5 Totally Unique Things to Do in L.A. This Week For $15 or Less

On Saturday, USC's Pacific Asia Museum will host its largest annual event: the Lunar New Year Festival.
On Saturday, USC's Pacific Asia Museum will host its largest annual event: the Lunar New Year Festival.
Courtesy of the Pacific Asia Museum

If your New Year's resolution was to get out of the house more, we've got you covered. From movement workshops to watching hilarious comedian impersonations, there's bound to be something that catches your eye. And if you're still in that New Year's spirit, the Lunar New Year is on its way.

Our five picks this week are either $15 or completely free, so get ready for some affordable fun.

5. Participate in a Social Experiment

I+We Collective Movement Workshop's "Join and move together in power" is a creepy slogan for a brilliant experiment. With social media promising community but instead creating new forms of isolation, actual in-person human interaction seems like the exception these days - but it's at the heart of interdisciplinary artist Robby Herbst's practice. Structured as a series of movement workshops "borrowing techniques from dance, social sculpture and new games," the 90-minute sessions are part relational aesthetics, part old-school conceptual exercises and part Romper Room. Herbst fills the Human Resources' gallery space with trappings of play time: masks, ladders and something called "restrictive toys." The idea here is to foster collective dynamics and group identity, documenting them in real time and physical space; to that end, artists Nancy Popp (also a partner/yoga teacher) and Dorit Cypis (also an activist and conflict mediator) will lead special sessions. New dates and details are being added at the gallery site, where you can also RSVP for these free workshops. If diving in is just too daunting, come by the midweek reception and see what the others have been up to. Human Resources, 410 Cottage Home St., Chinatown; workshops Wed., Jan. 15-Sun., Jan. 25; reception Wed., Jan. 22, 7-9 p.m.; free. (213) 290-4752, - Shana Nys Dambrot

4. Watch a Moving Performance 

Choreographer Kristen Smiarowski unveils Sleep, Staring, Well, the third installment of The Key Game Project, her ongoing response to Polish writer Ida Fink's short story "The Key Game." Written in 1986, Fink's story is barely longer than this write-up. It searingly depicts a Jewish family during World War II rehearsing their young child to deal with questioners in a way that will allow her father to remain in hiding. Smiarowski has embraced her preoccupation with the tale, each iteration taking a different approach. For Sleep, Staring, Well, tickets admit small audience groups at 15-minute intervals. Once inside, audience members can move about the two-story performance space to encounter dance, live music and art objects, as well as video and sound installations considering Fink's tale. After Saturday, the dancing ends, but the art installation remains on view through Jan. 25. Automata, 504 Chung King Court, dwntwn.; Jan. 16-17, 8 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 18, 4 p.m.; $15, $12 seniors & students. (213) 819-6855, - Ann Haskins

3. Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Right after you watch the 29th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Kingdom Day Parade over at MLK Boulevard and Western, bop on down to the California African American Museum for its eighth annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Open House. The entire day is devoted to a man who needs no introduction - even if the details of his life have become obscured over time by the legend. Today's features include a screening of The Mighty Times: The Children's March, the 2004 documentary about how the children of Birmingham marched in 1963 against segregation. There's also a live reading of My Brother Martin by Lincoln Heights actor Babe Evans, and motivational speaker The Billionaire P.A. shows up to encourage teens with a screed called "I Speak Dreams Into Existence." There's even Cake for King, a culinary celebration that should inspire you to aspire to something greater than bread. California African American Museum, 600 State Drive, Exposition Park; Mon., Jan. 20, 11 a.m.; free. (213) 744-7432, - David Cotner

2. Ring in the Lunar New Year

Unhappy New Year? No worries. If you bungled your Dec. 31 plans, barely stumbled through "Auld Lang Syne," kissed the wrong person at midnight or already abandoned your overly ambitious resolutions, just calm down. There's still time to forget your failures (and the Gregorian calendar, for that matter) and celebrate the Lunar New Year. Before the Chinese New Year closes out this month, USC's Pacific Asia Museum will ring in the Year of the Horse with its largest annual event: a free, full-day zodiac festival featuring crafts, museum tours, a Mandarin choir, Vietnamese dancing, Japanese taiko drumming, tae kwon do and, yes, a traditional lion dance. They call it the Lunar New Year Festival. And if you can't end the Year of the Water Snake by channeling the spirit of the horse, you can at least eat like one: Food trucks will make the rounds throughout the day. Pacific Asia Museum, 46 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena; Sat., Jan. 18, 11 a.m.; free. - Kelsey Whipple

1. Laugh Your Face Off

For the past decade, the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center's The $100,000 MisMatch Game has been lovingly satirizing the old game show Match Game, harking back to the era of orange carpeting, on-set celebrity smoking and humor that's both randy and mildly racist. Including these shows, the long-running spoof has raised more than $100,000 for the center. As always, creator Dennis Hensley will be standing in for host Gene Rayburn, minus the helmet hair and sofa-matching suit - though he does use a skinny microphone. Hensley will preside over a cast of local TV and web stars, including Drew Droege, Patrick Bristow and Sam Pancake, who'll be impersonating everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to Ricardo Montalban to Gwyneth Paltrow. Contestants from the audience will attempt to match the panelists' answers to fill-in-the-blank questions, and hilarity will ensue, not to mention musical numbers and prizes. Sadly, you won't be seeing Betty White, Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly or Richard Dawson. What the blank? Renberg Theater, 1125 N. McCadden Place, Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., Jan. 17-18, 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 19, 7 p.m.; $15. (323) 993-7400, - Siran Babayan


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