Guests at the new nightclub The Central: Social Aid and Pleasure Club on 14th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard enjoy a live performance. The new club combines indie music and electronica with social activism and top quality beer and whiskey.. (photo by Tiffany Rose)

SM BLVD — There’s a new place for pleasure and social activism in Santa Monica.

Rory Lovett, along with partners Todd Christiansen and Casey Phillips, are looking to revitalize the Westside club scene with the renovation and roll out of a restored nightclub at the corner of 14th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard called The Central: Social Aid and Pleasure Club. The club, formerly known as 14 Below, has laid dormant for three years.

“Todd, Casey and I had done business together at The Mint. We had a really good working relationship and decided we wanted to open a venue on the Westside,” Lovett said.

Christiansen, who at one time owned the club, had a strong relationship with the landlord and approached him, along with Casey and Lovett, with their new concept for the venue. The landlord agreed and thus “The Central: SAPC” was born.

Both Lovett and Christiansen — long-time Santa Monica residents — are looking forward to bringing live music back to our little city by the sea.

“What we’re really trying to do is develop a venue on this side of town that really caters to the indie scene. Under that sort of larger umbrella we really want to develop the electronic music scene, and we really want to fuel some DJ culture as well,” Lovett said.

While that is the general direction in which they would like to take the club, Lovett admits, “It kind of dictates itself.”

“Whatever sticks to the wall here is what we’ll go with — what people want to see and hear — but we think there’s a demand for this type of music on this side of town that hasn’t been tapped into yet.”

The club has two rooms. Step down into the front room — where the vibe is warm, a fireplace, a cozy couch and soft lighting welcomes you while friendly bartenders mix up potent concoctions. Behind heavy curtains is the entrance — for an additional fee — to the bands/DJs/and dance floor. A second bar here insures you won’t ever go thirsty. There are 12 beers on tap, a selection of high-end whiskey and even some Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboys.

“Our business model is sort of a three-headed monster: We really want to provide a nice watering hole for people in the neighborhood to come by, hang out, have a cocktail and listen to some great music,” Lovett said. “We also want to put on great live music shows. That’s our strength. And lastly, we really want to generate a fun type of party atmosphere for people who are involved in political causes and nonprofits,”

The club hosted a benefit for those impacted by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The owners want the space to be welcoming to all points of view, a gathering place for social activism where community meetings and rallies can be held, with music being a unifying force.

“Each of us individually have our own particular slant, but we want this to be a home to everyone. We don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves by saying, ‘We only cater to the left of the political spectrum,’ certainly we will, but we will also cater to the right wing, if they have something that they want to do,” Lovett said. “That was part of the idea of calling it The Central, that and the fact that if you get out a map, it’s right smack in the middle of Santa Monica.”

Personally, I’m just glad it’s close to my house.

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