Late Night at LACMA: Much Ado About Nothing

— by Caroline on Crack

I was looking forward to Late Night at LACMA; all of L.A. there, great bands and djs providing the tunes, interactive mural, awesome people-watching opportunity. But when I got there I found myself spending a majority of my time waiting. Waiting 20 minutes to get into the event. Waiting 30 minutes to get a $3 carne asada street taco. Waiting 20 minutes to get a drink from Pentimento. Waiting to make my way through the ubercrowded Dan Flavin exhibit of lights. Waiting to go to the ladies room…actually, I’ll let this one go since there usually is a wait for the ladies room.

Granted my wait in the RSVP line wasn’t as bad as it looked and definitely not as bad as it was for most people. I think it helped that I got there a little before 8. And at least it wasn’t the non-RSVP line which I heard was a ludicrous wait of over 2 hours, and that might have just been the early-evening wait time.

I’m glad I hadn’t waited too long to get in, though, else I would have been really irritated that what I found inside wasn’t in fact all that exciting. The crowds outside, the security detail and the klieg lights gave off the impression that something really exciting and grand was going on at LACMA. “What’s going on there?” a passer-by had asked me as I made my way to the insanely long lines. I should have said, “Nothing.” Instead I said enthusiastically, “Late night at the LACMA! There are a bunch of bands and djs….” Of course this was before I got in line.

Once inside, after passing the creepy circus people who greeted the masses at the entrance, I made a beeline for the taco truck in the nether reaches of the plaza. I was hungry and if I was going to have any part of the Jameson stowed in my purse, I had to eat first. I was disappointed to realize they only took cash here as they did at all the other food/drink vendors in the plaza. So I only had enough cash on me to get one measly $3 taco.

Fortunately, all the fixings were set out on a table in little portable cups so I just grabbed some salsa and a cup of onions and cilantro to add to my tiny taco to make it seem a bit more substantial. After wolfing that down, Dre and I made our way through the crowded plaza to Pentimento, the small bar/restaurant at LACMA. Twas the only bar that had a credit card machine.

We tried to order just Coke and Diet Coke but the bartender abruptly said, “If you want just soda, you have to get that in the Plaza.” So we had to order a whiskey and Coke ($10) if we wanted a proper drink tonight. That’s what I get for not carrying cash. If I had cash, I probably wouldn’t have had to wait in line either since the beer and wine cash bar lines moved quickly. S’OK though since I had my handy-dandy flask. But between me and Dre, I barely got a buzz. Just as well though since you really need to be on your toes to negotiate all the crowds and not step on too many toes.

After having our fill of people watching all the unusually dressed and interesting-looking attendees of mostly Eastsiders I’m guessing, Dre and I ducked into the Ultra Lounge, a gallery space converted into a dance club with, the flier said, Steve Aoki spinning. But he sure didn’t look like Steve Aoki.

The lounge was empty when we first walked in but then suddenly filled up with 12-year-olds ready to get their rave on to the pounding music. “This is so not my scene,” Dre sighed. “I dunno, I kinda like it. But yeah, maybe we need to drink some more and then we’ll be in the mood to dance with 12-year-olds,” I replied. So we went back to the plaza, tipped the flask to empty and drank some more.

“I wanna color!” I yelled over the music of Ima Robot and handed my half-empty plastic cup to Dre before grabbing some thick teal paint and a very big brush and heading for the interactive mural. Fortunately it wasn’t all painted in yet so I easily found some areas at the bottom of the mural that were in dire need of some teal. After adding some swathes of color to it, I felt proud of my contribution to this group effort even though it was miniscule. I wonder what they do with the murals after the event?

Since Dre’s feet hurt, we found a spot on some couches in the plaza and lounged and people-watched some more. Dre spotted a guy she used to sleep with, I ran into a friend of a guy I once dated as well as Dan from CozmoCard and Nancy from Living LArge. At one point a guy in the crowd yelled, “Caroline on Crack!” I had to laugh. It’s funny when it’s yelled in public.

Finally I decided that we really should at least look at one exhibit before we left so we moved en masse through the Dan Flavin exhibit, which runs through August 12. “Can I take a picture in here?” I asked the short sunglasses-wearing security guard. “No, no pictures,” she replied. But as I walked around it seemed like that was what everyone was doing. Without the flash of course but still taking pictures of friends posing in front of these light bars in these brilliantly lit rooms. So I snapped some shots on the sly. However one girl got caught causing the security guard to say, “Ay, mami, noo!” Heh.

After emerging from the gallery, my friends and I looked at each other and said, “Yeah, I think I’m done.” That was all we wanted to do and all we wanted to see.

Was it worth it? Well, since I only invested 20 minutes in the line outside, I’d say, yeah. It was worth it to take part in the spectacle and have this anecdote to tell. And everyone in the event seemed to enjoy the music, those who saw the Hairspray preview gushed about how great it was, kids loved coloring the mural. Everyone seemed happy, but that could have just been because they were trying to make the time they invested in that line worthwhile.

More pictures from the event.