Barfly - First Fridays
Imagine you're at the museum right now. Not some crappy art museum, but a real museum filled with dinosaur bones and stuffed animals from all over the world, and gajillions-of-dollars-worth or rare and precious gemstones. You know this stuff is awesome, but the elevator music is putting you to sleep and for whatever reason people act like museums are like libraries and the only thing breaking the monotonous silence are hoards of schoolchildren being rushed through halls filled with priceless artifacts. Now imagine all these children disappeared. Imagine the whispering hush was replaced with hundreds of people chatting and laughing out loud. Imagine the elevator music was replaced with multiple live bands. Now imagine that around every corner, they were serving booze. For a combination that fulfills both your childhood and grown-up fantasies, get to the NatHiMuLA* for their intellectual and inebriating First Fridays . The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles opens its doors every first Friday of the month for those of us who have both taste and a propensity to seek out novelty. Let's face it: natural history museums are badass. So is drinking. Having one without the other for your entire life almost feels like a rip off. Like you've spent a lifetime having peanut butter sandwiches without jelly. But fear not, alcoholic anthropologists; you can now tell your friends you spend a night at the museum without recalling Ben Stiller at his absolute worst.
During First Fridays, all the museum's regular exhibits remain open, but instead of pushing toddlers out of the way to get a closer look at the giant whale skeleton, you'll be admiring natural history with a beer in your hand and the only people who you'll have to push your way through will be beautiful, of-age socialites. The crowd is decidedly under 30, but kids are still allowed and the aging hipster movement always makes an appearance. The booze aren't exactly cheap but the venue compensates for uppity price tags. Going above and beyond your usual "pay to play" snob joints (where you pay outrageous prices to party in outrageous places), the NatHiMuLA boasts actually good live music, usually featuring two "fresh and innovative" bands, and two DJs. The musical performances are delivered two at a time and on opposite ends of the museum, within the taxidermic halls of animals where crowds pack in between foreign and domestic animal dioramas to jam to their preferred performers. Visitors could also laze around the central lobby, watching the live music as it is projected on the walls around the skeletonized battle between a Tyrannosaurus and a Triceratops (or, for those whose entire paleontological vocabulary is based on animated films, a "Sharp-tooth" battling a "Three-horn").
The talent on display this week included DJs Anthony Valadez and Eric J. Lawrence, and the bands Crystal Stilts and Moving Units, with the Units drawing the biggest crowd by far – when the set ended empty beer bottles littered the hall between stuffed lions and polar bears.
There are only two down sides to this whole exhibit of awesomeness and they are thus: The first issue is mathematical and inevitable: You can only have twelve First Fridays per year. The second issue seems frustratingly rectifiable: First Fridays opens at eight and ends at ten. That only gives you two hours to imbibe as much overpriced Dos Equis as you can. I guess that seems appropriate for a museum show, but it makes for a pretty short experience as a bar-oriented event, so make sure you bring a designated driver. Despite these drawbacks, having the opportunity to mix and mingle amidst dinosaur fossils and ancient Native American pottery will certainly take your drinking expectations up a notch.
Get there early because the lines start forming around seven, and expect to pay $10 for parking and at least $15 for admission (or more, depending on what kind of ticket you get), but leave your pretense at home: this isn't your average museum experience and it certainly beats downing a fifth of Jack Daniels while watching the entire Land Before Time series (there are thirteen of them by the way).
*Yes, I totally made this acronym up. Pass it on.