WHAT DO THE FOLLOWING HAVE IN COMMON?
2013, Ohio: In the stuffy stacks of a college library, a study group sits laughing on a Thursday night. One member opens an ancient window- the sun setting on miles of forest land beyond its glass. The group discusses Hispanic cinema, ‘El Mar Adentro', their current study. In all forms of Jerseys, maxi dresses, and hipster slides, this group came together because of cinematic shots, the romance of the of Spanish, and the charismatic mug of Javier Bardem, over strong coffee. A young woman begins a google doc, playing scribe of their thoughts. They begin to brainstorm a film of their own they’d like to make someday.
1923, Paris: A Parlor in the 1920s, jazz softly playing as intellectuals muse, stunning starlets sulk beside moody painters. Cigarette smoke wafts out the windows. The bartender is an expert trombone player. This isn’t work to him- no one has money anyway. A well-known author holds a whiskey, neat, looking over to the proctor…the room silences. They’ve heard of him. Then he begins to read.
1943, Munich: A country in the midst of war and students gather around a roaring fire, discussing the current alarming state of their country. Despite the raids, persecution, and war raging on, they hold tightly together, make tea, and brainstorm ways to make change. They have perspective, they know the value of life, and they have a vehement sense of what’s right. Together, they create a pamphlet speaking out against hate and call urgently for change.
2019, Los Angeles: Two friends meet at dreamy The Satellite, the LA dance-club, after a long day of writing, an adrenaline rushing through the air, possibility coursing through their veins as they pay the cover. The place is dark- the music pulses, they find a group on the dance-floor and immediately start conversations with strangers, if not with words, with glances. The movement is a mix of experiences, lifetimes, origins, ethnicities, genders, tastes. Then that song comes on. That song. The entire place goes up in flame.
THEY'RE ALL SALONS.
Salons have existed since the beginning of time. Sharing, exploring, throwing things up against the wall till it sticks, getting things seen, made, heard, appreciating each other, living an artistic life…If you know me, you’ve heard me say that I’m moving to Paris to write a novel (I’ve been saying that for 5 years). This romanticized dream is one knit together from reading about Hemingway and Fitzgerald in the 20’s and the Bohemian period in Berlin in the 30’s. Why don’t we live our lives that way?
I think it's actually a choice. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of life without really leaving your creative stamp. In my teens, I would light a candle every night and write fervent poetry in my room. I would get up at 5 am to take creative writing class in a snowstorm. I would sit at my desk for hours and do nothing my pour out all my drawings, jokes, poems, stories…hours.
I heard all of the classic complaints- but instagram is important for my business…but the traffic on the 405…but my ex is calling…but I’m too anxious…but I’m too tired…but…but…
There is an opportunity to create every day. No matter where you live, no matter what you do for work. For me, it was about turning off the noise. Not getting trapped in my email, taking technology out of my room, allowing myself a couple hours every night- AND SUDDENLY...I’m that teenager sitting at the desk, Radiohead pouring from my 2002 boombox. The thing I miss the most are the classes I used to take in college where we’d read aloud our written plays. No one has ever read my poetry…(until Pavement, of course)
So this is where SALON comes in. There’s a part of me that believes art isn’t truly alive until it’s shared. The painter’s canvas creates emotion in the beholder- that is the purpose. If never seen, what happens to it? The novels that live in my computer unfinished are so numerous, they could start a gang, but no one has ever read them. And in turn, I think about them less.
So, WHERE TO SHARE?
I took to the streets of LA to prove that salons are alive and well and right in front of you! This is the first set in our continuous series, LA SALONS, the first 10.
1. PETE GOLDFINGER’S CLASS & WRITERS’ RETREATS
On a Sunday I go to writing class to find Pete, holding a dog, sitting on a rocking chair, wearing probably absurd pajama pants. Pete Goldfinger is an incredible writer and he hosts an excellent class. It’s ideal for feature development and the community of writers that take class from him are all wonderful. Best part? He hosts out of his gorgeous home around a family table and his sweet wife Jen will often provide baked goods. It’s a bit of heaven.
Every year, many of the writers who take class from Pete will retreat up to Big Bear for some snow, some relaxation, a break from technology, and some good solid writing time. I’ve had some of the fondest memories of my life on retreat, and gotten some wonderful writing done. Plus, a hot-tub, a chef, and movie nights? Enough said.
2. DEBBIE REYNOLDS DANCE STUDIO
On a Saturday, this quiche studio is alive with professionals and first-time dancers learning jazz. They have every various classes, but no matter what you take, everyone just wants to have fun. The energy feels reminiscent of another time. The outfits are eclectic and loud, but everyone in attendance has one thing in common...they're excited to be a part of it. You’ll meet other dance lovers afterwards even if you're a total amateur (echem...me). Definitely swap numbers to take a hip-hop class- it’s more fun with a crew.
