How I became the ‘princess of clubs’ in my own Alice in Wonderland adventure

My story of overcoming loss with the help of LA’s nightlife

In this photo someone stand up with the Graduation Award and hooded with the academic award

Xennia Hamilton graduates from LACC. Photo courtesy of Xennia Hamilton.

Xennia Hamilton, Community News Reporter

In high school, I didn’t have many friends. I was shy, a bookworm and simply was the person who didn’t speak much.

That was until I met my best friend, Robert Canales, in senior year. It would change my outlook on life forever. 

Growing up, we all have dreams of being fancy, beautiful or wealthy. Yet, it takes more than good looks or charm to get ahead. This is something I had to learn the hard way. 

I was drawn to Robert because he was a funny, caring and an overall delightful person to be around. 

“You do realize you’re hot, right? Show it,” he would say to me. 

Back then, I thought of myself as a nerd or very plain — not a rose but a dandelion that could as easily adorn a yard as be discarded. 

We grew up in Compton, a place where dreams of making it out and creating a better life are a dime a dozen. Few actually accomplish that and truly soar like Kevin Costner or Kendrick Lamar.

Robert showed me how to be a “hot girl” who wore makeup and dresses.

I called him “daddycake” because he was like a father to me, teaching me how to become a woman. He would always take me to clubs in West Hollywood, Vegas and even Disneyland. We would argue and fight, but we would always become friends again. 

It all came to a head on May 5, 2015, the morning after my birthday. That day, my best friend was tragically killed in a car accident at 24 years old.

When I heard the news that afternoon, I let out the biggest scream a person could ever let out. It was a once-in-a-lifetime bloodcurdling scream. I was hurt and devastated. I felt as if all the fun and joy in my world had come to an end.

Little did I know, it had just begun because the way out of Compton, the way out of the heartbreak from losing my best friend and the way to meet my new life came on a cold night in November 2015. It’s when I decided to join the club scene in Hollywood. 

Daddycake always told me one thing: “If you’re ever lonely, you can always make friends at a club.”

And that’s what I did. I took all my sadness with me to the club. 

Going alone was nerve-racking at first, but I did it. I went to a popular club on the Sunset Strip.

I met a promoter there, Billy, and went inside. The inside of the club was like nothing I had ever seen before with gold accents all around, floors patterned with black and white argyle tile, the drinks and champagne flowing, and the prettiest people in the world just gathered to party and have a good time.

It was as whimsical as a scene in Alice In Wonderland.

The people around me were smiling, drinking, laughing, dancing and having fun. It felt as if I belonged there, like this lifestyle was always waiting for me to dive headfirst into. 

So I did. 

I dove deep into “the scene.” I made new friends. I lived fast. I even made money by helping the promoters bring people out. Whatever I wanted, I had it. 

It. Was. The. Life.

I partied at pools in million-dollar mansions, on rooftops galore and different themed clubs — ones decorated with fauna and flora, neon lights and mirrors, and even speakeasy style clubs.

I made so many friends who I still have to this day. I became popular and felt as if I was a Hollywood princess. I knew promoters, club owners, security guards, bartenders and others in the Hollywood club scene.

I even met celebrities and got to party with them until the sun came up. It was a life that people who come to Hollywood dream of.

There were so many fun times. These experiences became my new teacher of life.

But after a couple of years, I noticed, slowly but surely, I became more and more bored most nights I went out.

All the glitz and glamour began to wane and I started craving a change.

The drunken nights, hungover mornings and a nagging feeling that I wasn’t being true to myself started to take a toll on me. 

One night in a club, I struck up a conversation with an executive from an entertainment company.

At one point, he looked around at some girls in drunken stupors at the club and looked back at me. 

“You know you don’t belong here right?” he said.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You’re too smart, you belong in a university,” he replied. 

He gave me his contact information and told me that if I ever need a job I should look him up. 

Feeling grateful and somehow relieved, I realized: That was it. That was my next chapter. A university education.

That was what was missing in my life.

It wasn’t the next drink or table to fill the emptiness of losing my friend. It wasn’t dancing or mingling with celebrities.

It was my once true love, books, that I needed to get me out of where I was and take me to where I wanted to be. I partied a bit more but realized he was right.

I wanted more and knew I was more. 

The next semester, I enrolled in Los Angeles City College to major in journalism. It was hard, but I got through it. I then transferred to Cal State LA, where I am now taking off and telling stories about the fun and fast times, like those I had, and the difficult ones, too.

The future holds promise for me again.

Perhaps I’ll have my own talk show one day or be an entertainment reporter covering the hotspots I once frequented.

What I know now is that those clubs will always be there. 

But an education? That’s needed now, and that is more important than anything.

Community News produces stories about under-covered neighborhoods and small cities on the Eastside and South Los Angeles. Please email feedback, corrections and story tips to [email protected]