As Facebook feeds fill with back-to-school pics, nostalgia for the rhythm of the school year kicks in. Brains that snoozed through the summer are ready for activity. It’s time to learn something new. But what?
In L.A., improv classes and yoga studios abound and most Angelenos have already joined and/or dropped out of both. Which is why it’s time to dig a little deeper into the extracurricular course catalog of the city. Here’s our curated list of some of the most interesting classes L.A. has to offer.
Make art that glows at the Museum of Neon Art.
The Museum of Neon Art’s new Glendale facility boasts a brightly lit, state-of-the-art classroom where students can learn the basics of neon making. Half chemistry lab, half art studio, this is the perfect place to experiment with noble gasses while making your brightest neon dreams come true. Beginning Sunday, Aug. 21, artist/sign-maker David Otis Johnson will lead an eight-week Intro to Neon I course. After two months of intensive weekly classes, you’ll come away with a unique new skill and your very own original piece of neon signage or art.
Museum of Neon Art, 216 Brand Blvd., Glendale. neonmona.org.
Drink your way through a lecture at Nerd Nite.
Proving once again that everything is better with beer, Nerd Nite brings professors out of the classroom and into a bar. Once a month, for just 10 bucks, you can snag a seat in one of the city’s most interesting lecture halls: a bar where professors give entertaining and informative presentations on a diverse range of topics. Dip into fascinating corners of research in the worlds of science, art, religion, philosophy and everything in between. If you were sober and the lighting was harsher, you’d feel like you were back in college.
Make a movie the old-school way at Echo Park Film Center.
Echo Park Film Center is an analog island in a digital world. Antique film equipment, vinyl records and stacks of film reels line the walls of this co-op/screening room/resource center/classroom. The cinephiles that run this spot are passionate about pre-digital moviemaking. While educating youth has always been at the heart of what they do, EPFC also serves adult learners with classes in everything from Super 8 and 16mm filmmaking to eco-friendly film processing using beer, wine, coffee and flowers instead of toxic chemicals.
Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N. Alvarado St., Echo Park. echoparkfilmcenter.org.
Sharpen your screenwriting skills at Writing Pad.
So, you have a brilliant idea for a new screenplay. Great! Before you find an outlet-adjacent table at your local coffee shop and open up Final Draft, sign up for a class at Writing Pad. Owned and operated by two writers with a passion for mentorship and education, Writing Pad connects small groups of students with experienced, accomplished industry professionals, all in a comfortable, homey environment. Whatever your literary ambitions, Writing Pad has a class designed to help you succeed. From novel writing to pilot pitching to radio storytelling, these classes are practical, informative and interactive. If you want to get personalized feedback on your next TV pilot from a writer-producer who has worked on both Mad Men and Mr. Robot, and you want to do so while lounging barefoot on a midcentury modern couch sipping tea in an airy downtown loft, this is the place for you.
Skip the recipes at Hipcooks.
At Hipcooks, fussy recipes and precise measurements are ignored, taste-testing is required and every class ends in a really fun dinner party. Designed to inspire cooks of all skill levels to make more food in their own kitchens, Hipcooks’ classes cover everything from basic knife skills to how to throw your own dim sum party. Class offerings are extensive and global, covering Cajun, Italian, French, Vietnamese, Thai, Greek food and more. And they offer classes on the Westside as well as the Eastside.
Get crafty at Makers Mess.
The creative team at Makers Mess in Silver Lake offers ambitious crafters options that go beyond your everyday pottery glazing or paint-and-wine classes. Here your choices range from calligraphy and watercolor to bronze jewelry casting, macrame weaving and hair styling and braiding. And, if your digital flirtation game needs an overhaul, there’s even a class on “Banter Basics” designed to help you hone your online dating, chatting and texting skills.
Makers Mess, 602 N. Hoover St., Silver Lake. makersmess.com.
Stretch yourself at Cirque School.
Living and working in L.A. can be tough. Remember that if things ever get really bad, you can always run away and join the circus. Of course, that B-plan will be easier to pull off if you’ve been training at Cirque School L.A., a mecca of contortion and core strength founded by former Cirque du Soleil aerial hoops specialist Aloysia Gavre. While plenty of legit circus hopefuls and hyper-fit celebrities train at Cirque School L.A., the majority of the school’s students are average Joes and Janes seeking to up their fitness game while also having a little Cirque-inspired fun. The school’s motto — “For Anybody With Any Body” — reinforces its welcoming atmosphere. Look for the 101 level classes (available in Aerial, Acro and Flexibility & Strength) to get started.
Cirque School L.A., 5640 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. cirqueschoolla.com.
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Get the party started at DJ Scratch Academy.
Co-developed by Jam Master Jay, the Los Angeles location of DJ Scratch Academy isn’t just for kids. Because it’s never too late to learn how to lay down beats, this school offers a variety of classes for the aspiring DJ. Get started with the introductory DJ 101 course or take things more seriously and sign up for private lessons. If you really get hooked, the extensive Professional Track course promises to take you from novice to pro in 25 short weeks.
2324 Cotner Ave., Sawtelle. scratch.com.
Brew your Own adventure at Home Brewing Supply.
Purchasing home brewing equipment can be expensive and intimidating. The folks at Home Brewing Supply offer monthly beginner’s home-brewing classes at both their Culver City and Eagle Rock locations so that you can try before you buy. For $20, they’ll teach the basics (and give you a free pint glass). The website also has information for advanced brewers who want to explore partial mash brewing, all-grain brewing and something called decoction mashing, which surely tastes better than it sounds.
Home Brewing Supply, 4234 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City; 4981 Eagle Rock Blvd., Eagle Rock. brewsupply.com.