From a flashback to ’80s nightlife to dineL.A. and the Women’s March L.A., here are the 12 best things to do in Los Angeles this week.
Back with a Bang!
Y2K may have brought tech-steria to pop culture but it also ushered in an exciting wave of indie rock sounds and stylish nightlife to go with it. Forecasting the era to come, revered club promoters Joseph Brooks, Shalyce Benfell, Jason Lavitt and Piper Ferguson kicked off the millennium with a bang… Club Bang! The Hollywood hotspot provided a haven for discerning hip kids who wanted to dance, with awesome aughts sounds (Britpop, American indie pop-rock, nu-rave, emo and electropop) on the turntables. This was the party that intro’d bands like The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party and The Killers to the dance floor and kick-started the rockstar guest DJ trend (members of the Smiths, Interpol, Joy Division, Ladytron and more all made appearances behind the decks). Bang! introduced countless music artists to legions of clubsters with cool haircuts for over a decade, closing in 2011 when its multiroomed venue, The Ruby Hollywood, shuttered in 2011. There’ve been one-offs here and there but the Bang! 20 Year Anniversary Bash is its first major and proper reunion. DJs for the evening include Brooks, Bipjeffington, Mantastique (Marc and Art) and Liz O. in the main room spinning indie, Britpop, English ’80s and electroclash; DJs Jason Lavitt and Clifton spin ’60s, funk and soul outside on the mod-themed patio. Expect groovy go-gos and visuals, a Bang! poster gallery, roaming photos and special guests all bangin’ night. Boardner’s by La Belle, 1652 N. Cherokee Ave., Hollywood; Fri., Jan. 17, 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m.; $15 (21+). eventbrite.com/e/club-bang-
Known for combining salsa, hip-hop and Afro-Cuban dance with urban and contemporary dance theater, Contra-Tiempo Urban Dance Theater gets a mainstage showcase as this venue’s dance season continues to feature L.A.-based dance companies. Founded in 2005 by artistic director Ana Maria Alvarez and resident composer César Alvarez, the diverse ensemble has built a strong following locally for energized works that also convey stories of the working classes. In 2014, the troupe went international, touring South America as dance ambassadors. Their concern for social justice amid exuberant dancing is captured in this event’s title joyUS justUS set to the music of Las Cafeteras and with collaborative choreography from Alvarez and company members. On Friday, stay for a post-performance artist talk-back. Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Bram Goldsmith Theater, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; Fri.-Sat., Jan. 17-18, 7:30 p.m., $29-$79. thewallis.org/CT. —Ann Haskins.
Fine Dining on a Budget
January marks the beginning of a new decade, and for those hungry to start the New Year on a delicious note, 2020 Winter dineL.A.Restaurant Week is the perfect time for budget-conscious indulging. The 15-day dining event will feature more than 400 restaurants across L.A. showcasing the city’s diverse and exciting culinary scene from January 17-31. The value-driven lunch menus range from $15, $20, $25, to $35, with dinner menus priced at $29, $39, $49, $59 and $99+. The list of restaurants include some of L.A.’s most coveted vegetarian and plant-based concepts featuring California seasonal produce, such as Double Zero and Hermosa’s new MOSA. Wine bar and cocktail destinations also make an appearance, with newcomers including Zinc Cafe & Market, downtown L.A. dive bar Hank’s, and a new Peruvian-Japanese cocktail bar, Yapa. There will be 20 first-time participants, including Marco Polo at the Silver Lake Pool & Inn, Plant Food + Wine, and Upstairs at Ace Hotel DTLA. Historic Tam O’Shanter will be offering a special dineL.A. menu for $49 all month. The four-course dinner includes their signature roast prime rib, slow braised lamb shank and C.C. Brown’s hot fudge sundaes. For more information about 2020 Winter dineL.A. Restaurant Week’s participating eateries and menus, visit dineLA.com. —Michele Stueven
You could almost think of what Hank Willis Thomas does as making visual and linguistic puns, except his wit goes much deeper than humor. Across some decades and a number of different but strategically related series, Thomas has undertaken to both deconstruct and illustrate with clarity the accepted, unconscious race and gender biases embedded in how we communicate. He has repurposed luxury and sports-brand advertisements as critiques on ownership and fetishization of black bodies, exposed more subtle but no less racists tropes encoded even in advertisements aimed at black consumers. He has toyed with the bigotry seething beneath allegedly innocuous words and his perspective on American popular culture is always tethered to its fraught and institutionally unjust history. In his newest body of work, An All Colored Cast, the artist turns his attention to the film industry, in photo-based works fusing aesthetic cues from mid-century abstract painting and appropriating actual iconography from studio cinema — all to highlight the deeper dimensions of terms like “color correction” and the power and portrayal of race in cinema. Kayne Griffin Corcoran, 1201 S. La Brea Ave., Mid-Wilshire; opening reception: Sat., Jan. 18, 6-8 p.m.; exhibition dates: January 18-March 7; free. kaynegriffincorcoran.com/
