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Whisky a Go Go, a music club at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Clark Street in Los Angeles, opened on Jan. 15, 1964. Named after a Parisian discotheque, the Whisky was an instant hit and played a major role in the rebirth of Sunset Strip. Steve McQueen and Jayne Mansfield were regular customers; The Beatles stopped by on their first American tour. (President Lyndon B. Johnson reportedly made a reservation at the club at his daughters' suggestion, but was a no-show.)
Club founder Elmer Valentine hired up-and-coming musician Johnny Rivers ("Secret Agent Man") to serve as the Whisky's headlining act for the first year. After Rivers' contract expired, Valentine continued to book bands big and small -- Frank Zappa, The Who, The Byrds, The Kinks... In 1966, The Doors and Buffalo Springfield gained early exposure as the club's house bands. (When Jim Morrison gave his famous obscenity-laced performance of "The End" here, the band got fired.)
Apart from music, the Whisky was also famous for popularizing go-go dancing in cages. Because of space constraints, Valentine placed the DJ booth in a glass cage suspended from the ceiling. On opening night, after the DJ backed out at the last minute, Valentine enlisted the club's cigarette girl, Patty Brockhurst, to fill in. "She had on a slit skirt, and we put her up there," Valentine said. "So she's up there playing the records. She's a young girl, so while she's playing 'em, all of a sudden she starts dancing to 'em. It was a dream." The dancing DJ was a success with clubgoers, and Valentine soon hung two additional glass cages displaying female go-go dancers. One of the dancers, Joanie Labine, was responsible for turning white boots and short fringe dress into the traditional go-go outfit.
Though the rock and roll heyday waned on Sunset Strip by the late '60s, the Whisky a Go Go thrives as a popular music venue to this day.