L.A. may be known for its luxe cultural events, but not everybody can afford to go to the Hollywood Bowl every week. Look around and you'll find dozens of places offering fun at a discount — or, better yet, free of charge. This week, offer to treat your friends to a movie, a festival, or even some fine art. You won't end up wasting a penny.
Here are five free events happening around the city:
5. See a Movie on Santa Monica Pier
Fear not, for although Jimmy Cliff has brought the Santa Monica Pier's Twilight Concert Series to an epic end, that rickety old wooden boardwalk is still the place to be for some of the best (free!) fun in the city. Fall is the season for bundling up and enjoying (free!) movies on California's front porch, starting tonight with the L.A. premiere of Los Wild Ones. The documentary by filmmaker Elise Salomon goes behind the scenes of the Los Angeles label Wild Records, a local outfit that specializes in Latino musicians who live for that crazy rockabilly beat. Featured band The Rhythm Shakers will jump and shake and rock the pier with a live performance to celebrate the screening. The Front Porch Cinema series has an impressive lineup of films set for Friday evenings through Oct. 18, a perfect way to start your weekend with the salty ocean breeze, some good company, delicious junk food and a cozy, block-party feel. Should you forget your recliners, old-timey lawn chairs are available to rent. Santa Monica Pier, 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica; Fri., Sept. 27, doors 6 p.m., movie 7:30 p.m.; free. (310) 458-8901, santamonicapier.org/frontporchcinema/. — Rena Kosnett
4. Take in Some Art at LAX
Navigating the new normal of our nation's airport scene can sometimes make you feel as if you're trapped in a performance-art fever dream, terminals and travelers blurring into a psychedelic symphony of color, movement and stasis. Time slows and speeds up at random, space bends in on itself, objects are miniaturized, and emotions run high. So, crazy as it seems, maybe the arrivals terminal is actually the perfect place for an art exhibition and a bit of avant-garde dance. Certainly Sarah Elgart is the perfect choreographer to turn to for the Los Angeles World Airports Art Program's first public performance event. Everywhere Nowhere, which features an original score by Yuval Ron, is “a site-specific, multisensory spectacle of movement, media, and color” — just like LAX itself. Making movement pieces in unconventional settings is sort of Elgart's thing, with previous works unfolding at municipal plaza fountains and bus stations, inside museum exhibitions and on overpasses. It was commissioned as part of Influx: Art at LAX, a unique public-art festival throughout the airport, featuring installations by some 45 local artists. Audiences for Elgart's Saturday performance are, ahem, encouraged to arrive two hours early — not for security lines but to take part in the 5 to 7 p.m. self-guided tour of nearby Influx installations, with maps available at the Terminal 1 art kiosk. You can keep your shoes on the whole time. LAX, outdoor courtyard outside arrivals between terminals 1 and 2; Sat.-Sun., Sept. 28-29, 7:30 p.m.; free. firstname.lastname@example.org, lawa.org. –Shana Nys Dambrot
3. Join the Crowd on Abbot Kinney
Managers of the Abbot Kinney Festival expect to pull 120,000 people to this Sunday event — roughly 3 percent of L.A.'s total population. Whoa, there! The largest free festival in the country, AKFest promises activities to please absolutely everyone: Adults can enjoy the flowing Stella Artois in one of three beer gardens, while the little ones design tutus and ride ponies in the Kidsquad. Music aficionados will split between two performance venues: dubFrequency is staging dance experimentalism on the Palms and stage, while Milkmade hosts a blend of soul and roots rock on the Brooks stage. Rounding out the show are 300 craft vendors, 20-plus food trucks, rock walls, spoken-word poetry and a Ferris wheel. As an added bonus, the festival's proceeds will be seeded back into Venice via a community grant program. Abbot Kinney Boulevard between Main Street and Venice Boulevard, Venice; Sun., Sept. 29, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; free. (310) 396-3772, abbotkinney.org. –Sarah Diamond
See also: 5 Artsy Things to Do in L.A. This Week
2. Embrace the Burlesque Life
Hollywood underworld empress Pleasant Gehman has always epitomized the celebratory rock & roll life, and her latest tome, the autobiographical Showgirl Confidential, promises to lay bare some exceptionally vibrant, er, content. The feline-eyed Gehman's extraordinary résumé includes stints as bartender (at the infamous, long-gone Sound Check on Sunset Boulevard), band booker (for revered rock clubs Cathay de Grande and Raji's), cowpunk trailblazer (fronting the wild Screamin' Sirens), belly dancer (she was performing in Cairo just as the Arab Spring first blossomed) and influential L.A. Weekly writer (her L.A. Dee Da column set the town's tone for years). She's done it all to the hilt, pulling off her adventures with a mix of charm, good humor, creative drive and lusty exuberance. This book reading will be far from bookish: With happy hour drink prices and burly-q and belly dance performances by Venus DeMille, Diamondback Annie & Ming Dynatease, Akasha Starr and Jewel of Denial, it's absolutely the only place to be this Sunday night. Skinny's Lounge, 4923 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Sun., Sept. 29, 6:30 p.m.; free, book is $20. (818) 763-6581, skinnyslounge.com. –Jonny Whiteside
See also: Our Latest Theater Reviews
1. Experience a Real-Life Video Game
An architect and a game designer walk into the Hayden Tract. … No, it's not the start of a highbrow joke, it's what's up with Interference, an extremely interactive, multiplayer, performance-art game presented by LACE at Track 16's fancy new digs in the architecturally enhanced Culver City neighborhood known as the Hayden Tract. Architect Nathalie Pozzi and game designer Eric Zimmerman won the Interaction Award at IndieCade 2012 with this work, and it's being shown in conjunction with the 2013 festival. (Yes, there's a thing called IndieCade; it's a festival hosted by Creative Media Collaborative, an alliance of producers and gaming leaders.) Instead of a game board, there's a vertical grid of thin steel walls throughout the gallery, on which a multitude of object-shapes is manipulated by teams of players. Rules for winning and losing are ambiguous, but the strategy is all about interference. Players are encouraged to steal game pieces from other ongoing matches, with games bumping into one another in a sea of motion. Watching the proceedings would be not unlike viewing the tides or the shifting sands, as the elements remain in constant, player-propelled motion — like Pollock playing Pac-Man with The Matrix on in the background. After opening night, the games continue across five subsequent public-play dates, no quarters required, so get in on the action. And make sure to stop by Thursday through Sunday for the rest of IndieCade, which will feature arcade games, virtual games, body-immersion games, board games, ancient-inspired games and futuristic games, too. More than 150 creations will be available for the industry to recognize and the public to enjoy. Interference is at Track 16 Gallery, 3571 Hayden Ave., Culver City; Wed., Oct. 2, 8:30-10:30 p.m. Exhibition continues through Oct. 26 but is open to the public only from noon to 6 p.m. on Oct. 5, 6, 12, 19 and 26; free. (323) 957-1777, welcometolace.org. IndieCade takes place in several venues; main hub is IndieCade Village, Downtown City Plaza, 9300 Culver Blvd., Culver City; Oct. 3-6, times vary. See schedule at indiecade.com for details; $20-$450. –S.N.D.
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