October 15, 2009
Treehouse Social Club
I figured my son and I could use a little socializing, so where better than a place I heard of called the Treehouse Social Club. Besides the pseudo treehouse, nothing else was true about the name “Treehouse Social Club.” There was nothing social about it and it was not a club.
The Treehouse Social Club, located on Robertson and Burton Way, is well, basically, an indoor playground for kids. After circling around the block a few hundred times, we found parking. My son was a trooper and was ready to take on the Treehouse.
From the outside, the place looked cute and resembled a café with small tables on a patio covered by a huge awning with a woodsy feel. But can you judge a book by its cover? Sometimes, I must admit. Not in this case.
We headed inside. We were caged (literally) between two gates surrounded by a few scattered toys for sale and a register. There was no one around. After a two- minute wait and a few bouts of “hello, anyone here?” we were finally helped.
“Hi, can I help you?”
I smiled and asked if they were open. I could hear my own echo as I spoke, as the place was deserted and apparently not acoustically appealing either. They were open, but my son and I were the only ones there. The woman behind the counter made an excuse for the deserted playground. Evidently, I came at a bad time - nap time. She told me that it was usually empty at this hour, but should be packed within an hour. Nap time for every child in Beverly Hills? There aren’t at least five children awake at 1:00pm? Is my child off the “normal” nap track (great, now I’m failing as a mother, too)?
I figured we should go in - why not?
Nine dollars later, we were in. The place was dark. Were the lights out on purpose? Calming effect? Broken? There was a huge slide in the center of the play area with a only a few broken/dirty toys. Oh no. My son headed straight to the train table. No trains. The sign above the table read: “Trains must be checked out at the front desk, with ID.” Well, my son didn’t bring his ID, so guess it was all me. I headed to the front desk. No one was there. It was starting to feel a little creepy. My son did not seem to mind that he was the only one with dibs on the slide and toys. He was having fun sliding down the huge slide (hope he got nine dollars worth of sliding fun).
We gave up on the trains and walked around trying to find something for him to do. There was a room with art supplies and a table covered in broken crayons, dirty paint brushes, spilled paint, and artwork left from earlier in the day, perhaps. Cleaning up was not in the agenda? We did not know if we should or were allowed to go into this room, so we didn’t. And there was no one around to ask. It was getting freaky, frankly.
We headed into the bathroom to wash our hands. It smelled like a dirty diaper-filled diaper champ clear out into the playground before entering the bathroom. I went to wash my son’s hands and noticed the sign above the sink: “Only hot water is working.” Which is so convenient for a three-year-old hand washing. That’s okay, I noticed hand sanitizers on the wall in the play area. I checked the first one…empty. The second…I pressed and some strange bubbling sound came out and seeped brown foam. This didn’t look right and not very sanitizing, only I couldn’t wash it off, unless I could tolerate scalding hot water. I took my chances and washed my hands with the hot water for a mere couple of seconds before the water went from unbearably hot to boiling. Fun.
An hour had passed and we were still the only ones not napping in Los Angeles at this hour. And the only reason I hung around was because my son was enjoying the slide after all and I waited to see when the crowd would storm in. I followed my son around the playground and made sure he skipped the dirty toys. He discovered an area with a Wii and a sign that read, “see attendant.” So we saw the attendant. She apologized, “sorry all the games are broken except for ‘cheering,’” and walked away. So, I assumed cheering was out of the question for my son?
Then the crowd swarmed in within minutes. Her name was Chloe, she was two and came in with her mom. It stayed this way for another half hour, when I decided it was time to leave.
In Treehouse’s defense, I read reviews before taking my son there and they were mixed. Reviews ranged from people who absolutely loved the place and from those that rated it one or two stars and would not return. How could reviews vary so much? Did it really matter what day you chose to go there and the mood of the person behind the counter? Was it cleaner on other days as well. They served food too, by the way, but who could eat in the diaper champ filled air and who would I order from anyway? No one was around.
The concept of the place was a good one, but implementation…not so much. And maybe the reason it was empty had nothing to do with naptime for every toddler in LA after all.