At the risk of referencing LMFAO again, LA knows its party rockin' and we do it bigger and better than any other city in the world. New York may beat us at chic soirees, Miami might be sultrier and Vegas gaudier, but Los Angeles is where the magic happens. The culture, the diversity and yes, the entertainment industry make for an audacious alchemy that truly is unmatched.
Sure there's a lot glitzy superficiality too, but the stereotypes about L.A. nightlife are hardly the whole picture. For every botoxed big boob-bot bumpin' at the bash hoping to be discovered, there are artists and writers and music lovers and makers, not to mention normal, cool peeps who go out simply to have a good time. Despite an obvious decrease in imaginative gatherings and decadent sponsored spectacles due to the recession, there were still several opportunities to do just that.
Yes, some of the best events were exclusive, invite-only affairs, but just as many were open to the public… if you knew about them. Here, the top 10 best one-off parties and events that went off in Los Angeles this past year (Halloween and New Years Eve — last year and this weekend — not included).
10. What Cheer?
For Sunset Junctioners, 2012 was either a year of tragedy or triumph depending on what side you were on. Yes, this was the first year that the much-maligned street fair in Silver Lake did not happen. Questions and controversies about the funding fiasco behind it remain, but only time will tell what's going to happen next year. At least some raging parties took its place. The best? Anthony Giancola's weekend of What Cheer? “Conjuxion” bashes at the Holding Company space in Silver Lake-adjacent Westlake. Great local bands (many who were slated to play SJ), DJs and a hip crowd happy to show off the neo-hippie/hillbilly looks that had planned for the streets.
9. Best Coast Pre Carmadeggon Jam at The Getty
Hard to say which was the 2011 bigger hype bust: The Rapture or Carmageddon. We'll go with the latter, if only because it's the one more people we know actually feared. The weekend prior to the much-buzzed 405 freeway construction, indie darlings Best Coast played The Getty's “Off The 405” event, and not only was it one of their best sets, it saw some of the best weather and the best, chill crowds there ever. One of the best California Summertime gatherings, fer sure. Unless you got there late (it filled capacity and many didn't get in) it was as easy-breezy as Carmageddon itself ended up being the next weekend.
8. T-Mobile Sidekick Party with The Strokes
Let's get real here: the only people who hate on mega-bucks corporate-sponsored bashes are those who don't get invites. Free drink and food, swag bags and intimate performances by huge music acts make 'em extremely hot tickets. Cell phone companies seem to throw the best, but video games and a few mags do some doozies too, and often Bolthouse Productions is behind the ample amusements. We are lucky enough to get to go these gluttonous affairs — some memorable ones included Call of Duty's biggie with Kanye West and Google Music's grinder with Maroon 5 at Mr. Brainwash's gallery on La Brea. But we gotta give it to T-Mobile Sidekick's soiree with The Strokes, which turned the old Robinsons/May building in the 90210 into a cavernous party palace with a light-up dance floor and stuff to do everywhere you looked (lazer tag, karaoke booths, video games, etc.). The best part? Despite the bash being the week after Coachella (which they played), The Strokes didn't phone it in.
7. Egyptian Lover Party at Freak City
We didn't declare Freak City the best place to get your freak on in our Best Of L.A. issue for nothing. There were sooo many off the hook haps here in 2011. We didn't make all of them, but we did find ourselves hobbling in heels in the alley behind Antenna store on Hollywood Blvd. quite a bit. The most bumping in our book was when Egyptian Lover took the stage and pulled out his little friend: the 808 machine.
6. Kandyland at Playboy Mansion with Paul Oakenfold
Like Willy Wonka Gone Wild, this annual sweet- and beat-filled fete is pretty fantastical…and freaky. We've been to a couple of 'em, but the eye candy this year seemed less trashy and more crafty, with human cupcakes, treat-themed ta-ta looks and Katy Perry-ish party girls adding a poptastic flair to the usual bimbo bunches. Paul Oakenfold may or may not be a douchey DJ, but he did a great job getting gals to shake their cookies at this one, regardless.
5. Poptart Grand Opening
LA PoptArt has no association with frosted breakfast fave, but Phyliss Navidad's new gallery did bring plenty of fruity flavor to K Town. It debuted with “Your Face Here” the opening night show from photographer Austin Young, which featured bare walls and a photo booth setup in which patrons picked a spot on the wall, then got glammed up and shot. The closing party was also the big reveal. Curated by Lenora Claire and packed with the city's most flamboyant and foxy gay and straight crowds, the party popped in more ways than one.
4. Studio Servitu's Nick Kushner Blood Art Exhibit
Studio Servitu definitely left its mark on the party and art scene last year…and on a few fetishy femmes' behinds too, surely. We saw playful spanking going down at a few fetes here, as well as other dark and sexy prancing and posing, the latter at photo and modeling workshops and Dr. Sketchy Drawing Classes. But it's blood artist Nick Kushner's opening that makes the top parties of the year. Vampy looks, amazing art and Marilyn Manson spontaneously played his entire new record for the black-clad crowd… twice!
3. Lady Gaga Haus Party
The record release party for Born This Way, called Gaga's Fun Haus, was not only a celebration for the new music, it was like a fashion show featuring all of all of Lady G's various video looks. In addition, it served as a sort of re-launch/unveiling for the Belasco Theatre, which later hosted an even bigger event: the BAFTA spectacle hosted by the Prince William and his new wife Kate. But the royals had nuthin' on the Queen Monster's Ball, and though she didn't actually attend, her peeps were paws-up-on-the-floor enough for her.
2. Duran Duran “Unstaged” by David Lynch
The sensual new wave of Duran Duran met the surrealist eye of David Lynch at the Mayan back in March, and we've still seen nothing like the collab since. Part of the American Express “Unstaged” video project with Vevo and YouTube, it featured a full concert from the 80's icons and weird imagery/editing courtesy of the famed director. Fans watched the experiment from home but we were there, for the show and after-party. Our most Lynchian experience ever, natch.
1. Tim Burton Exhibit Launch Party at LACMA
Was any other exhibit in town more anticipated or talked about than Tim Burton's retrospective at LACMA? Goth gaggles and film nerds alike bought tickets months in advance, dressed in theme and of course attended every event in conjunction with the show. Most fans did not get to go to the biggest and best Burton bash, though, which makes our top spot for best event we attended this year. The party for Tim Burton himself at LACMA featured a more festive (and famous face-filled) walk through the exhibit, plus flowing cocktails and tasty bites (including cupcakes from one of those Food Channel shows). An intimate live performance by Jane's Addiction capped off the night, making a memorable evening even more so thanks to Perry Farrell, who was Beetlejuiced on wine during the set. Plus, what's cooler than partying in a dark and whimsical Wonderland with the demented mind who created it?