South Gate’s El Parral Night Club is Reopening After 20 Years of Closure

What is El Parral?

Although not a club in the traditional sense, El Parral is now known for its salsa dancing and drinks. It is one of the only places in Los Angeles that has a salsa bar on Saturdays. In addition to the salsa dance floor and drink specials, there are two main stages with salsa DJs playing music from Latin America and Latin American culture in general. This nightclub provides a lively way for people to enjoy Latin American culture by providing music of all varieties for all tastes. Salsa is popular because it is a way for people to dance. Latin American cultures are rich with music and dancing. El Parral is a fun place to visit even if you do not enjoy salsa dancing.
Above: Left: What is El Parral? Right: The Salsa Bar at El Parral
“[Left]In Argentina, there are three types of wine, red, white, and champagne. In Mexico there are three types of wine too, but instead of champagne we have Tequila. A drink that is a blend of grape juice, sugar cane, water and yeast, and they serve it in a shot glass. It is called “Margarita”. Although there are many different varieties of Tequila including silver tequila, gold tequila, aged (añejo) tequila and mixto or Oro tequila or army navy. In its purest form, it is clear as water with no color. However as most people drink it straight up without mixing in anything else.

el parral night club south gate
el parral night club south gate

Who was South Gate’s Most Famous Residents?

South Gate’s most famous residents include the rappers IceCube, MC Ren, and Dr. Dre. Rapper Kurupt of the rap group Tha Dogg Pound also grew up there. Southgate is a Los Angeles neighborhood with a long history. Its first inhabitants were the Tongva Native Americans. The Tongva lived in Southern California for thousands of years, following the course of the nearby Los Angeles river and sea, but then after it was diverted for agriculture and suburban development, their hunter-gatherer lifestyle was changed forever. The longest time period for which there is any record for Tongva occupation of South Gate begins in 1502 when a Spanish expedition led by Juan Cabrillo passed near South Gate. The Tongva lived in the area until 1851. Thousands of years earlier, when the tribe’s earliest ancestors first arrived in Baja California from the north, they did not settle in what is now South Gate.
A portion of one of the largest Tongva sites in Southern California is located near Grand Avenue and 190th Street in Los Angeles; it was once known as “Indian Hill” or “Moenkopi Hill. In that location were some of the earliest Tongva settlements. The Tongva traded with other Native American tribes and nominally lived in the region, according to archeological evidence, until about 1542. Most of what is now South Gate was also once inhabited by the Tejana Cahuilla, who lived in separate villages from each other and from the Tongva and Chumash people who lived nearby. They built their houses out of stone, which was a common practice among Indians of that era. There is an old Indian cemetery on the grounds of the George F. Bailey South County Regional Park, which was founded as an arboretum in 1934.

el parral night club south gate
el parral night club south gate

El Parral in History and What it Was like as a Kid

Steve Smith grew up in South Gate in the 1960s, an era when racial tensions were high. Smith’s family moved to South Gate in 1952, and he had a very different experience as a child because he did not grow up in a white neighborhood. Smith claims that we did not do anything in South Gate but play basketball. We played all day, every day. It was a very innocent time, and you didn’t have beef with people if you beat them on the basketball court or football field. The neighborhood was so incredibly tight-knit because of all the people there were young too, like me and my friends. There were no gangs or anything like that – that wasn’t even an issue… In 1992 we discovered El Parral, one year before it was taken over by Latinos. We knew there was a club, but we didn’t know how bad the crime was. My mom had to be the one to go in and see what it was about. We saw things for ourselves and the neighborhood knew about it but did nothing because of the crime. I remember when we first discovered that something dangerous was going on in El Parral, and my mom rushed into a room, where there were several young Latino men that were at a table playing cards. She told me that they didn’t deserve to be here. My mom was just the woman we all looked up to and tried to emulate. My parents were very happy together, they had been married for 30 years when
Paul, one of my best friends growing up in South Gate, lived around the corner from El Parral. He said that his parents used to go to El Parral too when he was a kid. When he turned 14, his parents stopped going because it became a dangerous place for them.
Smith: “El Parral in History and What it Was like as a Kid”

el parral night club south gate
el parral night club south gate

The Origins of El Parral Night Club and What it Would Be like Today

El Parral Night Club was founded in 1977. The owner, Jimi Lorenzo, and his wife, Ann, were devoted to providing a classy night club for South Gate residents to enjoy. The club had a lot of appeal for South Gate’s many Mexican immigrants because it had virtually everything that you need for a good night out: salsa dancing, drink specials, decorations and music from all over Latin America, as well as a large pier with a massive dance floor. The club was located in the only corner of South Gate where there were enough people to support an establishment of this size. It was also located on the relatively new 4594 section that recently had been built along with those that lead to it, so it could be seen by drivers on the nearby freeway. El Parral was also located right next to the barrio where most of the Latinos living in South Gate lived. Although not as big as clubs in other nearby cities at the time, El Parral was a great place to hang out because of the happy hour and drink specials, as well as its ability to draw many people from all over California. El Parral has caught on in popularity and even today it is known as one of South Gate’s top night clubs. It has been featured on the cover of several magazines, and has even been mentioned in the Los Angeles Times. The club’s success was not achieved overnight, however. El Parral had much to overcome before it could become one of South Gate’s top night clubs.

el parral night club south gate
el parral night club south gate

El Parral Night Club Opening & Reopening Overview and Schedule

The club was able to prosper because it was providing a service that the South Gate community needed. There were not many other places in the Los Angeles area where salsa music and dances could be enjoyed. The club also provided its clientele with drink specials and celebrations that were unique to El Parral Night Club. The establishment finally closed in 1986 and was torn down in 1992. The owners tried to sell the lot several times but were unable to find a buyer. They then decided to sell the lots separately. The current owner bought his lot in August 2002, and started the process of remodeling the land. The remodeling started in mid-2006 and is still under way. It is now clear that if the original format of El Parral Night Club would ever reopen, it would be a very profitable business venture.

el parral night club south gate
el parral night club south gate

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