Downtown Los Angeles
The scene: Part experimental theater, part rollicking party
The program: Staged on the rooftop terrace, "The Series" is a monthly performance piece that casts guests as voyeurs who observe everything from a scripted lovers' quarrel at the bar to a choreographed dance in the pool. It's one of the franchise's efforts (along with a culture website, a publishing imprint, and commissioned artwork available for purchase) to develop "Standard culture."
New York City
The scene: Leather-clad rock club meets sit-down dinner crowd
The program: When it isn't showcasing Moby or The Drums during CMJ or hosting a special gig by Dirty Projectors, the Ace offers one-month residencies to indie-rock bands on the cusp. Catch them Sunday nights in the plush, always-packed lobby—before or after dinner at the Breslin, the popular gastropub next door.
The scene: Hard-drinking artists' salon
The program: This century-old Seattle institution draws a hip, intellectually curious crowd to "Night School." The boozy series offers events like "Chamber vs. Chamber," which features rock acts and classical musicians in conversation (both literal and musical), and "No Curtain," in which actors perform scenes from celebrated plays like the 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner Ruined.
21c Museum Hotel
The scene: Kentucky-fried bohemian
The program: Not only does this art hotel display a multi-million-dollar collection that includes heavyweights like Chuck Close and Andres Serrano, it also hosts artist talks, monthly film screenings and poetry readings, the "Hear + Now" classical-music series, and one-off appearances by artists like Vetiver and My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James.