3. REPUBLIC OF PIE
This NoHo spot is practically perfect. Live acoustic music, young creatives working, delicious coffee and even more delicious food. The vibe is bohemian with mismatched furniture, but it’s a well-lit place, caution to vampires. I’ve many a time been deeply sunk into a couch while deep in conversation with a random artist I’ve met there. Best thing? There’s a tree growing through the place!! They set up a table around it, so you can look at nature while you work.
4. TONY’S DARTS AWAY
I’m a little bit biased because my cousin works here, but this hipster, craft-beer, vegan joint in Burbank has been one of my favorite haunts for five years. There’s something homey and Midwestern to me about the super friendly bartenders, board-games, sports, and low-maintenance crowd. Also, it’s pretty common among the Tony's fans to drop by for a drink by yourself, which makes it a great place to make new friends. I tend to always be there alone hanging out with my cousin, and never fail to bond over sports, cribbage, or industry stuff with someone. Try the impossible burger and their current beer special!
5. UPRIGHT CITIZEN’S BRIGADE
UCB is my improv home, though I’ve heard this experience can be had at any of the local comedy theatres. Take a class! In UCB 101 improv class, you meet a bunch of people who are not actors, make funny and not so funny scenes, go out for beers together, go to shows together, talk about comedians and SNL, and have a super fun show that you can present to the world. My favorite thing about the new UCB building on Sunset is the Inner Sanctum theatre and coffee shop. The space is designated for newer shows and the vibe is really fun with mismatched chairs and people writing and practicing stand-up. You’ll definitely find creative collaborators just hanging out there, and TONS of hilarious humans.
6. SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK
Every summer, theatre companies bring Shakespeare to Griffith Park and Los Angelenos bring quilts, snacks, wine, and kick off their sandals for some outdoor entertainment. My favorite part is meeting new Shakespeare nerds on adjacent blankets before the show starts. But if you’re not feeling social, it’s great people watching- everyone is out to see some Billy Shakes. Babies, puppies, old people, young people, hipsters, your neighbors... you’ll be surprised.
7. THE LOS ANGELES FLOWER MARKET
Early on a Saturday morning, my friend Chels and me love to get up and go downtown. The parking will be insanely expensive (like 8 bucks!), but split it, and enter the amazing Los Angeles Flower market. You can design your own bouquets, pick out and name new succulents, find reasonably priced vases…and the place is HUGE. We wandered for hours, learning about plants, flirting with the vendors, haggling, and finding new foliage for our homes! Highly recommend breakfast afterwards as a reward for all the hard work flower arranging you did. A stop at the Last Bookstore is definitely necessary afterwards (see below).
8. TRAMP STAMP GRANNIES
This piano bar/ speakeasy is every actor & musical theatre nerd's dream. The place is small, with only a few tables and a bar, but the piano is all anyone cares about. They have themes- Musical Theatre, Pop Night…and they take requests for most of the night! It’s like the rich-man’s karaoke simply at the price of a cocktail. Best thing is, you’ll bond with everyone there over an encore of Defying Gravity. The vibe also feels 1920’s flapper meets old time-y saloon. Definitely a fun night out, even for the non-singers!
This event is my absolute #1 “salon” in Los Angeles. Every Summer and Fall, Cinespia hosts movies on weekend nights…in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. They have SO MANY CLASSIC FILMS! Not only that, they let the public decide which films to screen every season! I’ve seen Casablanca, Rear Window, The Breakfast Club, Nightmare On Elm Street, Indiana Jones…When I first moved here, my friend cancelled last minute, and I figured I could go by myself and it wouldn’t be a big deal. I arrived to find THOUSANDS of people out for it, laying on blankets, with full picnics. I felt like such a dummy. I didn’t even bring a chair. But I sat there and watched The Breakfast Club, a movie about finding a group of friends, with basically not a friend in LA. It was kind of embarrassing, so now, I harass my friends about a lot of the screenings and like gathering a large group. We pack a picnic of wine, cheese, crackers, and make a big spread! We get all bundled up, take pictures in the set-up/movie specific professional photo-booth (it’s really more of an interactive photography experience), and then we watch a classic movie. It’s really my favorite thing to do. They also just added a Horror series which is great for a town full of scary movie buffs. I’ll see you there- I’ll be the one with the blanket and picnic ;)
10. THE LAST BOOKSTORE
A downtown gem, The Last Bookstore a gorgeous exploration of literary works, comic books, articles, and local art. There are separate rooms, stacks, decent prices…then- you go upstairs. It’s like a book maze, with funky large holes in a wall of books to take pictures in, and fun side rooms of just horror, or just romance…You can easily get lost, so bring a Chelsey. My Dad and I found quite a few great and inexpensive travel books there before our trip to Ireland- this one is Tom Maney approved! It is truly the closest thing to Shakespeare & Co outside of France that I've found, but much less crowded. They do book signings and seminars there, so it’s a great place to hangout with other book nerds (me!). The Last Bookstore also hosts book clubs, even skype-ing in authors from around the globe.