California

How to Meet Someone in Los Angeles

Calling all gals! Calling all fellas! Are you looking for love? Do you work in entertainment, TV, music, or the movies, but you’re finding it difficult to find the man or the woman of your dreams? Is toiling in the dream factory destroying your mojo?

My advice is to leave Hollywood and enter Los Angeles. True, one is a subset of the other, but it’s also a mind-set. I have concrete advice that will get you on point immediately.

Working in the entertainment industry is exciting and wonderful, but when you’re in Hollywood and everyone is chasing the brass ring, a few attitudes can sneak into your life without you realizing it. Years ago I read a line in an article in LA Weekly that stuck with me --

“If you’re at a Hollywood party, half the people there are worried that there’s a better party somewhere else that they’re missing.”

I remember witnessing this first hand, when I was at the MTV Movie Awards, which was by far the biggest Hollywood party of that particular week, yet dozens of people were on their cell phones checking out what else was going on in town and planning their next move. It’s a fun roller coaster, but ten years can disappear in an instant. When my wife Robin left entertainment and joined the regular world again, she felt relief, and said --

“I’m looking forward to finding out who my real friends are.”

On the flip side is Los Angeles. I remember being at an art opening at the old Wacko Soap Factory and Luz de Jesus art gallery on Melrose, and a movie star showed up with a camera crew in tow.  The publicity was going to be mutually beneficial to the movie star, the artist and the gallery, but people resented the feeling that the camera’s presence somehow legitimized the event and only then made it real. I heard mutterings from the crowd --

“I hate it when Hollywood invades Los Angeles.”

Now take that tension between the dream industry and the city, and lay it like a blanket over the single dating world. The over-judging, self-doubting and ceaseless worry can drive you crazy. I see so many talented and attractive young people with whom I work, torturing themselves with their Hollywood blinders on, just like I did fifteen years ago. But here’s my advice for you:

If you want to find someone -- leave Hollywood and go to Los Angeles.

Forget the screenings, mixers, clubs and bars. Los Angeles is vast and confusing, but she’s getting better at providing a way into her mysteries. Here’s one coming up:

Dance Downtown, at the Music Center

Starting Friday evening, May 16th, and continuing every second Friday night through the middle of September, you can come to the open plaza between the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Mark Taper Forum and dance with complete strangers.

Imagine this --

After a long week at work, you knock off early on Friday, let’s say 5:30. You have nice set of evening clothes with you, so you can change outfits at work. Guys trim their beards and don their small fedoras while girls slip on colored skirts with long sleeved lace tops and a statement necklace.

You head downtown early. The earlier you go, the cheaper the parking is, but you can arrive as late as 6:30 and pay 8 to 12 dollars to park at the Music Center itself.

The weather is perfect in a way that only happens in Southern California. It’s warm with a light breeze, and there are no bugs. The sky is golden as the sun starts to set, lighting up the Grand Park and City Hall in the distance below you.

You know those temporary moveable dance floors you see at weddings? They put one of those down, but big enough for two hundred people, right in front of the Lipschitz stature to World Peace, and a night of open air dancing ensues. Every second Friday is dedicated to a different dance style. This year the schedule features 60‘s dancing, Colombian Cumbia, Tango, Two-Step, Bollywood,  K-Pop, Samba, Disco, Salsa, and more.

From 6:30 to 7:30 an instructor will come on the microphone and teach you the basics of that night’s dance style. As the sun begins to set and the sky darkens, they turn on strings of Chinese paper lanterns that they’ve strung across the dance floor, so it really does feel like a wedding for two hundred people. There’s beer and wine for sale, some people bring picnics, some people bring cakes and dessert to share, just to strike up conversation. Wander around and chat and have fun. You’re now in Los Angeles.

And then, you notice the women. Or, if you are woman, you notice the men. You’ll spot the dance fiends in the crowd right away. They’re wearing beautiful tailored clothes in colorful silk and linen, usually sharp retro fashion from a better-dressed decade, but loose and comfortable enough for dancing. Yeah, they’re showing off, but they’re pulling it off too. Almost everyone else is in their version of their Sunday best, and men and women circle the perimeter of the dance floor, checking each other out and making eye contact. It feels like a cross between a Sunday promenade in Mexico or Italy, and a dance from the 1940s. You spot someone you like on the dance floor, and you and your wing woman (or wing man) move in.

You’re supposed to line up and pay attention to the instructor, but you spend as much time glancing around and smiling awkwardly at the people around you. Relax, it’s okay, because everyone else is doing it too.

 The instructor makes you rotate partners, even if you came with a significant other, so you‘re forced to meet a lot of people. And you’re forced to touch them. You’re supposed to touch, folks, it’s dancing. Hands hold hands and you twirl. A man puts his hand on a woman’s back and they both say “hello.” You’re allowed to stand close and move in rhythm. It’s not just allowed, it’s required. A foot steps on a foot, you laugh and apologize, and you try to pay attention to the instructor while you look into your partner’s eyes and trade small talk. It’s a safe and easy way to meet someone disguised as a dance lesson. Plus, I think you can size up someone pretty fast on a dance floor.

From 7:30 to 10:00, it becomes a public open-air dance, with men and women just having fun. Some people are slick show-offs, and others hang on the edge of the dance floor, afraid to reveal that they have two left feet. The men look rakish and sharp, and the women are chic and well-coiffed. It feels grounded and natural, and it gives people an excuse to meet, talk, and to stay together longer, or to move on. There are people from every decade of life, from every background and race, and you will spot someone alluring who is within five years of your age and you will feel a magnetic tug. Let celestial gravity draw you close enough together to fall into each other’s orbit. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

People dance, people eat, people drink, people talk------people hook up. I’ve seen it every time my wife and I have gone. And there’s no pressure. There’s another one in two weeks, so if people want to see each other again, but don’t want to trade numbers, they’ll be another one soon enough. As the sun sets you can stay and dance, or go out to dinner -- and there’s plenty hip eateries downtown.

When I’m there I always feel like I’m part of Los Angeles. It’s quaint compared to the high-powered Hollywood party going on somewhere in the hills above Sunset, but it’s fun. Both are good and both have value, they’re just different.

Robin and I had our first date down at the Music Center. It wasn’t this event, but the fact that our first date was in Los Angeles and not in Hollywood made a difference, I think. I was out of the dream factory and in the real world long enough to be awake and see what was around me. It was also when I started to fall in love with Los Angeles.

And it’s FREE!! You just pay for parking, or for the subway if you ride Metro.

Guys, girls, pick your outfits, pack your picnics, bring your desserts and be ready to dance and meet someone awesome. It’s funded by the James Irvine Foundation, it’s all to benefit the Music Center, the arts, and downtown Los Angeles:

http://www.musiccenter.org/events/activearts/Dance-Downtown/