Photo by Don Spiro


Another superb — superb! — season of downtown’s Grand Performances begins this Friday. Later in the summer, you can see free outdoor shows by Ozomatli, Terence Blanchard, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and I See Hawks in L.A. For the kick-off, grab a chair on the plaza and enjoy a salsa-merengue performance by young dancers from Albert Torres’ youth programs, followed by a screening of Mad Hot Ballroom, the documentary about New York City kids who discover ballroom dancing. 350 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn; Fri., June 24, 8 p.m.; free.

Allow me to introduce Moz master Siran Babayan as your guest blurbologist for the following: “Thanks, Libby, happy to be here. William Jones’ documentary Is It Really So Strange? is based on his own beautiful black-and-white photos that chronicle Moz Angelenos and their love for the one-named, mope-on-a-rope Morrissey. And we’re talking die-hard fanaticism here, from tattooed backs and wrists to ripped bits of the old man’s own shirts. Strange? Hardly. The filmmaker conducts a post-screening Q&A.” Part of COLA 2005 Exhibition. Barnsdall Gallery Theater, 4800 Hollywood Blvd.; Fri.-Sat., June 24-25, 8 p.m.; free. (323) 644-6272.


Every year we can’t sleep the night the before the Long Beach Bayou Festival. Why? Because we’re so excited? Partly. But also because we never know if it’s politically correct to eat alligator on a stick. Since we’ve never seen groups protesting the slightly tough fried ’gator nuggets on a skewer, we figure it’s no worse than sucking the head off a crayfish. This weekend, consider a room at the Queen Mary so you can stumble/crawl/roll home after a day of accordions, andouille sausages, dancing, parades and everything we love about New Orleans. This year’s lineup features the Magnolia Sisters, Dexter Ardoin & the Creole Ramblers, Brian Jack & the Zydeco Gamblers (Sat.) and Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie, and T-Broussard & the Zydeco Steppers (Sun.), plus a blues stage with Zac Harmon, South Side Slim, Lester Chambers, Deacon Jones Blues Band and many others. Party till you sweat Tabasco! Proceeds benefit Compre-hensive Child Development. Queen Mary Park, Long Beach; Fri., June 24, 6-10 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., June 25-26, noon-10 p.m.; $12 Fri., $20 Sat.-Sun.


Today is the opening of The History of San Pedro Punk. Count on memories of building the Channel Street Skate Park, the late D. Boon and the Minutemen, plus fIREHOSE, the Wigs, Dos and many more through posters, photos, video clips and memorabilia. Stay tuned for “The History of Granada Hills Punk.” Angels Gate Cultural Center, 3601 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro; June 26-July 31. Opening reception with performance by “polka-inspired trio of hyperactive, garbage-bag-wearing madmen” the Leeches, Sun., June 26, 2-4 p.m.; free. Regular hours: Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; $5 suggested donation. (310) 519-0936.

Did you know L.A. has a Swedish American Central Association of Southern California? It’s located in South El Monte. Today is the group’s big Midsummer Festival, with a Maypole, traditional ring dancing, Swedish folk songs, music by Västkustens Spelmanslag and, we imagine, meatballs. Vasa Park, 2854 Triunfo Canyon Road, Agoura Hills; Sun., June 26, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; $5. (626) 794-9729 or (562) 430-6536.


A rap Rocky? Probably not, but you can be among the first to see Craig Brewer’s new film Hustle & Flow at a GenArt-sponsored advance screening and party. ArcLight Theaters, 6360 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd.; Mon., June 27, 7 p.m., $20; after-party at Mood with DJ Spider, 6623 Hollywood Blvd.; 9:30-11:30 p.m. (310) 360-0141.


Former Shudder to Think guitarist and snobby New Yorker Nathan Larson plays his off-center rock for free at Amoeba Music. You’ve heard his music in such films as Palindromes, Dirty Pretty Things and The Woodsman. Best viewing spot: next to all my vinyl that the store now owns. 6400 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd.; Tues., June 28, 7 p.m.; free. (323) 245-6400.


Okay, okay, we give in. Burlesque dancing and Mexican masked wrestling is a fantastic combination after all. If you know your Super Porky from your Mil Mascaras, you’ll want to attend both nights of Lucha Va VOOM’s Greatest Hits! It’s a different show of wrestlers each night. Kitten DeVille, Erochica Bamboo, Ursulina, Ming Dynatease, Summer Peaches, Frida Kulo & Pogostick sensation Roky Roulette will be there both nights for your drooling pleasure. Very funnymen Blaine Capatch and Tom Kenny provide the comic commentary. The Mayan Theater, 1038 S. Hill St., dwntwn.; Wed.-Thurs., June 29-30, 8 p.m.; $40 ringside, $25 general admission ($45 both nights).


Layali Al Saif — it means “summer nights” in Arabic — is your chance to experience Middle Eastern dance, including Egyptian raqs sharqi, Persian banderi, Gypsy and the ever-popular “belly” by top-notch groups Flowers of the Desert and Devadasi. Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Thurs.-Sat., June 30-July 2, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., July 3, 3 & 7:30 p.m.; $20. (310) 315-1459.


BY THE WAY: I caught the Go-Go’s show last week and I have to share: Imagine the Go-Go’s as the Desperate Housewives: Belinda Carlisle — pure Bree, the cheekbones, the scraped-back red hair, the uptightness. Jane Wiedlin — Gabrielle, way too cute, obviously hiding an ugly secret. Charlotte Caffey — Lynette, the stressed-out–looking one. Kathy Valentine — Susan, maybe it’s the brown hair. Gina Schock — Edie, just because she seems like trouble.

LA Weekly