which they were heading off to (I declined but in hindsight it would have been good to have gone). The second band were pretty dire. They were called Native June and I'm not sure if they were actually Irish or just fake American Irish. Either way I didn't like their music and drank too much during their set out of boredom more than anything else. I ended up leaving after them as my headache was already beginning to form and my body was moving itself down the street back to the hotel before my ind really realised where I was going.
Oh, I think Vic Reeves might be staying at the same hotel as me. Not sure but someone who looked very like him passed me yesterday afternoon.