Circa 1989 or 90', Wednesday nights at the northwest corner of Sixth and La Brea were simple and without flaw. The swingy ska reggaed and rocked-steady the walls, a mambo shot in the dark each time the King King's door swung open. Sometimes you'd want to just stand there a minute outside that door, listening, staring out at the city - which almost felt like a real city. But only for a minute. Someone touched your elbow, the doorman gave you two back from your five, and you were in.

Inside, the patrons patronized: Jazz fans in shocked harmony with disenfranchised Melrosians sat or leaned or slipped around the glowing bar in the middle of the room, working their way into the dark peripheral booths and tables; ska-folk kicked and flailed, beating up the air in front of the stage. Regular patrons, many - familiar faces returning weekly for a fix. And onstage, of course, practically embossed by spotlights into the huge red-and-gold dragon hanging on the wall behind them, Jump With Joey fiendishly bopped and blared. Bandleader Joey Altruda, at center, pulled and hammered at the upright bass, while associate leader Willie McNeil, front and left, drummed bold and meticulous; the nonchalantly frenzied brass flowed with smooth syncopations from a warm guitar, a cool piano. All so toiling and tight you could squeeze a diamond out of them every two or three minutes, dependably.

And then everyone went home and went to sleep and woke up and this whole Lounge Thing happened.