What are Dale DeGroff’s favorite cities?
New York has been the dream of my life. When I was a kid, I traveled with my dad who was a Navy pilot and I lived everywhere. I spent the first year of my life on an island in the South Pacific and ended my teenage years across the world living in Morocco and then in Spain. When I had a choice to live where I wanted to live, I chose New York City. I got here, and it was massively intimidating and it was everything I dreamed about: a 24-hour kick-in-the-ass kind of city. There was no let up and there was no mercy. New York is unique of all cities — it never changes and yet it never stays the same. For every generation, it’s an absolute magical place. It’s not true of very many cities — I would say Paris. I’ve also spent a lot of time in London. London is nice in a different way. It’s not like New York at all. It’s not that 24-hour, kick-in-the-ass kind of city.
I loved living in L.A. I happened to be there at the right time. I lucked out and worked at an astonishingly wonderful place, Hotel Bel-Air. In 1978, I rolled up to Hotel Bel-Air in my 1969 Dodge Dart and walked straight into the bar. The head bartender was there, remarkably, because the day before he had fired the daytime bartender. He did not want to be there. He asked me a couple of questions and found out that I worked at Charlie O’s, the original one in Rockefeller Center. He said “Come back tomorrow, I’ll try you out for a couple of days.” I stayed there for six years. This is a top hotel — one of the top hotels in the world. Can you imagine this scenario today?