Best of L.A.

Best Of 2013


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Readers' Choice


Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best Massive, Nearby Festival Venue
L.A. State Historic Park

We've got nothing against the far-flung Southern California locations where music festivals are being held with increasing regularity. Except for the fact that they're often deep in the desert and, when you take into account the traffic, often require a half day of traveling to and fro. Why bother going so far when we've got a huge, highly functional festival area right on the edge of Chinatown? It's 32 acres of prime dancing, drinking and cavorting real estate, and it's right off the Gold Line, so there's no need to drive home. From the HARD festivals, which cater to electronic music, to FYF, which is largely indie, to H2O, which focuses on Latin music and hip-hop, L.A. State Historic Park has just about everything, and you won't have to burn through half a tank of gas to get there. Just go soon — in 2014 it will close for a year for renovations. 1245 N. Spring St., Chinatown. (323) 441-8819, —Ben Westhoff

1245 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, 90012
Best Place to Go Brazilian
Brasil Brasil Cultural Center

Ask the average American to describe the culture of Brazil and he or she may cite the bikinis of Ipanema and Copacabana, the gang violence of the favelas, the popular beauty-salon waxing trend or the off-Strip Vegas casino called Rio. Brasil Brasil Cultural Center is here to spread the rich, authentic and energizing traditions of the proud, ethnically mixed South American nation. Launched by husband and wife Amen and Nayla Eva Santo almost 25 years ago, BBCS is a spacious cultural and community center, which spreads and shares Afro-Brazilian culture through classes in capoeira (a dance/martial arts hybrid), samba, belly dance, Zumba, kickboxing, multiple musical styles and fitness and language instruction. Pra caramba! 11928 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City. (310) 397-3667, —Adam Gropman

11928 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, 90230
Best Music Class for Toddlers
Scruffin Rock

Let's face it, baby music can be a nightmare. Less Wiggles, more rock, right, parents? If only kids could develop the same taste in classic jams that we have. Well, in fact, they can, especially if they're students in Julie Ingram's Scruffin Rock class. Classically trained, with a master's degree in music, Ingram has created a program akin to those Pixar movies that sneak innuendo into their dialogue: entertaining for your kiddo but with elements even adults can enjoy. Toddlers in Scruffin Rock sing, dance and learn rhythm and melody via music inspired by rockers such as Chuck Berry, The Go-Go's, Big Mama Thornton and Neil Young. It may look like they're just batting kiddie tambourines, but they're really learning the fundamentals of good music. With any luck, it will counteract the Bieber craze you know is coming. 3141 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village, —Ali Trachta

3141 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles, 90039
Best Do-It-Yourself Crafts
Duff's Cakemix
Photo: Diamond Bodine-Fischer

Need an activity that will entertain everyone from your mom to your 8-year-old cousin? Just love being crafty? If you answered yes, then Duff's Cakemix is your place. Located on Melrose Avenue at Sweetzer, it's not far from some of the most popular designer shops in Los Angeles. At Duff's Cakemix you're first given a "Kit Menu" from which you choose your cake size, flavor, filling and canvas (buttercream or fondant icing). Once you've decided on your foundation and gathered your decorating materials from the decorating bar, the team of trained pros at Cakemix helps you as much (or as little) as you please. With the assistance of Duff Goldman's Cakemix crew and its collection of decorating tools — which includes everything from cookie cutters to an airbrush station — even the uninitiated and untalented can create a cake that will impress. 8302 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd. (323) 650-5555, —Diamond Bodine-Fischer

8302 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 90069
Best Blacksmithing Class

Some hobbies are just more badass than others, and blacksmithing is about as badass as they come. Adam's Forge is a nonprofit group that encourages students from beginner to pro to express themselves through metal. Their weekly Discovery Days are $20 and feature projects simple enough for anyone. The volunteer staff is passionate about the craft and offers an inviting environment for first-timers. After attending a Discovery Day, if you're interested in going deeper, you can pursue your CBA (California Blacksmith Association) certifications at Adam's Forge. Their calendar is filled with always changing specialty classes like Mokume-gane and Viking Cutlery. If you reach the point where you're confident enough to work independently, they even offer "open forge" times to aspiring blacksmiths and passionate hobbyists alike. 2640 N. San Fernando Road, Glassell Park. (323) 257-5855, —Diamond Bodine-Fischer

Best Gay Men's Discussion Group

Need to talk about issues, such as dealing with a homophobic boss or navigating the dating scene, which only another gay man can understand? Want to connect with your gay brothers outside of the loud, sometimes intimidating bar scene? Feeling as if you're all alone in what you're going through as a gay man? Look no further: Go to Tribe, a fantastic gay men's discussion group that meets in the Community Conference Room of the West Hollywood Library. The setting is safe and friendly, with an emphasis on building the self-respect and personal power gay men already possess. Men from a broad age range — 20s to 50s — attend the meetings, held at 7:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. So you'll hear many different generational perspectives, which will be invaluable, and not always easily accessible outside of the group. 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., W. Hlywd. (323) 848-6460, —Patrick Range McDonald

625 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood, 90069

Best Massive, Nearby Festival Venue: L.A. State Historic Park


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