August is the sign that the sunny summer months are coming to an end — or it would be if this wasn't L.A., where the sun shines 300 days a year. Yet there's something special about being outdoors in the summer months that goes beyond good weather or the potential for a tan. When school is out and vacation hours are spent, being outside becomes a community activity in and of itself.
Luckily, L.A. summer isn't going out with a fizzle, but with a bang. Here are five things you can do this week — from an obstacle course to a play about a legendary wizard — that will keep you in the elements and out of your home.
5. Awesome, Water-Drenched Obstacle Course
Spitting directly in the two-faced Janus of climate change and a wretched summer, Drenched 5K Race gives you the chance to beat the heat harder than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest (Google it — it's happened). Inspired by the water wonderland of the legendary two-day celebrations of Thai New Year, Drenched 5K benefits Children's Hospital L.A. as it puts you through a gauntlet of slip-and-slides, sprinkler zones, oodles of foam and puddles of bubbles, misting tunnels, water-balloon fusillades and the peril of water snipers. You'll trade your hyperthermia for hypothermia as you enjoy a brisk run through the park bedecked with classic rock DJ'd by jocks from 100.3 The Sound, cold drinks and comestibles, and a completely refreshing absence of waterboarding. (Race bib and water-balloon filling party Fri., July 26, at Road Runner Sports, 12115 Ventura Blvd., Studio City.) Exposition Park, 700 Exposition Park Drive, South L.A.; Sat., July 27, 9 a.m. registration; 10:15 a.m. race and water fight; $30, $55, $65. (213) 744-7458, rundrenched.com. — David Cotner
4. Get Your Feet Wet
Among today's array of choices, the chance to beat the heat and dance in Grand Park fountain may prove the most popular. It's led by stars from television's So You Think You Can Dance as part of National Dance Day. Nigel Lythgoe, Adam Shankman and Napoleon and Tabitha D'umo are among the SYTYCD luminaries leading four hours of free performances and dance classes (including that fountain dance). Classes are geared to all levels, with YouTube videos already posted for one routine (sort of a line dance) and a hip-hop master class. Later in the evening, SYTYCD-related Dizzy Feet Foundation sponsors a gala performance with SYTYCD alums onstage and a post-performance supper for VIP ticket holders. Check links to the routines at dizzyfeetfoundation.org if you want to practice beforehand. Grand Park, dwntwn.; Sat., July 27, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; free. Dizzy Feet Gala at the Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Sat., July 27, 6:30 p.m.; $34-$105 (show only), $400 (show & supper). (213) 972-7211, musiccenter.org. — Ann Haskins
3. Things'll Be Great When You're Downtown
If your house ended up too-too Crate & Barrel and your own look is more J. Crew than you ever intended, here's a way to curtail buying of the mass-produced while at the same time putting down the masses (if that's your thing). Today marks the long-anticipated opening of Downtown Flea, from the people who brought us Truckit Fest: four parking lots heaped with unique goodies from about 250 local designers, crafters and vintage specialists peddling antiques, clothing, jewelry, furniture, accessories, needlecraft, housewares and ceramics. You can preview much of it at dtflea.com (in the “Fleabook” section). Food and drink artisans and popular food trucks such as Cousins Maine Lobster, the Melt and Urban Oven will be at the ready. A rock-climbing wall, photo booth, all-day music by DJ Kristi Lomax from 90.7 FM, and a scavenger hunt in which adults compete for flea-spending bucks complete the entertainment package. The clincher to this DTLA concept of flea-marketing is the “VIP ticket” (this is L.A., after all), which buys you access to executive restrooms and a tented area with lounge seating, fans and cool beverages. You fool, you thought valet parking at the Grove was the ultimate in luxury. Here, you can make your entrance by helicopter. Landing pad provided. Downtown Flea, 246 S. Spring St.; Sun., July 28, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; $5 general admission, $25 VIP. (323) 391-3378, dtflea.com. — Heidi Dvorak
2. The Wiz
Merlin, the magical figure perhaps best known for his role in Arthurian legend, has inspired countless modern warlocks and sorcerers, as well as the recent BBC series about Merlin as a young wizard, an international hit. But this summer, the woodsy, hugely popular warm-season amphitheater setting of Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum is telling what the theater company describes as his “untold story.” The legend has been adapted by playwright Ellen Geer and is told against an electronic score by Marshall McDaniel and Kellen McDaniel. Merlin is the fourth production this season for Theatricum Botanicum, a nonprofit theater whose often sold-out productions are set amidst riparian beauty and protected California Live Oaks not far from the village of Topanga. Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga; Sat., July 27, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 28, 7:30 p.m.; runs through Sept. 29; check website for schedule and prices. (310) 455-2322, theatricum.com. — Kevin O'Keeffe
1. Six-Man Spike
Get out your bro-tanks, volleyball fans, because the Charlie Saikley 6-Man Volleyball Tournament is on. Held as part of the 52nd International Surf Festival, the 6-Man has been a mainstay in Manhattan Beach for more than three decades, and often includes teams drinking and dressing up in ridiculous costumes. Though there may be costumes this year, there will not be any alcohol — as a preventative measure against underage drinking, the tournament banned alcoholic beverages and moved the event to the middle of the week instead of the weekend. Still, there will be toned and tan men and women playing volleyball in different divisions based on age, gender and proficiency level, and while sign-ups have long since passed, you can still show up and ogle the eye candy for free. Who wouldn't enjoy that kind of midweek entertainment? South side of Manhattan Beach Pier, Manhattan Beach; Wed., July 31-Thurs., Aug. 1, 9 a.m.; free for spectators. (310) 802-5000, themanhattanbeach6man.com. — Kevin O'Keeffe
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