Having experienced Berkeley, Oakland, and even San Francisco for a year, my loyalty still lies with L.A.—it is more than just my home. I am not going to discredit how Berkeley has shaped my mentality, because it really has made me even more open-minded and driven than I already was. More importantly, Berkeley taught me to never take L.A. for granted.
I find it both really obnoxious and funny when I hear people who live in L.A. “talk shit” about it. I genuinely think people have no idea where to go for a good time. There is a reason why people move to “the city of flowers and sunshine.” Just one weekend in L.A. has the ability to make you fall in love all over again—like it happened to me.
So, it is a Friday night in L.A. and the streets of West Hollywood are packed because of the SCOTUS ruling for marriage equality (hell yeah!), but being the Berkeley student I am, I opted out and decided to stay home and review some LSAT practice tests. Berkeley cured me of FOMO (fear of missing out).
I would like to briefly add that I just got back from a girl’s trip to Miami last week and experienced the “partying until 5 A.M. and sleeping in until noon” lifestyle. Although I still think that it is dumb how last call at bars and clubs in L.A. is 2 AM, there are some things you just have to overlook when you realize just how good you really have it. We have amazing beaches, perfect weather all year round, fantastic restaurants, a fresh music and arts scene, and also, we are genuinely really friendly.
Before I start talking about what Angelenos did this weekend, one thing that all outsiders of L.A. have to get familiar with is KCRW–one of L.A.’s and Southern California’s gems. It is much more than a radio station. It is the voice of L.A.
During the summertime, they host a variety of events—mostly free (yes free!) concerts at Grand Park, UCLA’s Hammer Museum, the Santa Monica Pier, Chinatown Plaza, and the Annenberg Space for Photography. Just a few artists include, Real Estate, Sister Nancy, Ariel Pink, Jagwar Ma, and KCRW DJs Jason Bentley (who was also at Coachella), Anthony Valadez, Garth Trinidad, Mario Cotto, and Raul Campos. If you have some money saved up, KCRW hosts a concert series at the Hollywood Bowl, with artists like Basement Jaxx, Underworld, Grace Jones, Empire of the Sun, St. Lucia, and Future Islands.
So, finally, it is Saturday night and all of L.A. (and much of the U.S.) just wants to celebrate. This weekend was a special one. Marriage equality is now a guaranteed right to everyone, whether you are in California or in Alabama. This weekend was a celebration of progress, freedom, and history being made.
So, naturally, I grabbed two of my best friends and hit Chinatown for a night of celebrating, dancing, and food trucks. It was the first KCRW Chinatown Summer Nights event of the summer hosted by Raul Campos and Anthony Valedez. To make things even better, on the other side of the Chinatown Plaza, L.A. Weekly was also hosting an event with five indie bands.
It was a night that consisted of dancing outdoors (in perfect 78* weather, might I add rather than inside a stuffy, sweaty club) surrounded by neon lights, confetti, and colorful lanterns. Also, did I mention it was free? There was no pretentiousness at all, which I know is a quality that a lot of people give to Angelenos (and only sometimes rightfully so). It was raw and real. To my right, there was a group of pre-teens dancing and to my left there was a couple salsa dancing. Damn, it was refreshing.
We made our way to the dance floor just as Campos dropped Calvin Harris’s 2007 single “Colours.” Perhaps, it was a nod to marriage equality…or was it just a song representing L.A.’s diversity and culture? Or both.
After about an hour of dancing, we went to check out the food trucks. Everyone knows that L.A. loves trends and since food trucks are still trending, (thanks to trucks like Kogi and Lobsta), it only makes sense that L.A. loves food trucks. I went for The Lobos Truck, which offers “wachos.” Substitute tortilla chips in nachos for waffle fries and you have the glorious wacho.
The best part of these events, and L.A. in general are the crowds. Attendees ranged from toddlers to seniors. Even though most of us have been on summer break for about a month now, the moment Campos played the 1980 disco track “Mandolay” by La Flavour, I knew that it was definitely summer.
It was the perfect representation of what L.A. is. We do not all have tans and surf. Some of us are Chinese, Mexican-American, African-American, young, old, fat, skinny, gay, straight, or undocumented. Some people who live in L.A. are just here to see what the city has to offer. Basically, L.A. is the party that everyone is invited to.
Then we called an Uber, aka one of the best things that has happened to L.A. other than our sunshine.
Sunday night was just as good. My parents and I went to hear funk legend Bootsy Collins and Grammy-winning electronic dance duo Basement Jaxx.
Their album “Remedy” was released in 1999, when I was just five years old. But, I still remember when I heard “Bingo Bango” and “Rendez-Vu,” and how it shaped the music I listen to. Basement Jaxx’s sound is a combination of reggae, pop, house, ambient techno and funk.
If you have never been to the Hollywood Bowl, you should when you get a chance. Personally, it is my favorite venue in Los Angeles. The set up of the stage is extraordinary and the sound is like no other. Concert goers have the option of having a picnic before show starts with an amazing view of the city or eating and drinking during the show.
5 minutes into the performance, the stage lit up in rainbow colors–another way of showing the world that we are progressive and accepting. L.A. understands you. As Basement Jaxx chanted, “We are one.”
Thousands of people began to dance to the tropicalia house song “Mermaid of Salinas.” It is not only the anthem of Ibiza this summer, but an anthem for unity and togetherness. It goes like, “The world comes alive as I dive into your eyes. Just you and me.”
Having traveled to different cities in various countries, L.A. is still one of the most diverse and exciting places in the world where you feel at home no matter what color, gender, sexual orientation, or nationality you are.
And then we sat in traffic. I love you, Los Angeles, but I miss you too Berkeley. I can love NorCal and SoCal if I want.