March for Equality
Throughout human history, the best way to get the attention of the authorities in charge has always been when people take their own power and get out in the streets. It is incredible that, in this modern democratic country, women still don’t have an amendment for equal rights, for instance, and the disparities in pay, benefits and opportunities for men and women is still shocking. Many voters of all genders stopped waiting for change and enacted it themselves in the 2018 midterm elections, when 103 women were elected to the congressional boys’ club. The Women’s March Foundation presents the fourth-annual Women’s March L.A. “to demand that the next president of the United States have a clear agenda to advance women’s rights.” Marchers gather at Pershing Square, 532 S. Olive St., before the march begins on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 10 a.m. The march moves to L.A. City Hall, 200 N. Spring St., downtown, for the rest of the program, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; facebook.com/events/
Birds, Bees, Neighborhoods and Memories
For Gabba Gallery’s first big night of 2020, Jason Ostro and Elena Jacobson curate four concurrent solo shows by Los Angeles painters Patrick Haemmerlein, Bobby Moore, Allison Bamcat and Isaac Pelayo. The four are diverse in styles — from Haemmerlein’s post-illustration, graphically expressive industrial idylls, to Allison Bamcat’s hyper-chromatic and stylized portraits and creatures, Bobby Moore’s kaleidoscopic composites of imagery and abstract gesture, and Isaac Pelayo’s cartoon- and Old Master-infused scenarios of the modern atelier. But they each share a willingness to push against conventional boundaries of color and line to create interpretive love letters to that eternal muse — Los Angeles. Gabba Gallery, 3126 Beverly Blvd., Westlake; opening reception: Sat., Jan. 18, 7-11 p.m.; exhibition dates: Wed.-Sat., noon-3 p.m., Jan. 18- Feb. 1; free. gabbagallery.com/. —Shana Nys Dambrot
Listen to the Flower People
“In the strange moment we are in now, ‘when all the world is a hopeless jumble,’ I think about that remarkable turning point in American history, and in American music — a time of new ideas, and hope,” Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Julia Wolfe says about her new work inspired by the 1960s. “Flower Power draws on my memory of that political and artistic time period, harnessing the energy and power of liberation and activism.” The piece will be augmented by psychedelic visuals and performed by L.A. Phil, conducted by John Adams, and Bang on a Can All-Stars, the ensemble derived from the NYC contemporary-music organization she co-founded with her husband, Michael Gordon, and David Lang. Adams also conducts his own steel guitar–laced symphony, Naïve and Sentimental Music (1999). Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Sat., Jan. 18, 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 29, 2 p.m.; $20-$185. (323) 850-2000, laphil.com. —Falling James
Imagination, ingenuity and an impassioned call to action animate beguiling mixed media sculptures and evocative drawings by Cynthia Minet. In Matter Studio Gallery’s ongoing thematic exhibition series, Minet’s solo exhibition Urgent Matter investigates the powerful conceptual foundation behind the confluence of materials and message in her work. Depicting animals from canine to feline, mammalian and aviary, using realistic anatomy but unconventional elements like recycled plastics, post-consumer packaging, motors and lights, Minet’s creatures show the eccentric scars of hand-made craftsmanship. Contemplating the ironic connection between the petrochemical toxicity that threatens the entire natural and zoological world and the charming, witty spirit of these animals creates a sweet discomfort that hopefully gives way to a sense of urgency. Matter Studio Gallery, 5080 W. Pico Blvd., Mid-City; opening reception: Sun., Jan. 19, 4-7 p.m.; exhibition dates: Fri., 2-6 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., noon-6 p.m., through Feb. 29; free. matterstudiogallery.com/
Voting Rights? Act!
