Downtown Dark Nights is a free community event hosted by LA Live in Downtown Los Angeles. It often occurs on the unusual Friday evenings when there is no scheduled concerts, sports events or cultural gatherings happening at LA Live, Microsoft Theater, the Convention Center and the Staples Center. The evening begins at 6PM and the fun progresses well into the midnight hours. One can experience a fun time here as neighborhood vendors, local artists, street performers and a hip-hop DJ treat the growing gathering of the masses to free and lively entertainment.
By this, I mean that while hypnotic music can be heard across the campus, graffiti artists creating gorgeous life-sized murals can be witnessed from beginning to end, performance artists of all types do what they do to impressive the crowds with their respective talents and skills, and neighborhood artisans who sell their wares by way of interesting and unique artwork, handmade jewelry, leather pocketbooks, etc. can engage in friendly conversations with you if you so desire.
Here are the wares of some of the local vendors I met:
We enjoyed interacting with the local performers, including these performance artists on stilts and the bodypainting artist and muse. Can you find me in one of the photos? No, I am not the woman in the bikini, lol.
The dance performances by way of hula hooping go-go dancers were a hit with the kids. It was the following breakdance battle that really got me missing the days of when House and 90’s Hip-Hop Music were commonplace in the streets of Los Angeles. Here are some photos of the wonderful breakdance performances (you can also check out my video captures of some of the electrifying routines here and here):
They welcomed some of the audience members to join in on the fun, too:
Hey, even my kid and one of her buddies felt inspired to dance!
The process of creating art was a sight to see. Witnessing local artists actually creating different art murals in one venue and in real time? Even better.
Check out a sampling of the awesome graffiti artwork from last night’s Dark Nights event:
Hubby and kids were hungry, so we took a quick dinner break. We knew that most of the nearby restaurants on the campus offered tasty $5 Dark Nights menu items and specialty drinks. While I’ve heard that most plates are of the small “Happy Hour” portions, my family, friends and I were lucky enough to buy decent-sized meals at Smashburger ($5 for a cheeseburger, fries and fountain drink) and at Live Basil Pizza ($5 for a 1/2 size serving of delicious Mediterranean Pizza and fountain drink); one of our friends paid an extra $5 to upgrade the drink for a fancy microbrew). We were also lucky to have decided to have dinner before the massive crowds decided to grab a bite to eat (our wait to order our food AND to witness our food being prepared for us was a total of 5 minutes!).
The dark evening sky offered us a very different experience of Dark Nights.
Check out the fantastical animal sculptures made out of recycled materials (the artist told my friend that it took her a year to complete each sculpture)…
…Klieg Lights illuminating the Los Angeles sky,
…and the interactive illuminated light displays which provided ambient lighting to the otherwise dark street.
Kid-like fun for grownups was had when street performers welcomed the public to participate in some jump roping.
A second breakdance battle, this time with another dance troupe, broke out in what otherwise would have been a busy Downtown street.
Later, the dance troupes and DJ cajoled the passive audience to join in on the fun, thereby creating a massive block dance party.
Lastly, we’ve been told by fellow attendees that we should end the evening by visiting the nearby Ritz Carlton Hotel because it has an observation deck in WP24, a lounge & restaurant located on the 24th Floor. The Ritz Carlton and WP24 staff members so very gracious when welcoming us to the beautiful views of Downtown Los Angeles even though we did not lodge or dine there. They were also very kind to our children, who by the evening’s end, grew very tired and grumpy.
This “non-event” event offers $10 parking on Lot W/Gate B, or $5 if you sign up online as a Downtown Preferred Member. One of my friends skipped the headache of Los Angeles traffic altogether, opting instead to take the Metro Expo Line with her husband and kids from Santa Monica’s 5th Street station to DTLA’s Pico Boulevard station. After proceeding west on foot towards LA Live for 2 minutes, they were able to join us in the merriment. She told me the train ride wasn’t bad, taking only 55 minutes from start to finish. She also turned me on to the TAP Card Matching Program special that the City of Santa Monica is offering indefinitely: load your TAP Card with $20 and the City will match your fare with another $20. That means you have $40 to use commuting on the train at your disposal this summer!
What an awesome, fun time to spend a Friday night in the City with family and friends! Check out the Dark Nights updates for the next time Los Angeles finds that there is absolutely nothing going on. You might find yourself dancing in the streets with artists and your neighbors.
800 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Parking: West Garage, Gate B (Lot W, Gate B) (CASH ONLY)
Enter on Chick Hearn Court (between Figueroa Street and LA Live Way)
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