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Mawby’s Bar from “Flashdance”

Aug 16th, 2017 | By | Category: Movie Locations

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While I am definitely a child of the ‘80s, there are some classic films from that era that I have never been a fan of.  Pretty in Pink, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Flashdance come to mind.  Being that there’s pretty much nothing I love more than movies with musical and dance montages, the latter should be right up my alley, but, for whatever reason, it never struck a chord.  There is one spot from it that I have been asked about regularly over the years, though – Mawby’s Bar, the club where welder-by-day/exotic-dancer-by-night Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals) worked in the 1983 flick.  Filming websites had long documented that the Mawby’s exterior could be found in downtown L.A., though it’s exact address was never specified.  Then in September 2014, The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations published some more detailed information.  According to a tip from location manager Charles Newirth, Mawby’s was a mocked-up vacant warehouse at the corner of Boyd and Wall Streets that had been demolished at some point since filming took place.  Because the building was said to be gone, I did not put any further thought into it.  So imagine my surprise when this past December, fellow stalker Chas, of It’s Filmed There, posted a page about Flashdance locales, along with the address of the still-intact Mawby’s warehouse!

I immediately headed over to Google Street View to check out the building, which, as Chas explained, looks considerably different in reality.  Not only was the structure, located at 229 Boyd Street, heavily dressed for the filming of Flashdance (with a neon, glass brick and black metal façade added to the exterior, as well as letters spelling out “hotel” written across the second level), but it was also altered in the years following the shoot.  Most noticeably, the five rounded second story windows were filled in at some point.

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Amazingly though, the outlines of those windows are still discernible today, which I was absolutely floored to see!

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I was also floored to see that the utility access cover visible in the sidewalk directly outside of Mawby’s front door is still there today!  (I know, I know – it doesn’t take much to excite me.)

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Mawby’s, which was loosely based upon a real Toronto-area strip club named Gimlets, was featured numerous times throughout Flashdance.

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Though I cannot say for certain, from the way the film was shot and a few blurbs I have read online, it seems that the actual interior of the warehouse was also utilized in the filming.  Ron Karabatsos, who played Mawby’s Bar owner Jake Mawby in the movie, even wrote in to the Fast Rewind website explaining that the club was built from scratch in an empty storefront in downtown Los Angeles.  (Though he states that said storefront was on 5th and Los Angeles Streets, that intersection is only a hop, skip and a jump away from the Boyd warehouse, so I believe he was just a bit off in his recollection.  It is also possible that a different vacant site was utilized for interior shots of Mawby’s, but I do not think that was the case.)

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I was really hoping to find some additional onscreen appearances of the warehouse from the same time period so that I could further verify the location (you know me – I don’t like to leave any stone unturned when it comes to this stuff).  While I did come across a couple, neither provided a great view of the building.  We catch a very brief glimpse of the side of it in the 1984 Sci-Fi horror flick Night of the Comet.  In the screen captures below, the Mawby’s warehouse, located just beyond the stop sign, is denoted with a yellow arrow.

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A much better view of the warehouse is shown in 1988’s Miracle Mile, in the scene in which Harry Washello (Anthony Edwards) and Wilson (Mykelti Williamson) attempt to get gas at a downtown gas station.  Unfortunately, I did not take any photographs of that side of the structure while I was stalking the place, so please bear with the Google Street View images pictured below.

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Oddly, the second floor windows that I was so excited to see the outlines of appear to have been replaced by long rectangular windows by the time Miracle Mile was shot, which makes no sense whatsoever.  If the rounded windows were actually swapped out, how are vestiges of them still apparent today?

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Miracle Mile also provides a quick glimpse of the parking lot that was formerly situated across the street from the warehouse and was visible in Flashdance.  Today, a one-story building stands on that site.

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For more stalking fun, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Los Angeles magazine and Discover Los Angeles.

Big THANK YOU to The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations and Chas, from the It’s Filmed There website, for finding this location! Smile

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: The warehouse that masked as Mawby’s Bar in Flashdance can be found at 229 Boyd Street in downtown Los Angeles.  The neighborhood where it is located is not the greatest, so please exercise caution when visiting.

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2 comments

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  1. Camilla says:

    My guess is Flashdance didn’t strike a chord because it’s BORING. 😉 It has a few good songs, and one semi-good dance scene, but the storyline is sluggish and never really moves anywhere. I was more interested in the ice skating! Still, it’s cool to see the filming locations!

    • Lindsay says:

      Yeah, it was super boring. I just could never get into it. Truth be told, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it all the way through.


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