It’s not only the current roster of powerful and beautiful exhibitions on view that makes CAAM the perfect place to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, taking deeper looks at everything from pioneering fashion house Cross Colours to cultural depictions of black women in cinema, the lively metalworking sculpture scene in L.A., and a broad example of the Southern vernacular drawn from their permanent collection. CAAM’s unparalleled commitment to the community also manifests in a full day of activities, performances, presentations, family time, food, music, political engagement, education on voting rights, and advocacy for peace. It’s all free, and all are welcome. California African American Museum, 600 State Park Drive, Exposition Park; Mon., Jan. 20, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; free. caamuseum.org/programs/
Go Back in Time
A seaside landmark popular with tourists and locals alike, the Santa Monica Pier is a lively family-friendly mecca offering games, rides and oceanic frolic. But even Angelenos who’ve noted its transformation over time might not know its full history. Santa Monica Pleasure Pier: A Look Back to 1917 from Today, an extensive exhibit at the Santa Monica History Museum, offers rare historical photographs and artifacts exploring the history of the locale, focusing on its “Pleasure Pier” era at the turn of the century and into the early 1930s, when businessman Charles Looff opened the entertainment and amusement hub. The museum has Charles I.D. Looff’s “Prospectus Book” (featuring photographs, drawings for proposed structures, and confidential financial information) on display, and the rare tome makes for a fascinating flashback to the early development of Los Angeles. The prospectus images, presented alongside contemporary photographs compiled by author Michael Murphy and photographer Jens Lucking, serve to illuminate the famed Southern California destination in a new way, contrasting past and present, and serving as an in-person companion to Murphy’s book of the same name released last October. Santa Monica History Museum, 1350 7th St., Santa Monica; Tue. & Thu., noon-8 p.m.; Wed., Fri. & Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; $10, $5 seniors & students, veterans, military & children 12 and under, free. facebook.com/events/
The Autograph Book of L.A. is one of our favorite publications of 2019, as its curated presentation of highlights from the Los Angeles Public Library’s massive collection of autographs, notes, and letters celebrate a century of luminaries and everyday folk. Its editor Josh Kun teases out several salient veins of inquiry in the process, but one of the richest has been the affinity to the project with the history of graffiti writing in L.A. as well, characterizing it as akin to signing the city as one might sign a guest book. In that spirit, Kun is joined in conversation tonight by Professor Susan A. Phillips, author of the new book The City Beneath, telling the history of a century of L.A. graffiti, and living legend of painting and writing, Chaz Bojorquez, whose work features prominently in both publications. Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, 1717 E. 7th St., downtown; Wed., Jan. 22, 7:30-9 p.m.; free. theicala.org/en/events/219-
Walk to Nowhere
Samuel Beckett’s Quad is a play, and yet it’s not a play. First performed in a 1981 German TV broadcast directed by the Irish playwright himself, the work has no dialogue. Instead, four actors march diagonally within a square. Each actor wears a different color and is presented by the sounds of a different percussion instrument. Quad I is the main piece, whereas Quad II is a slowed-down, black-and-white adaptation of the original work. Both sections are all about the actors’ strange, anti-clockwise movements until the stage is filled with all four hooded actors and an accompanying combination of instruments. The rarely performed work is directed by Michael Hackett as part of the ongoing Eurydice Found festival. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Thu., Jan. 23, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 25, 2 p.m. & 4 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu. —Falling James