Sunday, February 8, 2015

Date night

Married life, parenthood, and finally our move to the South Bay have brought a certain predictability to our dating life. These days we're all about a place that'll serve a good steak, an interesting salad, and a decent cocktail. Preferably within a 10 minute drive. And I love it. I love our cosy, domesticated, bubble-of-bliss, life.

Once in a blue moon, though, I think wistfully of our courting days in London and Beverly Hills, and our time in NYC. In those days we went on the kind of quirky, higher investment dates that characterize an early relationship. Fortunately nothing as self-consciously eccentric as the gamelan concert a difficult ex 'treated' me to years ago. Still, there was a champagne tasting in Beverly Hills, that quest for Harlem jazz, and a burlesque cabaret night in London.

So when I read about an old town music hall which screens classic films in nearby El Segundo, I decided to shake things up a bit and plan a date night there. To butter TLOML up, in case the old movie didn't work out, we started our evening at Britt's BBQ. You know you're set up for a good night when you kick off at a place with kitchen roll on the table.
Then, after a swift drink in a nice dive bar, on to the Music Hall. Ticket sales are on the door only, 30 minutes before the show starts. My anxiety about facing a long line and/ or a sold out show were unfounded. A handful of, ahem, vintage people shuffled in ahead of us but there were plenty of seats to choose from.

The good people of the El Segundo Old Town Music Hall open every film screening with a Wurlitzer performance, a silent movie, and a singalong. Like the fanatics they clearly are, they've rigged up all 2500 parts of the Wurlitzer with lights so you can see it moving as it works.

It was quite the spectacle, though I could have lived with a slightly shorter performance. The plot of the silent movie lost me, but it was accompanied with great panache by the Wurlitzer. The songs for the singalong were a bit obscure (hits from the 1910s, apparently) so no-one really belted them out; still, when do you ever sing songs with a bunch of strangers? Charmingly old fashioned.

And finally, the movie began: 42nd Street, is apparently a classic from the golden age of cinema. At this point the night went a bit down hill. If poor acting, preposterous plotting and ludicrous dialogue make a great film, then I'll pass thanks. I mean, did anyone ever really say 'aw shucks'? TLOML's exact words were 'worst movie I've ever seen'. Far more entertaining than the film was the loud, rhythmic snoring - timed to perfection to blast out at pauses in the dialogue - from an old lady a couple of rows behind us.

Despite the film being a bomb it was a fun night out. A change of scene. And an evening which will I'm sure give us something to talk about the next time we go out for a good steak and an interesting salad.

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